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.

No matter where you are on the org chart, you've always got someone to impress. The new help desk hire has to impress everyone. The CIO has to impress the CEO. Even the CEO has to impress the board and the shareholders. To do that, we all employ a series of social strategies that we hope will help us go up the corporate ladder. With each promotion we assume that we're doing the right thing, but once in a while science throws us a curve ball and teaches us what we've been doing all along might not be the best strategy. Here are three recent findings that have shown you might not being doing everything necessary to be an office hero.

Myth No. 1: Under-promising and over-delivering is the best way to impress
It turns out this might be wrong, and it might be costing you valuable time and effort that you could be using on other tasks. New research (subscription required) from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business shows that people are very grateful when you keep a promise, but there are few additional returns on exceeding that promise.

In fact, on occasion, exceeding the promise is looked on in a negative light. This is not only true for people but for businesses dealing with customers. For instance, the team asked undergrads to purchase concert tickets from a mock website. The purchased tickets were for row 10. But people in the study were sent tickets that were better, worse, or exactly what was ordered. Not surprisingly, those receiving tickets worse than row 10 were annoyed. But more surprisingly, those who received better tickets reported that they were less happy than those who get the tickets they bought.

[Experienced? Be proud. Read IT Leaders, You're The Cavemen Who Survived.]

So the next time your boss asks for something on Friday and you burn the midnight oil to get it to him on Wednesday, reconsider what you are doing. She's going to be exactly as grateful as if she got it on Friday. Meanwhile, your ability to make and keep other promises is negatively affected. Better to make and keep a whole bunch of promises than to exceed just one.

Myth No. 2: I know exactly what people think of me
Chances are really good you don't. A shockingly large number of people have no idea when they have "crossed a line" socially or in business settings. Columbia Business School doctoral candidate Abbie Wazlawek studied MBA students in mock negotiations. Wazlawek asked the participants to rate their partner as either too assertive, not assertive enough, or just right.

She found that 57% of people who were found to be under-assertive by their partner thought they were just right or over-assertive. She also found 56% of people who were found to be over-assertive thought they were just right or under-assertive. In other words, in a tense business situation you have the same chances of knowing if you were inside social norms as you do of guessing a coin flip.

Another finding in the study was that many people who were actually "just right" with their assertiveness felt that they had "crossed a line" and felt too assertive.

This makes for a fun paradox. The findings show that people who are "just right" or under-assertive are leaving "money on the table" in negotiations

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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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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 9:41:34 AM
No more Mr. Scott
Myth No. 1: Under-promising and over-delivering is the best way to impress

 


I see this so much in the IT field that it makes me wonder where it all started and how we can end it.  I think of Scotty fixing a warp core breach in record time every other week.  Eventually that over delivering becomes your standard delivery and you get backed into a corner of everything requiring the push that special projects used to get.  It burns people out and it makes you look bad when you give accurate estimates of time and expense of a project because it is suspected that you're padding your numbers.
MultiHats
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MultiHats,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 11:33:57 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
Scotty also once told Jordi LaForge "never tell 'em how long it really takes. Ya got to add a little padding."
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 1:40:34 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@multihats- I love that line. I think the next lines is "how do you expect anyone to think you are a miracle worker?"

It is funny how we are trapped in this idea that to get ahead we have to work miracles. Shouldn't constant good work be enough?
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 7:07:08 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@MultiHats, that was part of my point. People are getting used to this method of under promising and they assume that any time estimate given is just some arbitrary number.  I have people ask me all the time if I really think that consulting hours are going to be close to what is being presented because they are convinced that the complexity of the issue is being exaggerated.
MultiHats
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MultiHats,
User Rank: Strategist
7/29/2014 | 1:29:17 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
Actually, I agree that estimates should be as accurate as possible. However, I also believe adding a little padding to compensate for the unexpected complication or interruption is reasonable. The ability to accurately estimate time/effort required and culture also play a role. Some do a better job at estimating time/effort required than others. If one tends to underestimate, adding a little padding just evens things out. If one tends to overestimate, then adding padding is a no-no. In some work cultures, it is better to add a week to the estimate that to take a day longer than the original estimate.
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.
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?"
Joe Stanganelli
IW Pick
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 11:21:15 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
The other strategy, which I've used often to success -- overpromise, but then deliver fully on that overpromise.

