Best wishes for the year ahead!

In my last missive, I promised to include some words of advice on working with difficult people in the workplace. I have included this at the end.

 However, before I get there, I would, in the usual way, like to pen a thought about moving into 2014. Many of us use the beginning of the year to consider making changes.

 How about you?

 How are you expecting this year to be for you?

 What goals have you set for yourself and how will you achieve them?

 I thought I would share a few of my personal attention areas for this year.

 Focus

 Objectives are often missed because one focuses on too many things or gets distracted by events. I am no different. I have two mediation projects in particular which are behind schedule. One is by fifteen months and the other by about ten months. I have diarised to crack on with these with a sense of urgency and have both finished by Easter.

 Sharpening the Saw

 This is a term coined by Stephen Covey. In essence, it is about personal development. I want to be better at what I do! I am at an advanced stage of signing up to a period of part-time study. It is a big time commitment but will improve my skills to help individuals and organisations.

 Reflection

We all have to take our foot off the gas from time to time. I am preparing for my annual long weekend of isolation. I started this a few years ago. For some, I know you can think of nothing more horrific and excruciating than 72 hours on your own in the middle of nowhere with no internet or mobile phone signal. I find that it is an excellent way to recharge, think things through and generate new thoughts.

 Whilst on this point, I am hearing from many HR professionals and CEO’s that three big things for organisations this year will be stress management, resilience and emotional well being.

 Whatever your plans for 2014 I wish you every success in achieving them.

 Working with Difficult People

 Now, as promised some thoughts about working with difficult (often political) people…

 I’d like to be able to say I know a tried and true method of captivating everyone in your office. Sadly, study after study has proven that there is no magical answer. The myriad personalities and situations that arise do not lend themselves well to a singular infallible formula.

Some people seem to breeze through their working lives, manipulating everyone into doing as they please. It seems incredulous that some of the laziest, or most pathological people just happen to choose the right tactic every time, and force their way to the top.

 The important thing is that they won’t just be using one tactic in one way. These people are masters of office politics, subtly adjusting not only their tactics, but the whys and wherefores of their delivery, to each individual situation. They are aware that where one tactic, like ingratiation, might work very well on unsuspecting direct reports, the same is likely to put a boss on red-alert.

 The best advice I can give you is to firstly work on reducing any blind spots you may have and become more self-aware and aware of others. Think Johari window.

 Perception is key. Then you need to work out the kind of action that suits you best. Ask yourself: 

  1. What tactic should I use for this person?
  2. Is this action appropriate for this situation?
  3. When will this tactic work best?
  4. How/where should I best use this approach?

 If you do not consider these questions carefully, you run this risk of your approach not only failing, but backfiring. Ultimately, it is not what you say, it’s how, where, when and to whom you say it. Authenticity is, in the long run, always the best bet.

 Where you have the luxury of being able to think of how to respond rather than react to a particular situation, this extra time can help you to keep out of trouble. A night of sleep can work wonders!

 Until next month,

Clive