Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Is Being Friends With Your Boss a Good or Bad Thing?

The key to answering this question is dependent on how competent you are at your job. Like any good workplace relationship where there is an imbalance of power, the fundamental business relationship needs to be a good one.

Think of the relationship between a customer and supplier. If the fundamental business arrangement is flawed, it doesn't matter how much two parties like each other, the relationship just won't work because it doesn't have a solid foundation. However, if the individuals in the customer-supplier relationship happen to respect each other as individuals, they are much more willing to work through the business issues to get to a working relationship that is mutually beneficial. The same is true when working with your boss; your focus needs to be on gaining respect for a job well done.

Here are some key things to keep in mind to help build a solid work relationship with your boss while letting the friendship component be completely separate.

Make their job easy for them, always present issues with your proposed solution - even if it isn't accepted it shows initiative and ownership.
Recognize differences in your personalities and do your 50% to bridge the gap (in any good relationship each person needs to contribute by doing their 50%). However, make sure you communicate your needs to your boss to allow him/her to do their 50%. Your boss can't read your mind and may be unaware of something they could be doing differently to allow you to be more productive at your job.
Keep them in the loop based on their preferences, not yours.
If your boss likes lots of detail then give him/her lots of detail; over time, once you've gained their trust, you'll probably be asked to provide less. However, let your boss be the one to make this decision.
If your boss doesn't need all the details, just that they are "covered", then give him/her a minimum of detail. You can always take time to review work in more detail at an appropriate time to ensure they understand the depths of your talents. Choose the appropriate time for this based on your bosses ability to provide you with the attention you need.
Ensure your boss is aware of skills you don't currently use in your job. Your boss is the number one person that can open doors for you, so make sure they know more about you than you are able to showcase in your current role.
In summary, trying to manufacture a friendship to help solve fundamental issues in the working relationship will likely result in the opposite effect and exacerbate the situation. If friendships develop at work, so be it. One of my closest friends in the world started off as someone that worked for me. The friendship developed over time, but was only made possible because of the high degree of respect that I had for the work that she delivered.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tips - Ten Years Later, Still Thinking Rather Than Doing

Have you had a client tell you they finally got around to implementing advice you gave them ten years ago? It sometimes happens in the tips business when it comes to creating products like booklets, videos, books, audios, classes, or other formats to share a person's expertise.

You may even be that person who is still kinda sorta thinking about the possibility of one day getting started on looking at all that you've got on your computer's hard drive (not to mention all that memory in your head!) to maybe do something with some of that - if the stars and planets are aligned just the right way and, well, you get the idea.

On a practical level, while it's true that each person has their own work styles and perspectives on valuing their knowledge and considering ways to share it, think about the missed opportunities to help others and yourself. It comes down to the idea that you are being selfish by not sharing what you know with those who can use it to improve their life.

The frequently heard concern is lack of time. In ten years?? Really?? The truth is not lack of time. You know that in your heart of hearts. The truth is about the choice you make about your time, simple as that. You can write five how-to tips in just a couple minutes, even with the editing process. A top-10 list takes you a few minutes longer. Doing a top-10 list of tips for each of 10 days gets you 100 tips. The odds are high that this barely made a dent in your day time-wise.

That list of 100 tips becomes the cornerstone for a whole product line, one product at a time. Is this looking more approachable to you? Maybe you're already distracted by the tips that have started to flood your consciousness as you're reading this article.

Now, back up. Capture ONE tip. That's right. ONE tip. You know you can do that, right? Write it down or type it into a file on your computer. That one tip is something you'd suggest to a client or a reader of your work or a member of your class or audience.

Then add ONE more tip. That is how this gets done, and gets done now rather than ten years from now. It's the same approach that many people use to successfully drop weight, one pound at a time. Otherwise it all gets to be too big a project to imagine at all much less to begin on the journey.

No matter how long it's been since you thought about doing an information product, you can start it now, today. One of the most challenging aspects of many things is merely getting started. That may even be something you teach to those people who are part of your professional community. Get started, one at a time. Not rocket science yet often difficult to apply to our own life.

In fact, by now you may be laughing to yourself about the irony of this, since you were one of the people who proudly told a consultant you hired that you finally implemented their suggestions, ten years later. They will understand, just as you do now.