Coming from a working-class Italian background, the work ethic I grew up with was always: "Yes, I can do that."  And then busting your butt to figure out how to do it, and doing it -- even if you have no idea what you're doing it at first.

Granted, this isn't ALWAYS the best strategy (it all comes down to ROI, after all -- no use in going above and beyond for something that's not going to be worth it), but if you really push yourself, you can do amazing things -- and impress others and yourself at the same time.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 12:13:59 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@Joe- I think that's an interesting point about overpromising. I think stretching yourself is a good thing. But serious questions:

1) Is it still overpromising if you deliver? 

2) It might be overpromising to you because it is a stretch, but will anyone else see that?

Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 7:25:26 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@Dave: Good questions.  Here are my thoughts...

1) Not to the client... I'm using the word "overpromise" in a different sense, obviously.

2) If you're really delivering top-notch service/widgets/whatever, not only will your clients see and appreciate that, but it will make you a better competitor overall in terms of your capacity/infrastructure/what-have-you for attracting and retaining new clients in the future.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 8:14:50 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@David, It sounds like we are on the same page, I just see many who are not.  Maybe not on this thread but in real life I see a lot of IT pros who seem to just throw numbers out to see what sticks.  I try to deliver quickly based on what my department can handle but not so quickly that we're going to have to cut corners.   That's a balancing act that the industry as a whole needs to spend some time addressing.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/29/2014 | 4:03:53 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
I have a writer (who shall remain nameless) who asks me to set a copy deadline two weeks before I actually need it. Now, to me, that's like setting your bedside clock ahead 20 minutes to trick yourself into getting up on time. You know you're lying to yourself. And yet, for some people, it works.
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2014 | 5:44:53 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
Sometimes burning the midnight oil to get something done early may give your boss the illusion that certain tasks actually take a lot less time than they originally thought. Then they may set deadlines for future assignments a lot earlier than they normally would have or may give you more projects to do, since they think that you have more time than you really do have.
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.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 1:35:25 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@SaneIT- You're right. It is destructive. And I don't know exactly how it started either. I'm guessing it started with a good intention of rewarding hard work. In hourly jobs you get paid overtime. In salaried jobs like IT, there's the bonus. I'm guessing that overdelivering around bonus time was once a decent strategy. And that led to the wisdom of doing it. But unless you VASTLY under promise you get into the same death spiral you described.
Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
7/28/2014 | 2:04:43 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
Bonuses? You get bonuses? We simply don't have them.

The recency and halo effects are always problems in any evaluation system. Tough to come up with a solution other than spreading out the increases evenly. Does that remove the incentive? Not sure. Tons of studies claim that STEM people aren't motivated by money. Of course try reducing salaries and watch what happens. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 3:21:03 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@Number6- I always assume salaries for STEM were like salaries for athletes. It isn't that they need or want the money so much as it is a way of keeping score and measuring the respect you receive. And specifically for engineers, I think it is money to buy cool new toys to experiment with. 
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:47:21 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@ Number 6: Yes, we have bonuses which were supposed to be performance related. But unfortunately, at most places merit of the review becomes closeness and personal liking of the reviewer rather than the actual performance. And, the sad part is that when measures are qualitative rather than quantitative you it is very difficult to win an argument.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 7:14:36 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@David, I would also throw in there that if you're constantly under promising you may find yourself looking for a job.  People get tired of hearing that their IT team can't pull off the amazing things that they see everyone else doing. Most of my project talks start with a question like "is it possible" or "can we" and I let them know that with enough time and money anything is possible.  They just have to decide what it is worth for them to have what they are dreaming about and I'll make it happen.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/29/2014 | 11:55:26 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
@SaneIT- Agreed. What happened to just making promises and delivering what you promise? That seems good enough for 90% of the things in this world.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 10:50:33 PM
Re: No more Mr. Scott

Some really good thoughts on over promising along this tread.   I agree it will set an artificial bar which over time will lead to burn out.   And let's face it - bosses don't really care if it is done earlier than planned, just as long as it get done by the deadline.

SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 7:32:16 AM
Re: No more Mr. Scott
That's a great point, in most cases finishing a project earlier than promised doesn't earn you extra points.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Moderator
7/28/2014 | 9:43:45 AM
Some goals are tricky
The exceeding expectations one is good. More often than not, you'll spend time later explaining that you always beat deadlines. In those cases, your boss might even ask you what you're doing with the extra time...
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 1:37:39 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@pcharles09- Hopefully most of us have bosses who don't track how long things take every time, but you're right, once you start delivering things super fast, the next time the expectation is that it always takes that long. I think I'm going to start taking twice as long to do things for a while just to reset expectations after all the years i've spent overdelivering. :)
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?
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.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Moderator
7/31/2014 | 9:26:56 AM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@David,

Great point. I was just hoping that it gets noticed. In some organizations with too high of a hierarchy, even those simple acknowledgements can go unknown.
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 7:05:57 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky

In some organizations with too high of a hierarchy, even those simple acknowledgements can go unknown.

@ pcharles: I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately this is the case in many organizations where HR system is either ineffective or purposefully flawed. Line or department head sitting over you, doesn't let your accomplishments or performance recognized, just to keep his position secure. In those environment it isn't wise to spend your time and efforts in over performing but rather finding a better alternative for yourself.

pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Moderator
7/31/2014 | 7:29:50 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@Bhori,

Very true. It's like the Army: you don't want to be the head of the troops or the least. Just stay right in the middle of the pack & try NOT to get noticed. I don't think that's a good way to operate but if one doesn't have complaints, then do that well.
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 8:39:37 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky

Just stay right in the middle of the pack & try NOT to get noticed.

@ pcharles: Very well said. I believe this is the right way to stay for the time being at a place where performance doesn't matters a lot and promotions aren't expected or encouraged.

 

pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Moderator
7/31/2014 | 11:39:30 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@Bhori,

That's not necessarily the case. You can still get the job done without making yourself a superstar. As long as you don't under-perform, you can still get promoted. It's a method to stay out of trouble, not necessarily shooting yourself in the foot.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 7:27:24 AM
Re: Some goals are tricky
re: middle of the pack

That's certainly one prevailing philosophy -- not just where office politics and CRM is concerned, but also with life in general.  The A students are stressed out, built up for failure, and disappointed/embittered.  The F students are obvious failures.  It's the B and C students who excel in the long run.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 6:15:34 PM
Re: Some goals are tricky
@Joe - I capisce.  I grew up the same way.  I also had an IT boss which apparently did as well.  He would promise the moon and stars to our users and dump it on us to figure it out.

Sometimes, I surprised myself how much I could really do when I had no other choice.

Sometimes though, it put us in the awkward position of having to explain to the user that we really couldn't do what we were asked, either because of limited knowledge, resources (human or capital) or time.  Many times the answer came down to this: we can't do what you want unless you are willing to spend X amount more money.

Budget constraints proved to be our savior on multiple occasions.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 11:17:31 AM
So what's the best path?
@dave -- all right on the money. accurate and telling.

