When my son was four, he was into geography. I was going on a trip to Las Vegas. The night before I left, we talked about my trip as I put him to bed.
â€œMom,â€ he said so seriously. â€œThere are mountains near Las Vegas.â€
â€œYes, there are,â€ I answered back.
â€œDonâ€™t look that way and walk that way,â€ he said, pointing left and looking right. Iâ€™m not sure whether he thought his mother was going to walk into a mountain or walk off a cliff. Either way it was sage advice. Thatâ€™s why I remember it.
A friend of mine sees the world with clear eyes much like my son. She told me about a woman who got fired. I was sorry for the womanâ€™s trouble, but interested in the sequence of events.
Angel is an overachiever. She prides herself on doing the best. She was a manager at a small company that was bought by a huge corporation. She knows the business sheâ€™s in. Not many are as good at what Angel does. Angel is one of the best.
Unfortunately when Angel had her first meeting with the corporate executives, she didnâ€™t take time to get to know them. She prepared as if it were any meeting. She acted as if they should get to know her. She presented in a way they found inappropriate for the setting. Strike one.
Angel lost credibility in the eyes of the big guns.
Angel knew the meeting went badly, and she didnâ€™t like the feeling -â€“ no she didn’t, not one bit. She highly valued her personal brand.
After the meeting, people tried to explain what happened. They tried gently to coach Angel toward gaining back what sheâ€™d lost. Angel wasnâ€™t used to being coached and was preoccupied with her wounds. It was a new experience for her to lose. She couldnâ€™t get over it. She couldnâ€™t quit talking about it. The people who worked for her had to be told that corporate didnâ€™t â€œget it,â€ that corporate â€œdidnâ€™t know the business.â€
Angel was feeling sorry for herself. She was spreading her feelings, generating bad morale. Strike Two.
Soon everything in Angelâ€™s eyes became â€œthem versus me.â€ They did reports one way. Angel did them differently. Rather than adjusting to make her reports match the corporate model, Angel just explained over and over how the corporate model was flawed. Angel was looking at herself not at the work.
Of course, with each little thing that she didnâ€™t do to make things work, Angel left less appreciated and complained more. It became the vicious circle. Sheâ€™d mess up. Theyâ€™d tell her. Sheâ€™d complain and mess up more.
People around her saw the signs of her departure. They tried to tell to her. Sheâ€™d only complain again. The vicious circle got wider as people, who wanted to help, got tired of listening. Then Angel would complain about them. Until one day, it was just easier for everyone if Angel wasnâ€™t there. Strike Three.
Angel looked in the wrong direction, and walked herself right out the door. She had violated a basic business rule.
When your boss or client points the way to go,
donâ€™t bite the pointing finger, turn your head and take a look.
We may help write our job descriptions and our performance appraisals. But our company, boss, or clients have the last word about whether we are executing the tasks needed to get things done as they should be.
Itâ€™s nice to think, â€œMy company needs me more than I need them.â€ Itâ€™s nice. Itâ€™s also not smart, and itâ€™s never true. Companies need problem employees less than they need my all of my talents and yours combined. So if we canâ€™t agree with our boss on our job description, weâ€™ll be the ones who go, not them.
Watch where youâ€™re looking.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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