This is a guest blog by Gina Covarrubias
How can you be more proactive to better manage work circumstances and the people in your day-to-day? Here are three topics to consider, along with tips and exercises, to propel yourself toward a path of successful career management.
Tip 1: Squash the Ego and Increase Likability
Researcher and leadership consultant Cy Wakeman brilliantly describes ego in her book, “No Ego.” She states:
“Ego will coax you to be one up or persuade you to be one down. One up, and you’re convinced you’re right, you’re better than the others, and people should always listen to you. One down, and you’re misunderstood, helpless and a victim of circumstances.”
An effective tool to aid your navigation through the nuances of human nature is to recognize and mitigate your own ego.
Ego doesn’t want to consider things like forgiveness, moving on, taking full accountability, or open-mindedness. It wants approval, recognition, and validation. It wants to be right, and it doesn’t consider the costs. Too much ego can hamper the ability to find creative solutions. Worse, self-growth will be hindered, and you may experience people leaving your network.
This is no way to manage a successful career! So, how does one recognize and mitigate ego?
One way to mitigate ego: Allow non-judgmental space for serious self-reflection. You can start by answering some of the self-reflective questions below. Then, work toward building up this practice daily and even create your own questions!
It can be tough work, but answering such questions can be priceless:
- Am I fulfilling my role or am I trying to be a savior?
- Which is most helpful in this situation: my opinion or my expertise?
- How can I improve my own inadequacies?
- Considering my advice for others, am I following it myself?
- Am I being conversational or confrontational?
Most people do not enjoy encountering big egos at work. Colleagues will find you more approachable and flexible without one. Mitigating ego is a proactive way of helping yourself manage circumstances and people around you.
Tip 2: Adhere to Your Core Values
Have you identified your own core values, and do you know what you stand for?
According to indeed.com,
“Core values are personal ethics or ideals that guide you when making decisions, building relationships and solving problems. Identifying the values that are meaningful to you can help you develop and achieve personal and professional goals.”
In other words, core values can act as a guide when you feel stuck, confused, or pressured to take action. Core values represent who you are at your core, or who you strive to be. They belong to you only.
As owner of your core values, it means that:
- Others do not have to abide by your values (just as you don’t have to abide by theirs)
- Employers are not obligated to fulfill your core values; it would be impossible for employers to cater to individual employees
- You are responsible for aligning your life with your core values
If you haven’t gone through the exercise, you can start assembling your core values with a nifty list found here at brenebrown.com.
Living a life that is 100% aligned with your values is most likely impossible. Rather, the more important question for you to answer is, “To what extent am I living in alignment with my core values, and what do I need to change?”
Some people at work will not resonate with your values, and that’s OK. Not everybody will. Recognizing and living your core values will help you attract and connect with like-minded people.
Tip 3: Judge the Results, Not the Person
Sometimes in the workplace, people fail to make a critical distinction between the human who performs vs. the performance itself.
For example, Colleague A may offer feedback in the form of, “Hey, you were very direct and abrupt in that meeting. Maybe you should tone it down next time.” The use of this language almost feels like a personal attack against you, the human.
In contrast, Colleague B articulates that your performance can use improvement, not you. That may look like, “Hey, your communications approach was very direct and abrupt in that meeting. Have you considered building your speaking skills?” Colleague B, therefore, does not address the human but does focus on the results.
Why is this important? Because nobody wants to feel judged or attacked at work. Addressing work results instead of the human allows them the space to disarm. You do yourself no favors if others feel defensive in your presence.
Therefore, if you make judgements at all, try not to critique the actual person. Refrain from statements such as, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing; she isn’t a good colleague; they don’t know how to manage; etc.”
Here is a practical quote from a James Clear article that serves as a great reminder:
“We are so caught up in winning that we forget about connecting. It’s easy to spend your energy labeling people rather than working with them.”
A best practice in the workplace is to judge the things that are a work in progress (such as results, skills, or performance) as opposed to judging someone’s state of being.
Follow these proactive, career-management suggestions as part of your journey toward career well-being and successful network-building.
About the Author Gina Covarrubias
Certified Life Coach, B.S. Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering (Purdue University), M.S. Mechanical Engineering (University of Utah).
Gina is the founder of Deliberate Doing, an exclusive STEM coaching service dedicated to helping engineers fix their careers. She solves the common STEM problem: “What should I be doing with my life?” As a former engineer, she identifies with the technical expert who doubts their personal or professional existence.
Gina’s distinctive background blends life coaching expertise with 12+ years engineering/technology experience in the government, academic and corporate environments, all within the aerospace sector.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on how you build relationships and manage work circumstances.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success