Leads me to think "just keep your head down and do your work as well as you can" -- but that's corny and doesn't always let you excel

I fall back on loyalty -- hard to come by and important - loyalty to the boss, and the team

 

What do you recommend, @dave? Never be an office hero? Just a worker bee?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 1:39:08 PM
Re: So what's the best path?
Well, I think you can still be the office hero by side-stepping these traps everyone else is falling into. While they're busy overdelivering on a project, you go and do ten on time. Be a nice person who gets the social norms and I bet in the end you get ahead.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/28/2014 | 11:52:58 AM
Inexpensive perk
Seems like companies could help their employees by running standard 360 evaluations and giving employees access to the results (anonymized, of course). It might be painful at first, but knowing what people really thnk is so important.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 1:44:59 PM
Re: Inexpensive perk
@Lorna- I've never been a fan of the 360 review because I think it captures snap shots of what happened in the last day or two befor eyou fill out the review. Most people, I think, forget the success or failure of 3 months before the review was filled out and just go by their present mood.

At the same time, you are right that people need anonymous feedback at times. I wonder if a real strong organizaiton could handle some sort of internal wiki where people post anonymous criticisms of workers and the criticisms go through anonymous email to people.

I think there used to be things in high school called "slam books" where people used to write horrible things about their friends that they didn't like. I wonder if a virtual slam book could help everyone get along better or whether it would just create a horrible atmosphere of derision and bullying.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/28/2014 | 1:58:30 PM
Re: Inexpensive perk
Hmm, a corporate version of a slam book! That's a very intriguing concept that would, I suspect, be shot down in flames by 99% of HR departments in fear of lawsuits. These seem even more likely to be reactive - say I have a spat with a coworker, I can go slam her anonymously in the wiki. At least a 360 review, in contrast, would have my name attached for HR's purposes. We have seen the type of trollishness that happens when people can be anonymous. You need a combination of candid, thoughtful, and transparent that's very tough to get.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 2:01:41 PM
Re: Inexpensive perk
@Lorna- I definitely assumed that the paper trail would go back to HR, or at the very least people would assume that. But you are right, it is liable to be TOO reactive where 360 reviews aren't active enough. The middle ground is tough because you don't want to spend your whole year doing evaluations of each other.
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:46:43 AM
Re: Inexpensive perk
@ Lorna & Dave: I am in favor of 360° monthly performance review which sums up to annual appraisal. This way, time and latest performance biases can be avoided. Surely, it would be time consuming but it only once need to be adapted in corporate culture. Slam books and corporate wikis are very risky unless you have highly civilized and sensible reviewers other it would just lead to bullying and defamation.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/29/2014 | 11:58:01 AM
Re: Inexpensive perk
@Bhori- As much as I get the concept, I find one annual review for just myself annoying. If I had to do a 360 review for my entire team every month, I think I'd fail to get a lot of stuff done. Is there a way to shorten that process? And what do we gain out of that much reviewing?
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 2:45:51 PM
Re: Inexpensive perk
@ David: I agree that annual reviews are annoying. That is why they should break up into monthly reviews which would be simple, not as thorough as annual review. This way performance of the whole year can be reviewed rather than only recent events in case of annual review.  Since, the organization is already reviewing the financial performance on monthly basis; there is a sense to review the performance of those contributing to financial results often.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/29/2014 | 4:06:05 PM
Re: Inexpensive perk
Frequent short reviews also lessen the possibility that an annual review will be skewed by whether someone was a hero (or dropped the ball) just prior to the review. 
freespiritny25
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freespiritny25,
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2014 | 5:47:36 PM
Re: Inexpensive perk
@ Lorna, I totally agree with you about how annual reviews can be skewed by the hero. I used to get frustrated by a boss that wanted all annual reviews done three months before the due date. It was senseless to me.
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.
Bhori
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Bhori,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 6:54:01 PM
Re: Inexpensive perk

it's far more constructive to hear something in the moment than six or 12 months after it happened.


@ Susan: Completely agree. I think Intra company social network can do this job well, but it will only fulfil the purpose if it builds up into annual performance score and used as replacement of annual appraisal.

Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 12:53:41 PM
People are tricky, bring on the robot bosses!
@Dave thanks for dispelling these three office hero myths. People are tricky. Do you think we humans might do better with robot overlords? They'll be less flexible but won't come with the human social norm requirements...

