Take your car in for a tune-up and an alignment is often part of that process. Left unchecked, your car may pull slightly right or left. You can easily course correct, but if you didn’t you could soon be going in the very wrong direction. In the office, tune-ups look more like performance appraisals, reviews, and new goal setting periods and an alignment check still needs to be part of that process. Who are you aligning with and from whom are you seeking guidance? Are your choices causing you to go slightly right or left? If you keep making them will you or your career be completely off track? Stop and check and utilize today’s Monday Moment guidance to possibly adjust your alignment in the following three areas.
1. Invisible Mentors
We’re not often aware of those influencing our behavior the most. There are the bosses who share guidance and development, but those are obvious. There are our volunteer mentors that we’ve arranged or coordinated with in the workplace and then there are those who we chat with in the hallway or who influence our behaviors in ways that appear almost invisible. Consider who you hang out with in the break room. Take a look at who’s advice you take when faced with an employee problem. Look at how they are perceived in the organization and realize that by the very nature of hanging out with him or her, you are subject to the same assumptions. It may be time for an adjustment. Step back. Look at those closest. Decide if you like them more than you care about the impact of their reputation on your own, which is always possible. But, if you have concerns, limit the amount of time you consciously choose to align with them.
2. Unverified Assumptions
In a conversation with a coaching client last week, a manager told me a story about how another co-worker felt and why he was behaving in ways that weren’t productive. I happened to have more intel directly from the source and knew the assumptions being made were inaccurate. We’ve all been guilty of this at times, and yet far too often, our behavior matches up with our assumptions, while the facts and realities are different. Much as our culture is littered with fake news and rumors, is your leadership and professional behavior based on assumptions that you’ve yet to verify, but trust? It may be time for an adjustment. Ask more questions. Seek out truth and have the more challenging conversations to uncover the root of the issue. Be mindful of just how easily assumptions with a bit of tenure, start to feel like the truth, when in fact, they are just beliefs with a bit of age behind them.
Very few like to hang out with the complainers in the group, however, if in your office one of your frequent actions is to try and persuade the complainer to see the world differently, take caution. Even with good intention, aligning with the difficult, the negative, the complainers, or the toxic in your workplace, even if you’re their leader, will cause some of how they are perceived, to rub off on you. It may be time for an adjustment. Keep your distance. If you’re the leader of this complainer who appears tireless in his or her efforts, delegate your development or guidance through someone who is closer to them or is someone they trust. Speak well (or say nothing) of this person in front of those who might be making inaccurate judgments. Be consciously aware of what impact their behavior may be having on your reputation, but also how much of a difference you are really making. If you’re making progress on how they perceive the world, keep going. If not, and they’re simply treating you, their colleague or boss, as a conduit for more negative sharing, consider limited how often you find yourself in their presence.
Let’s face it. Our parents had a point. It does matter who you align with and who you hang out with, even at work. Others may trust you, but not trust your known associations. No matter how much you are valued, this kind of doubt creates questions that could limit a promotion or special project assignment. A realignment is not all about reputation, nor all about alienating those you believe you can help. A realignment is about being mindful of your surroundings, your actions, and your associations so that you can make minor course corrections, if needed, before you find your career going in a completely wrong direction.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121.