Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Adulting 101

Leading others can leave us open to temptations to shortcut things which we know we shouldn't shortcut. Things which we normally wouldn't skimp on may become less important in an immediate crisis, and we can behave in a more "expedient" way than we usually would.

In a recent TechRepublic article, five elements were listed as ways which project managers could commit career suicide. In summary, the ways were: (a) being rude; (b) lying; (c) gossiping; (d) playing favourites; and (e) getting too attached to outcomes. I found this list interesting: it was all unprofessional behaviour. It is almost like we need a code of conduct for being professional in the workplace. In particular, items (d) and (e) were about losing our objectivity (Alexander, 9 April 2019).

While the TechRepublic article was a list of don'ts, I think we work better with a list of "dos". Further, values are often easier for us to digest than rules. Values give us more elbow room to explore the spirit of what we should do. Following are some values which I find helpful in the workplace:
  • Honesty. Try to be absolutely straightforward with everybody. Check our facts. Try to separate the outcomes from the process. Ask ourselves why we are so attached. Be honest with ourselves about our own performance. 
  • Dignity. Allow everyone their own dignity, and do nothing that may contribute to them losing their composure. That means not gossiping, not running others down, and not spreading "I heard that..." rumours. It means not back-stabbing, or playing hidden agenda games.
  • Respect. Treat everyone with the respect we would show our potential parents-in-law on first meeting them. Give others the opportunity to speak. Listen politely. Assume they have something interesting to contribute of immense value. Thank people.
  • Humility. Say when we are wrong. Don't assume we will get it right all the time: allow ourselves our own mistakes. But when we make a mistake, own it, and do our best to put it right. If we are rude to someone (intentionally or unintentionally), we apologise. 
Being professional in the workplace is not easy: we will all feel that warm wash of shame from time to time. But the earlier we own our own failures, the faster we can learn from them.

Adulting 101 :-)


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