 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 1:46:13 PM
Re: People are tricky, bring on the robot bosses!
@Michelle- Ha! I think robots would hate us because out behavior wouldn't compute. I think they'd assume we were malfunctioning. :)
Michelle
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Michelle,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 10:58:58 PM
Re: People are tricky, bring on the robot bosses!
@Dave can you imagine all the negative performance reports they'd create for the human workforce?
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 1:38:43 PM
Likeability factor
Dave I agree likeability cannot be undervalued. If your team doesn't want t you to be successful you won't be successful. So many managers still think that micromanagement and punishment will get their teams to be higher performers while it creates the opposite effect. People work harder for those they like and consequently well like managers are more successful. While you may not be loved by everyone in your organization it's important to have rapport with certain people and certain groups, your team being one of them.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 1:48:52 PM
Re: Likeability factor
@impactnow- I agree. But it is tough. You also need to not be so wishy washy they don't repect you. Nobody likes a suck up either. It is hard to walk that line. I guess that's why they get the big bucks. :)

Seriously though, I think that my advice to get a few trusted colleagues and mentors is so important. Someone recently on an Iweek radio show (I'm sorry, i forget which one) was talking about the importance of having a possee. You've got to have the people you can call to rally around to ask questions and get honest answers and to back you up when you need help. I think that's something everyone should try to get.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 2:09:20 PM
Re: Likeability factor
@David - Oh yes, I remember that show because I became part of your posse then! :) Isn't it ironic that when put to the test, most people have trouble self-assessing themselves accurately or as others do?

If a person knows how to incorporate external feedback from others into their perceived identity it can be beneficial in the workplace. Here's a little I/O Psychology tidbit for you: those scoring highest on a scale called Identiy Integration on various self-assement instruments typically have better on-the-job performance scores.  Makes sense really.

It just goes to show how lousy we are at knowing who we are and what is good for us. I just read an article about a similar subject: The Costanza Principle
vnewman2
IW Pick
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 2:25:38 PM
Re: Likeability factor
Regarding Underpromise/Overdeliver: Some people like to deliberately use this as a manipulative tool and I think it backfires miserably.

If you know something is possible and just plan on making it seem like it isn't only until the very end, what ends up happening is the other person is already disappointed.  Therefore whatever you deliver is likely to only take the person back to status quo.

I'll give my favorite personal example.  It's my engagement story.  The short version is my now-husband then-boyfriend told me we were going camping for the weekend.  I hate camping.  I hate it in the same way I hate liverwurst:  I've never tried it but just know I'm not going to like it.

So I wore my worst clothes, didn't pack a hairbrush, brought next to nothing - after all, I'm just going to be sleeping in dirt right?  Instead he drives me to beach and proposes on the sand then takes me to a 5 star resort.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm not grateful but..............................................

I was so miserable to start and dreading the whole thing that my excitment level wasn't nearly where it should have been.  I spent the whole trip running around getting things that I didn't bring in preparation to be a 5 star resort/fancy dinners out...like clothes of any kind.  And combs and hair brushes.  I look like I'm on death's door in our engagement pictures.

Lesson: People are much happier when you manage their expectations PROPERLY.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
7/28/2014 | 2:33:23 PM
Re: Likeability factor
What a great analogy (and totally with you on the camping thing!). It's true though: We like to look forward to events -- or even knowing deadlines or tasks will be completed on time. At work, knowing X will be done by Friday, allows us to plan Y on Monday. If it arrives two days early, as a manager you feel you have to praise someone for finishing early (perhaps at the cost of another project), and it then throws off your other plans. Or you may question whether all facets of X were completed if it didn't take as long as expected. 
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 2:57:45 PM
Re: Likeability factor
@Alison.  Hahahaha :)  Why live outside if there's perfectly good shelters available I always say...

You make a good point.  If I ask for something from a client and expect it on a certain day, if it shows up early, it totally stresses me out because I'm a planner.  If I had just checked it off my list, I probably don't want it back so soon!
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 3:26:11 PM
Re: Likeability factor
@vnewman2- Oh, it is a wonder you ever married him. :)

Seriously I get that. I would have felt the same way. But let me give you a counter example that I think makes people think that works more than it does-- movies.

