Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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7/28/2014
08:06 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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How To Be An Office Hero: 3 Myths, Busted

You rely on a set of social assumptions to get ahead at work, but some of those assumptions don't match with science.

because they're worried about crossing a social line. So it creates the sense that we should all be more assertive, except the problem is that people who are over-assertive don't know when they are, so the advice could be disastrous for those who are already too aggressive.

To respond to this finding you need trusted mentors and colleagues who can tell you when you've gone over the line. Be too aggressive too often and you run the risk of people not liking you. Worse yet, you won't even know it.

Myth No. 3: I don't have to be liked as long as I'm respected
This is true -- if you have no intention of ever having a job or convincing people of anything ever, especially over videoconferencing or social media. Otherwise, you're going to need to be likeable. A 2010 study showed that the early stages of an interview where likability is measured influences the perceptions of being qualified and the likelihood of getting a job.

And this Wall Street Journal article cites several studies that show it is extremely difficult to persuade people in an argument if the persuader isn't liked. This is especially true if the conversation is held over video conference or social media. Given how much of business is conducted over one or the other, you better start getting ready to shake some hands and kiss some babies.

When you can, have important meetings in person. Likability is less important than the argument in person (probably because most people are more likable by default in person). When you can't, the best way to be liked is to come across as genuine and trustworthy. Authentic stories are especially powerful in remote settings. And remember the lesson from myth two -- find some people you trust to help take a temperature reading of how people actually feel about you.

As you can probably tell, these three phenomena are tightly linked. People like people who keep their promises and know where the lines are socially. Managers often have to do things people don't like, such as making them stay late or giving them a tight deadline. As the second myth showed, no one likes a softy, either. It isn't hard to be an office hero if you spend just a little more time learning about human nature.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 7:15:40 PM
Re: Inexpensive perk
@Bhori: Monthly reviews or some kind of ongoing feedback process would be incredibly helpful. Most annual review processes are time consuming and onerous for all involved and, except in cases of truly egregrious performance, rarely do they have any noticeable affect. Even without a formal process, it's smart for managers to make it a practice to give their team members continual feedback -- it's far more constructive to hear something in the moment than six or 12 months after it happened.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 1:49:05 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@SaneIT- True, if you are WAAAAY over or under a promise, you lose credibility. But i suspect if you say 6 months and constantly due it in 5 months and 3 weeks, you'll be appreciated. To me, that's basicaly in the realm of keeping the promise. You were on time. If you make it in 2 months they'll be like, "so what was the extra time for? What di they skip?"
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 1:46:44 PM
Re: Better
@tzubair- The studies are showing you are better off promising more then and delivering what you promise. The excess of what you promised is seldom noticed or appreciated.
D.M. Romano
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D.M. Romano,
User Rank: Moderator
7/30/2014 | 1:44:30 PM
What people think of you...
I can honestly say that I don't think anyone can truly assess what others really think of them in any real situation. In the office, I've found a mix of integrity and compatibility coupled with reliability have been the best personality traits that offer others enough respect for you. But in the end, do we really know what other's think of us? I think not. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/30/2014 | 1:39:31 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@pcharles09- I suspect all the over delivering gets noticed by the right manager. But i don't think it is in the way we think. I don't think it has to do with doing a better job. I think at has to do with the manager thinking, "I need this done. Who can i ask?" If you are constantly the one the manager knows they can ask, you're doing great. That can be done simply by meeting promises as well.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 7:36:25 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
My opinion on estimating project time is that if you're close then most people won't care if you go over a bit as long as you can identify why you went over.  If you say "we can get this done today" but something comes up and it is pushed off until the next day people understand and appreciate that you are busy.  If you say "we can do this in 6 months" and it takes an extra week people will understand.  If you say "this will take 6 months" and you get it done in 2 people stop listening to your estimates.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 6:20:12 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@Lorna: I think this psychological factor often works. Rather than setting your own internal deadline to be ahead of the actual deadline, most people are more comfortable with an external pressure that can make them be more discipilined. I think I myself would also fall in that category.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 6:08:42 AM
Re: Better
"Rather than under-promising and over-delivering, probably better to under-promise, keep the promise, and then make new, better promises for the easy excess."

@Joe: When you're in a situation where you're competing with a lot of others who're as qualified and skillfull as you are, you're often forced to deliver more than what you promise. If you simply keep up with what you promised, you're at par with others. But if you really want to stand out and exceed others, you have to do more. At least I was often faced with this situation during my career a lot of times.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 11:16:12 PM
Better
It's also worth pointing out that "better" is a relative concept.  Row 10, for instance, may be my ideal -- close enough to see well but not so close that it's too loud for me or I have to strain my neck to look up at the stage.

Rather than under-promising and over-delivering, probably better to under-promise, keep the promise, and then make new, better promises for the easy excess.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2014 | 10:45:54 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@David,

The real question is, with all those years of over delivering, do you feel like its been noticed?
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