During a job interview, it’s important to explain what you can do for the company, but it is just as imperative to build trust with the person interviewing you. Here are three ways to align yourself with the interviewer:
Mirror body language.
Even if you aren’t comfortable, portray yourself as poised and friendly. When the interviewer uses open body language — leaning in toward you or keeping her arms open — do the same.
Find common interests.
Look for ways that the interviewer and you are alike. These may be shared interests or experiences. Ideally they are work-related; for example, you may both have a passion for solving tough problems.
Tell stories with a moral.
Every anecdote you tell should have a point. Well-shaped stories with a purpose can convey your most desirable qualities — loyalty, work ethic, or trustworthiness.
Adapted from “Guide to Getting a Job.”
If you want to empower, engage, or motivate others, don’t just focus on increasing your positive behaviors. Pay attention to the things you need to stop doing at the same time.
Here are three to avoid:
Judgmental body language.
No one likes perceived condescension. Watch out for scowling, furrowed brows, and quizzical or sarcastic looks (as if to say, “Are you stupid?”). While seemingly harmless, each of these subtle darts creates a considerable amount of relationship damage.
It’s almost impossible for people to feel safe if the boss takes up most of the airtime or cuts people off. Do more listening than talking, and let people finish their thoughts.
It’s hard on employees to wonder who is going to show up: “smiling, charming, funny boss” or “judgmental, intense, snapping manager.” Try to keep your tone and personality consistent so people know what to expect.
Adapted from “Which Behaviors Must Leaders Avoid?” by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins.
It’s pretty common these days to have more than one manager. But having two (or more!) bosses can be challenging. If you’re interviewing for such a position, try to investigate whether your managers are on the same side. If not, you’ll have trouble from day one.
Ask your potential managers something like, “In my first 30 days in this job, what are the most important things for me to accomplish?” If they have different priorities, kindly point that out and ask how the conflicts will be resolved.
Of course they won’t always agree 100%, but if they have similar goals or are willing to work with each other amicably to resolve potential clashes, you should be able to manage your relationship with them.
Adapted from “Are You Considering a Job with Two Managers?” by Priscilla Claman.
When our brains concentrate intensely on one task, we miss what is happening around us. This means that when your team diligently focuses on a task, they’re likely missing something.
Here are two ways to identify those blind spots:
Assign the task of speaking up.
Every time your team meets, include an agenda item that reads: “What are we missing?” Rotate responsibility for answering that question so everyone eventually contributes.
Get an outsider’s perspective.
Bring people in from other parts of the organization to analyze your project. They might not know about the progress, methods, or solutions being worked on already, but they may see something your team doesn’t.
Adapted from “Why You May Be Blind to a Good Idea (and What to Do About It)” by Cathy N. Davidson.
If you’ve been charged with developing the case for a new project at your company, imagine you’re telling a story. The narrative starts, as all good ones do, with a problem. This is the business need you’re trying to solve. Then, identify the characters: the stakeholders who have the authority to approve or reject your business case; the beneficiaries who stand to gain from your proposal; and the subject-matter experts who will clarify how to solve the problem. Next you’ll consider alternatives for meeting the business need—different ways your story might play out.
After making the best choice, you’ll create a very high-level project plan. This is the plot. Then estimate the costs and benefits to determine the return on investment (ROI), which is the satisfying end.
Remember this isn’t a mystery novel—your story needs to be clear and easy to understand.
Adapted from the HBR Guide to Building Your Business Case.
To surface groundbreaking ideas, you need to challenge the long-held beliefs the people at your company hold about doing business.
Here’s how to kill the status quo:
Impose artificial limitations.
It may seem counterintuitive, but this can spark creativity. By enforcing mock constraints – for example, focusing exclusively on existing customers – you are forced to dig deeper to uncover more inventive solutions.
Compare your organization to others.
See how your company’s best practices stack up against others, especially those outside your industry. This is not about emulating others; it’s about stimulating new ideas that might not come to light otherwise.
Look for unorthodox opportunities.
Don’t confine your creative thinking to products or services. Instead, consider every touch point between you and your customers to improve how they interact with your organization.
Adapted from dapted from “Free Yourself from Conventional Thinking,” by Brian Klapper.
There are countless distractions, threats, and roadblocks to getting work done. Good bosses take pride in shielding their people from these annoyances.
Here are three ways you can help your employees focus on what matters:
Show up on time.
One of the biggest detractors from work is wasted time. This might be time your people spend waiting for you to show up to meetings or to give needed direction. Being important doesn’t give you permission to impede productivity.
Stop the intrusions.
Set aside time when your employees can think and work, and not be expected to respond right away to voicemail and email. Let them have good fights.
Don’t avoid conflict.
Make your people feel safe enough to speak their minds, even to you, so they have productive and creative disagreements.
Adapted from The Boss as Human Shield” by Robert I. Sutton.