In my work as a profiler I notice that there is often a difference between our self-image and the image that other people hold of us. Come to think of it – that realisation was why I started this journey so many years ago! Let me tell you why I’m thinking about that again now.
We sometimes look at things we do and all we see is the positive aspect, when some of the people we know might see only the negative. This is the basic reason why a strength, taken to an extreme, becomes a weakness. Yes, it has to do with the differences in your perspective, and your previous experience, and it could be that neither of you really sees what really is! (Don’t forget – what we believe we see, hear, feel and taste are only impulses sent to our brain where they are interpreted!)
Let’s say you’re a confident type. You are very capable, feel good in your own skin, and like to try anything that seems interesting, challenging or profitable. Within the limits of not being immoral, illegal or fattening, of course! You exude energy wherever you go. Nothing ever gets you down, you remain positive and solution-focussed at all times. You happily tell people“I can do that”, almost regardless of what it is because if you don’t already know how then you know you can find out.
You may be surprised to know that this can appear to be arrogance. Other people might see only bravado, and when you think you’re helping others see only that you tale over. How do you find out how you are perceived? Ask some people who know you well and that means well enough to give you an honest answer, not just to have an opinion.
As it happens about 30 years ago I used to say I had a “healthy self image” and someone else at that time used the term “arrogant —–“! I was quite surprised when I heard that the first time, since I thought that I was just the nicest guy!
What that all means is just that there is a difference between the internal reality and the external reality, and it means that you need to consider how you are perceived – at least you do if you want others to actually understand what you really meant.
Another pair that are often confused is “comfortable” and “scared”. Some people really are telling the truth when they say “I’m comfortable already, I don’t need to expand my business any further”. Others really mean “I don’t know what to do or even where to start. I don’t want to rock the boat in case it has an adverse effect on my existing business”. In other words – they are stuck inside their ‘comfort zone’, and that isn’t always comfortable.
Stop and think before you tell people that you’re comfortable with the topic of conversation. Are you really? Or are you just afraid of change? Or of the unknown? Or of even finding out?
And here’s the real kicker – it is almost certain that either you or someone you know suffers from one of these misconceptions. If you can’t think of anyone you know who qualifies…. it might be you!
Now we know that – what do we do about it?
If the person is you then that’s easy – just start to see how others perceive you and modify your words and deeds so that the confidence and comfort show out without their negative side-kicks.
If it isn’t you then you need to get them to understand, and that’s because arrogant people don’t get the best out of life, they suffer because the rest of the population treats them differently from everyone else. Confident people are lauded, arrogant people are usually avoided.
People who live in fear of the future spend the greater part of their lives being concerned about something that will never happen! People who only think they are comfortable are self deluded and not having the level of success that they could achieve if they got out of their comfort zone (I call that being “Inside your Excitement Zone” – What happens when you get excited? What happens when you are outside your comfort zone? Both cause your breathing to get shallower, your pulse rate to increase, your face gets flushed… they are the same thing!).
So in both cases people need to know that they are not achieving their full potential, and now you know about this you’re the one who can tell them. Oh, and by the way – if a someone referred this article to you then you may need to gently ask them if they were trying to tell you something!
What other pairs do you think are sometimes mixed up?
Employees that say… “It’s not my job to do that!”
Has this ever happened to you? How did you deal with it?
It only takes the escalation of one sour day where an employee decides that today is a day of rebellion to something you have said or done. That person may be hoping you will tell them that you are about to `help them expand their career opportunities’ elsewhere.
Yes, you have very willing and very happy little vegemites doing whatever you ask of them now in the workplace. We are all good buddies and working as a team but there is always the chance that down the track an existing employee will change their mood. You may even have a new employee that has the sole intention of taking their next employer to the cleaners if your business HR systems are not sharp enough.
One element of the HR system is the Position Description or Duty Statement and it is important in defining an employee’s role in the business. However, this is where some people like to play the `Its not my job’ card. In other words, I can get out of this because it is not in my duty statement, so I do not have to do it.
An example is a housekeeper in a motel is asked to clean some fresh cobwebs noticed in the hallway. The response was that it is not on her duty statement to do this task in the hallways, only in the rooms. On reviewing the duty statement document (and all other employee statements) there was a simple sentence missing at the end of the text. It was missing from all the documents.
Now our normal reaction is to decide that we do not really want that type of attitude from our staff, where they dictate what they will or will not do. First impulse is to send them on their way and replace them. However, we are now in an age where even an unsuccessful `unfair dismissal’ claims can cause havoc to a business, let alone a successful claim outcome.
So what to do?
Overall, your business needs to have its HR systems and paperwork up to scratch. Watertight.
There is a simple sentence that can be used throughout your recruitment. It is a statement to the effect that the employee is to undertake any other duties or tasks as directed by the supervisor/management/owner etc.
You do have the law on your side. Unfortunately, you forfeit the use of the law when your business does not have a good HR system in place to protect both the employer and the employee.
What you do have on your side is the law that acknowledges that an employee is obliged to undertake any role or task as requested or directed by the employer. any directive or request to undertake a task is to be within the bounds of the employee’s skills and ability.
The HR system in any business can usually include the chance to culture staff as to what is expected in attitude and behaviour in your workplace and as your employee. This culturing is preferable from the outset – in the recruitment, formal inductions and orientation process. It does not have to be a great tome of information as long as it sets the scene for what is expected. You can download a proforma set from the Internet but it is best to find on the ground help.
If your business has an induction and orientation routine for new employees that covers the basics of where the tea room and emergency exits are, then you may want to consider expanding it to include a sit down talk about expectations. Then present a document that outlines what was discussed and have the employee sign off that they understand what was discussed. The more documents that an employee has to sign that create the full picture of your business values, ethics, standards of behaviour or code of conduct etc then the better chance that they understand exactly what you expect of them.
Another item to be signed off and helps in reinforcing expectations is the employment contract. It is an agreement between you and your employee and should at the very least include the employee’s:
Job title and duties
Hours of work and number of hours to be worked
Days of work and where
Rate of pay
Employment status, conditions and entitlements
The employee contract can be used to emphasise the expectations of employees by including statements that reinforce these behaviours and attitudes.
This all helps your existing and prospective employees to know exactly where they stand before any ambiguous situation ever arises.
These are simple steps to take but there is a lot more that can be done than to just add a few line sentences into your documents. If you have any concerns about the effectiveness of your HR, take the time to find a good specialist to help get this side of your business into `bullet-proof’ shape.
You may want to consider outsourcing you HR help together with one or two other similar businesses in your area. Ask other business owners what they are doing about it or you can find a contact by starting with your local Chamber of Commerce.