We’ve all had bad days but what happens when bad days turn into bad weeks, that turn into bad months that turn into you having “the talk” with your boss? What happens when you’re doing everything you know to do but it’s not producing the results you’ve gotten in the past? What happens when your bag of tricks don’t work, when your “go-to” techniques fall flat or worst, backfire? What happens when work just isn’t working? Let’s talk about it.
Sometimes you’re firing on all cylinders and you can do no wrong and then sometimes you are hitting your head up against a brick wall and nothing is going right. When things are going great we rarely stop and ask why. You should, but that’s another post. This is about those other times… the not so great ones. When work is going bad – really bad – we need to stop and pick up the pieces of what’s left, while we still can. While you’re picking up the pieces of a battered reputation there are somethings you can start doing today.
Take an honest look at What You’re Doing and How You’re Doing It. Rolling over the people around you is a surefire way to be a short term team member. People are not obstacles to success; they’re partners.
If how you’re trying to accomplish your task is destroying your relationships; you’re failing. Likewise, retracing the same unfruitful paths, desperately searching for evidence of success, screams “confidence without competence.” If what you’re doing is not working, if how you’re doing it is falling flat then you have to make a change. It’s very difficult to adopt change, especially when you’re methods have worked in the past. We can experience success in the past, but the past doesn’t always work in the present. What got you here won’t keep you here. An unwillingness to learn new skills means you can’t increase or maintain your current level of influence.
Embrace the new skills it will take to break through the barriers that stand in front of you.
If you have checked your What and How then it’s time to look at your Why. Why are you doing things the way you’re doing them? Biased or self-serving motives will cause you to lose all relational credibility. People can smell a stinky motive. No for the sake of no, being a roadblock to “flex your muscles” is a fast track to being marginalized. Efficient organizations have a way of weeding out barriers to growth. It’s the organization’s natural immune system at work.
Ulterior motives can turn the right action into the wrong decision. You can be totally right and totally wrong at the same time. If What you did was right, and How you did it was acceptable then stop and check your Why. Having pure motives, leading by relationship, means coming alongside your teams for the growth of the organization.
We’ve all made mistakes and we always will. The problem isn’t making mistakes, the problem is making the same mistake. When we make the same mistakes over and over we communicate that we haven’t and will not change this behavior.
When we make a mistake we can’t camp out but we also can’t act like it didn’t happen. A failure to produce a project or growth, a relational trainwreck, are warning signs that something is wrong. Unless you stop and do a postmortem on your mistakes you will never grow past them.
Talking about your mistakes is not learning from your mistakes. Blaming someone else for your mistakes is not learning from your mistakes. Owning and changing your behavior is learning from your mistakes.
The most systemic cause of failures at work is misalignment. If we are not in alignment with our up-line then we are set up to fail. Misalignment means you are focusing on the wrong things and charging the wrong hills for the wrong reasons. Basically, you’re just wrong. When we’re misaligned every decision seems rogue and counterculture to the organization.
Doctors call it Malalignment.
Malalignment is the most potent risk factor for structural deterioration of the joint …—David T. Felton, The New England Journal of Medicine, 23 Feb. 2006
Doesn’t that perfectly describe why many fail at work? They are not in alignment and therefore cause structural deterioration all around them. Misalignment causes us to point at different goals with different scoreboards. Forget being on the same team, we’re not even playing the same sport. Getting a clear picture of what’s important right now, updating on obstacles to that goal and adjusting your focus as necessary will keep you aligned from the top down.