Haven't we all gone to a movie we were really looking forward to and it was just fine but because we were really excited it felt bad? And haven't we all gone with friends to a movie we didn't want to see, and we liked it more than we thought we would so it was a pleasant surprise?

That is a classic underpromise/overdeliver situation, right? 

Also, tell your husband if he ever suprises you with a trip in the future, that he has to at least pack a secret bag for you. :)
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 10:56:57 PM
Re: Likeability factor

Lesson: People are much happier when you manage their expectations PROPERLY.

 

@vnewman2   Thanks for passing along your account of this principle, one I surly won't forget.  : ) 

vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
8/4/2014 | 5:11:19 PM
Re: Likeability factor
@Technocrati - hahahaha. Yes...note to self: all women want to look good in their engagement pictures...not like they just rolled out of bed.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 3:27:53 PM
Re: Likeability factor
Identity Integration? Is that different than self-awareness?
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 3:08:02 PM
Re: Likeability factor
Dave agreed on both accounts. Having people around you that are truly looking after your professional success is hard to find but invaluable once you get them. The issue is everyone is so busy with their own careers they rarely have time to mentor the bench. It's critical mistake for the long term success of any organization.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2014 | 4:25:18 PM
Re: Likeability factor
@impactnow- Right. People do have a tendency to get "too busy." I think we need to keep talking about the value of it until people really see that not doing it is worse for them than finding the time.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 1:43:47 PM
Re: How to Be An Office Hero
Good article and good points, but I'm not sure how I feel about the research mentioned for the first two points (the third one I'll gladly agree with, as I feel like I've experienced it firsthand... but maybe that's selection bias). If people know they're part of a study, they're bound to answer differently than they would in a real-world situation. The people in the concert ticket study probably just wanted the tickets and filled out the survey in a hurry ("Yeah, I said row 10 and it's row 8, 3 stars, whatever") - or if there wasn't really a concert involved, we have the same problem. It depends too much on trusting people to answer honestly and carefully than something objective.

In the second study, if people were aware they were being watched, they might have acted more timidly because they felt more anxious, or overracted on the agression to ham it up - because they knew their real job wasn't on the line. Likewise, the reviewers might have been more inclined to answer towards some perceived ideal of the 'assertive negotiator' rather than about what they would have liked to deal with in a real work setting. For example, if you've been selling X product for five or ten years, you get an idea of what the negotiations go like and what kind of clients you get that you can't replicate in a study. I still agree with the points, but I think this is an area where we're better going on common sense than research results.

Also, I'm glad someone mentioned the scene with Scotty and Geordi as a response to the Scotty comment and this topic in general. That's one of my favorite scenes of all time. Here's the full clip.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/29/2014 | 2:00:07 PM
Re: How to Be An Office Hero
@zerox203- Fair enough. Though usually people are told the study is about somehting else so as to not influence the rreaction. For instance, the people doing the ticket test could have been told they were testing different website configurations, the habits of concertgoers, or other issues. The same with the mock negotiations. they could have been told during the negotiation that the team was monitoring body language or whatever. There are ways to make the people self-conscious about something else so they aren't self-conscious about the thing you are testing.

I'll go back and see if I can figure out what the "control" was in these cases.
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.
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.
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.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 11:16:59 PM
Re: Better
@tzubair: I wasn't very clear, I think (or I'm misunderstanding you).  Apologies.  My point is that by purposely piecemealing things, you're building a stronger relationship with your client/coworker/boss/whomever.
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. 
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/1/2014 | 10:38:25 PM
The Office Hero and Personal Introspection

Thanks David for a really good look at some Office Hero Myths.   I am looking within to see how these myths apply to me, it is very interesting to be guilty of many of the misconceptions.   Two positve things (at least ) have come of this.  

1. I have even more awareness of areas of personal improvement and ... 

 

2. I know I am not alone.

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