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Tag Archives: Work-life Lessons

Work-life Lessons 7: Choose a good attitude

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in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

 If there is only one thing you can work on that will change you and your working environment, it is your attitude.

Have you ever noticed that a positive attitude is infectious? Having employees with pleasant attitude could mean the difference between a positive and supportive working environment and a workplace full of destructive conflict and negativity. You’ll go an extra mile for someone with a good attitude who’s pleasant to be around. Regardless of the circumstances of the company, you can create an environment where people genuinely care. If there is only one thing you can work on that will change you and your working environment, it is your attitude.

This article will discuss the importance of developing a pleasant attitude as well as give you some tips on how you can develop it.

Developing a good attitude in the work place creates a win-win situation. As an employee, a pleasant and positive attitude is indispensable to creating relationships with peers that will help you succeed in your professional endeavors. Your work attitude determines how high you can climb the corporate ladder. Your attitude determines how other people in your working environment perceive you. If you decide to have a cheerful, outgoing attitude, people will be drawn to you and you will be easy to collaborate with. You have total control. Your attitude determines whether you are open and proactive or closed and reactive, positive or defensive, advance ideas or bury them; and by our own attitude, we and we alone actually decide whether to succeed or fail.

For the workplace or organization, the right attitude translates to productivity. The single most efficient way to increase your productivity is to have a positive attitude at work. There is no other magic formula that increases productivity other than really, really enjoying your work.

Pick One Simple Pleasant Attitude (at a time) and Start Working On It

As a fair warning, working on one’s attitude is simple in concept but hard to do. It would be best to work with someone, a mentor for example, that you can collaborate with and with whom you can review feedback. Ask for frank feedback from your co-workers or your supervisor. There are countless work attitudes to choose from:

  • Courtesy and Humility – This is about being courteous and respectful of people in the office no matter what their rank and designation. Courtesy shows politeness in one’s attitude and behavior toward others. Basic courtesy is polite speech or action. Use words like “please” and “thank you”.   Another pleasant trait is humility, which simply means being humble when conducting yourself in the office. Humility is about having a healthy self-concept and being confident that you’re fulfilling your plan and purpose with integrity.
  • Punctuality and Preparation – This means two things: first, punctuality is the act of being on-time in your appointments, which means showing respect to others; second, it is about being prepared to engage and the ability to complete a required task before or at a designated or committed time. Cultural differences make this attitude a little more difficult to traverse, but being on time and prepared are universal signs of respect.
  • Pleasant – You can go an extra mile for someone with a good attitude. Unpleasant attitudes are restrictive and counter-productive. An example of an unpleasant attitude is giving non-constructive feedback. Upon receiving this feedback, people tend to become more reserved and keep things to themselves so as not to be criticized or blamed. Another simple tip is to wear a smile. Smiles are disarming and opening. Smile often even when the going gets tough. I know it is difficult. Try getting into the habit of smiling even when stressed. You will soon notice less knotted facial muscle and people will work better with you.

People with pleasant attitudes are a lot more fun to be around and consequently have better relations at work. This translates into better teamwork with peers; better working relations if you are a manager; more satisfied customers if you are in a service job, etc. Taking control of your attitude in the workplace and making it a habit to be courteous, humble, punctual, prepared and pleasant requires personal accountability. This means taking ownership of improving your attitude and understanding what you need to do to achieve it. You can do it one small step at a time by taking personal ownership. Bear in mind that it is a continuous process.

Work-life Lesson 7 Takeaways:

  • Having employees with pleasant attitudes means the difference between a positive and productive work environment or a workplace full of problems and negativity.
  • Your attitude determines how other people in your working environment perceive you. If you decide to have a cheerful, outgoing attitude, people will be drawn to you and you will be easy to collaborate with.
  • When working on improving attitude in the workplace, it would be best to work with a mentor whom you can collaborate with. You can ask for frank feedback from your co-workers or have a discussion with your supervisor.
  • Make it a habit to be courteous, humble, punctual, prepared and pleasant. You can do it one small step at a time by taking personal ownership.

Photo by KROMKRATHOG.

