Is standing out by presenting a unique brand bad for your career?
Grasp the true nature of business competition and you’ll see that the performing arts provide a better analogy than war or sports. There can be many good singers or actors — each outstanding and successful in a distinctive way. Each finds and creates an audience. The more good performers there are, the more audiences grow and the arts flourish. This approach produces positive sum competition.
Michael Porter’s opinion on what constitutes real competition from the HBR article “Stop Competing to Be the Best” by Joan Magretta
Porter’s observations regarding competition are interesting in that it allows for everyone on the business stage to shine as a unique light. While this makes sense on so many levels, is it really practical in the trenches of everyday business, especially during a difficult economic period when job security usually tops the list of what is most important to fellow workers?
In an article from earlier in the week (8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees), the fear of stepping forward and standing out through the presentation of a unique personal brand was emphasized when one reader wrote; “It is precisely these “remarkable” qualities that get me in trouble on the job.”
This raises an important question . . . is an organization’s management ultimately responsible for creating an environment that encourages proactive, out-of-the-box thinking, and if they are indeed responsible, how do they engage one employee without alienating another taking into account the unique capabilities of a diverse workforce?
Here are my tips for managers who want to create a positive environment where individuals are encouraged to shine both individually as well as collectively keeping in mind that while money is obviously important, studies clearly show that employees value above all else the belief that they are making a tangible and meaningful contribution:
- GIVE YOUR EMPLOYEES A FEELING OF BEING APPRECIATED.
- Praise from immediate managers, leadership attention (for example, one-on-one conversations) count. When great work is shared publicly, the impact is multiplied for the employee.
- Look for these opportunities for greater exposure and be quick to hand out the well-deserved praises on a one on one.
- GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO LEAD PROJECTS OR GET INVOLVED WHERE THEY CAN USE THEIR TALENTS (UNIQUE ABILITIES).
- Don’t micromanage when they are the experts. Show trust. Make sure you are not just giving people work that needs to get done but work that energizes them.
- SEEK OUT THEIR ADVICE SO THEY FEEL VALUED AND HAVE A CHANCE TO EXPRESS THEIR PERSPECTIVES.
- Brainstorming works: new perspectives can improve and build on an initial idea or approach. Make the individual feel safe that they can be honest with you. Don’t make people wrong for their advice or perspectives. Create safety in the work community.
- COMMIT TO DEVELOPING YOUR PEOPLE
- Create a culture of education. Arrange for your employees to attend development programs, not just focused on their technical skills but to help them to feel that they are growing. Provide funding for courses not being offered at your company.
- BECOME A MASTER AT COACHING AND MENTORING
- To help your employees to be the best they can, invest time and scheduling to offer direct feedback on how they can maximize their presence, talents and relationships. Creating actionable plans will enable your employees to measure their own achievements and be able to keep you informed on how they are doing. This builds their confidence and makes them want to have the courage to make a bigger difference.
One final thought . . . the cultures within which we work are so serious, perhaps too serious. Laughter should be encouraged . . . so people are not paranoid about messing up.
Remember to check out Roz’s books and CDs . . .