When was the last time you didn’t share your honest opinion when asked? Or the last time you got upset with someone and didn’t let the person know why? Or maybe you procrastinated on an assignment because you didn’t see the value in it. It’s hard to recognize our own passive-aggressive behavior, but if we don’t confront it, it breeds mistrust and erodes our credibility.
First, identify what drives you to be passive-aggressive. Understanding the underlying cause (maybe a fear of failure, or rejection, or conflict) allows you to address it head-on. Then be honest with yourself about what you really want: What do you truly think or really want to say? What outcome are you hoping for? Think about how to express those desires in a direct, respectful way. And finally, get input from others to see if you’re improving.
Adapted from “Signs You’re Being Passive-Aggressive” by Muriel Maignan Wilkins.
Many people who sit through meetings struggle to be heard. Here are three things you can do to conquer your next meeting.
- Master the “pre-meeting. ” Much of the work can happen at these “meetings before the meetings,” where people meet early to connect, throw ideas around, garner support, and clarify the true purpose of the meeting. Participating in these makes it easier to join the conversation later.
- Prepare to speak spontaneously. Collaboration and decision-making happen through conversation, not formal PowerPoint presentations. If you’re uncomfortable speaking off the cuff, write down what you want to say ahead of time.
- Keep an even keel. Use active, authoritative language that shows you’re taking ownership of your ideas. Don’t give in to sarcasm or curtness when you’re frustrated.
Adapted from “Women, Find Your Voice” by Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, and Mary Davis Holt.
When crafting strategy, companies too often get mired in analyzing the problem. But to compete, a company’s leaders must make choices — about what it will and won’t do, whom it will and won’t serve, and where it will and won’t devote resources.
If your strategy process has stalled, stop focusing on the problem and identify the choices you need to make. For example, your problem may be that your manufacturing plant is inefficient and unproductive, but the choice you have to make is whether you will invest $500 million dollars to retrofit it or shut it down. This makes an abstract conversation more concrete and focuses on how you might solve the problem.
Adapted from the Playing to Win Strategy Toolkit.
Resisting temptation takes energy — which is why, unsurprisingly, when our energy is low we’re more inclined to behave unethically. Research suggests that because morning people and night owls have differing energy levels throughout the day, their willpower also ought to wax and wane. And indeed, new research shows that morning people are less ethical at night, and night owls are less ethical in the morning. We can better control our own work schedules with our chronotypes in mind.
Many of us are tempted to squeeze in that extra hour of work. Well, if you’re a morning person squeezing it in at night, you create a situation in which resisting temptation may be harder than ever (not to mention the outcome may suffer). And night owls who schedule extra hours for themselves early in the morning face the same issue.
Adapted from “Morning People Are Less Ethical at Night” by Christopher M. Barnes, Brian Gunia, and Sunita Sah.
Waiting until your strategic plan is perfect before presenting it to a leader for review renders her practically useless. Seek real input, not a pat on the back. Ask your leader early on whether there’s a different way she would frame the strategy problem. Then go back with the possible solutions and ask her if you’re overlooking anything. Return a third time when you have reverse-engineered the possibilities to determine what you believe would and wouldn’t work.
See if your leader can come up with other scenarios in which you could test them. Doing this helps you avoid tunnel vision, gets the leader excited about the strategy, and results in a more productive process and outcome.
Adapted from “Help Leaders Be Less Useless at Strategy” by Roger Martin.
When conflict flares up at work, it might seem easier to avoid the other person involved. But this isn’t a good idea. Unresolved matters nag at you and hurt your productivity. To repair the relationship, start by recognizing your own culpability. Have you exacerbated the problem somehow? Then clear the air: “Sometimes our work styles have been a little different.
Let’s make this collaboration more productive by brainstorming how we can work together well.” Think about the dynamic (are you pulling where she’s pushing?), and change what isn’t working. Then, don’t let this resolution disintegrate by falling back into your old patterns.
Adapted from “How to Repair a Damaged Professional Relationship” by Dorie Clark.
People in teams often think they already know how to work together. But each person probably has a different style of working. In order to define the team culture, you need to establish process goals (how you will work) in addition to task goals (what you will work on). Address what it will feel like to work with the team: Will everyone share responsibilities or will someone assign tasks? Then think about what the relationships will look like, and what you want from them: Will they be social and personal or all business? Will they divide and conquer, or work side-by-side?
Finally, concentrate on what you value:Do we care about speed or accuracy? Risk-taking or compliance? Innovation or building on core strengths? It’s always good to spell out what you’re aiming for so the team’s culture doesn’t evolve by itself in a different direction.
Adapted from the HBR Guide to Leading Teams by Mary Shapiro.