Work-life Lessons 6: Paralysis of Analysis

10

in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

It is better to do something and learn from mistakes than live the inertia of paralysis of analysis. – Ira Fialkow

It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to do a series of extensive analyses before making a decision. You forget to directionally see the action that you want to take because you are too focused on the analysis. Others are just afraid of making mistakes and face the embarrassment that may come with it. Some simply over-analyze because they aspire things to be perfect and expect to do everything right.

Let’s start this lesson with a very simple premise— Mistakes are not only the result of simply not thinking before doing or doing things by impulse, but are also often the byproduct of serious analytic thinking about the right course of action.  Yes, logically you would reduce the likelihood of mistakes or failure if you subject your idea to a series of analyses. That is perfectly fine and most of the time—if you want to make not only the right decision but also better decisions, you have to use analytics; it is what is expected and proper in the business environment to mitigate risk. However, you have to also caution yourself from going into “paralysis of analysis.” You could end up doing nothing. We live in a fast-paced and ultra competitive world. Sometimes, when you are a step slower in making things happen, opportunity passes you by. Over-analysis is a common cause that slows people down when it comes to making things happen or taking actions. In some extreme cases, it confines them to a cycle of continuous analysis and internal debates about the assumptions used in the analysis. This results in the actual output of the analysis being the focus rather than the action to be taken certainly, doing the right amount of analysis is important, but balancing it with action guarantees results.

Enjoy the Fun of Failure

Most people have used those little self-stick notepapers more commonly known as Post-it notes. But few know that this very successful 3M product was not a planned innovation. It did not come from a group who researched, got the idea, and followed an organized process of product development. Spencer Silver from 3M was trying to develop a strong adhesive in the 3M research laboratories in the 1970s. Silver successfully developed a new adhesive but it was weaker than what 3M already had in the market. The adhesive was weak; it stuck to objects, but could easily be lifted off. From the point of view of product development given the original specifications, the exercise was a failure; but Silver did not discard it. Four years later, Arthur Fry (another 3M employee) was using paper as a bookmarker, but it kept falling out. Fry remembered Silver’s adhesive and he used it to coat the markers. With the weak adhesive, the markers stayed in place, yet lifted off without damaging the pages. Today, these sticky notes are one of the most popular office products available.

The Post-it case exemplifies a culture in 3M that encourages employees to create new products and take action without fear of failure. Spencer Silver failed to develop the product he originally intended. This failure or unexpected outcome created a better opportunity for the right kind of invention that happened years later. You want people to be willing to take action. It’s better to “do something” and learn from mistakes than live in the inertia of paralysis of analysis. “Doing something” means start making something happen. “Just Do It”, as the famous Nike brand tagline advocates. Failure doesn’t always lead to success, like in the case of the invention of Post-it — but you can’t succeed if you are not willing to fail.

Increasing Innovation Speed

Speed is an attribute that companies need in today’s competitive business environment. A company’s ability to innovate is a direct driver of its capability to increase revenue and economic value. Leaders can increase innovation speed by changing the culture associated with making mistakes. Companies have to create an organizational culture whereby mistakes are seen as an inevitable part of innovation and learning. Increasing innovation speed means faster product development — to be in the marketplace first with the goods and services customers want as well as to constantly innovate with new services and features that give the customers what they desire. Another kind of speed is the speed of processing everything through the organization. This means having end-to-end processes superior than those of competitors that translate to excellent customer services. Google exemplifies this today by allowing employees to spend up to 20% of their work time in personal projects related to the company’s business. Several of Google’s successful services were created by employees in their personal project work time—Gmail and Adsense for example. If you are going to innovate, you have to be willing to listen, make mistakes, and try new things. Innovation speed is the kind of speed that can only be achieved by making things happen with a bias to action, not by being afraid of failure.

Work-life Lesson 6 Takeaways:

  • Mistakes are not only the result of simply not thinking before doing, but are also often the byproduct of serious analytic thinking about the right course of action.
  • Failure doesn’t always lead to success, such as the invention of Post-it — but you can’t succeed if you are not willing to fail.
  • Companies have to create an organizational culture where making mistakes is seen as an inevitable part of innovation and learning.
  • Innovation speed is the kind of speed which can only be achieved by making things happen with a bias to action, not by being afraid of failure.

Link to Previous Lesson:  Understand the Skills and Abilities that Differentiate You From everyone Else. Whenever You Have an Opportunity, Use Them.

Photo by Maple

 

 

 

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