LOVE IT DON'T LEAVE IT
26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work
By BEVERLY KAYE SHARON JORDAN-EVANS
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2003 Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans
All right reserved.
Chapter One Ask
And You May Receive
If you don't ask, you're less likely to get what you want. It seems so simple. Yet for some reason, people hold back. They expect their bosses to read their minds. Some just settle for less and bring half their hearts (or brains) to work. Others decide it's easier to leave than to ask. Most people eventually realize that no matter where or with whom they work, at times they will want a little more of something. And the best way to get that something is to ask.
What you don't ask for stays the same. —Unknown
They Want to Hear from You
If you are a solid performer, your managers want to know what will keep you engaged (satisfied, productive) and on the team. They don't want to lose you, physically or psychologically.
I wish he had just asked. I would have said, "Let me see what I can do for you. Let's brainstorm how this might work—for you and for others." Instead of asking, he jumped ship. I am so disappointed. We needed him. He had a great future here.
How ready are you to hold an honest, possibly courageous conversation with your boss, a colleague, a senior leader? How willing are you to ask for what you really want? Here's how someone did just that:
I considered quitting my job rather than asking for time off to participate in an overseas service/study program. It just seemed like too big a request. I thought the answer would be no, especially since our department has been so stretched and stressed lately. But I love this job, and my boss is great. I didn't want to leave. I got some coaching from a friend, created a plan, and just went for it.
I told my boss I was a little nervous about a request I had. But I explained the opportunity in detail, told him what I thought I would gain from it and also what I believed he and my team might gain. For example, I believed I would return with new leadership skills and a more global perspective. In our line of work, both could be valuable assets.
I described seven barriers or downsides of my sabbatical and asked him to add to the list. Then I shared some potential solutions to many of those barriers. An example was finding and training an intern to cover much of my workload while I was gone. I also promised to brainstorm solutions to every other barrier with him and my team.
When I was done, he simply said, "Yes." I sat there in shock. He told me he was impressed with my thoughtful approach and my courage (he knew how nervous I was). I thanked him that day, and many times since. We worked on the details over the next two months. I took my trip and came back to work refreshed, energized, and more capable.
My boss and I are both glad that I asked, rather than leave that job. The way I thank him now is by doing my best at work.
Who do you need to ask? And for what? How will you go about it? Try the following steps.
Step 1: Get Crystal-Clear about What You Want
I had this gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. I would have talked to someone about what I wanted, but first I had to put my finger on it. I'm clear now. I want to feel recognized for what I do here—and I don't mean more money (although that would be nice). I want my boss to say "Thank you" more often. Not just thanks in general but specifically thanks after I've worked late or done a great job on a project. I need to know she values me and my work.
So, what do you want? Get to the bottom of it. Interview yourself:
* What about my job makes me jump out of bed in the morning? * What makes me hit the snooze button?
* If I were to win the lottery and resign, what would I miss the most?
* What would be the one change in my current role that would make me want to stay for a long time?
* If I had a magic wand, what would be the one thing I would change about my department or team? * If I had to go back to a position in my past and stay for an extended period of time, which one would it be and why?
The answers to these questions will reveal what you want. Other chapters in this book will help you further clarify your "wish list." Reread "Ask" after reading them.
Step 2: Consider Who, When, and How You'll Ask
Who can deliver what you want? Consider these people:
Those with information you need
Good listeners and advice givers
Decision makers (your boss?)
How and when will you approach them? Consider their preferences:
Should you request the conversation by e-mail, voice mail, or face-to-face?
Is it best to meet early in the morning or over lunch? Monday or later in the week?
How will you open the conversation? Consider these guidelines:
Get to the point. Thank the person for his or her time and say you have a request to make.
Lay it out and be specific. What do you need? Advice? Feedback? A new challenge?
Step 3: Identify the Barriers—Then Bulldoze Them
Barriers to asking come in all shapes and sizes. Here are some of the most common:
Fear. Is fear in the way of asking? Fear of what? The answer? The person? Something else?
I remembered reading somewhere that I should 'face the fear and do it anyway.' I think the author meant if it's not life threatening. So, after a few sleepless nights and several rounds of practice with my friend, I just went for it. It wasn't nearly as frightening as I thought it would be. I got out of there with my life, and I'm optimistic about getting what I want.
It's simple. To get more of what you really want at work, face your fear, plan your approach, and go for it.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. —Mark Twain
Your boss's (or other decision makers') mind-sets, constraints, or concerns. Those you ask are often bound by rules, policies, guidelines, and cultural norms. And they're concerned about fairness.
I knew he'd be worried about my teammates and their reactions if he said yes to my request. I listed three ways I thought we could handle that concern. He came up with another. Together we dealt with the team in such a positive way that they were actually happy for me. They are also happy to have a boss whom they know will listen to them when they want something!
Anticipate the problems and potential barriers to your request and present ideas for solving them. Seek solutions that work for you, them, and the team.
Lack of WIIFT (what's in it for them?). Before you go to your request granter, stop and identify the WIIFT. Ask yourself, "What's in it for that person to grant my request? How will she benefit? Is my request a 'piece of cake' or really difficult to grant?" WIIFT in hand, now you're ready to ask.
I wanted to learn from her. I knew it was probably the last thing she'd want to do, meet with another grad student. She was so busy and rarely in the office. So, I offered three hours of research time in exchange for one hour of her time with me. She paused a minute and then said, "Yes, what a great idea."
Find the WIIFT and you'll increase the odds of getting a yes.
And If the Answer Is No?
Despite your careful planning and strategic thinking, you'll no doubt encounter a no now and then. Listen to the reasons for the no. Then:
ask again (in a different way or at a different time) —or—
ask how you can help make it work (brainstorm possibilities) —or—
ask someone else (can someone else help with your request?) —or—
ask what's possible, if not this —or—
ask when it might be possible, if not now —or—
ask what you can do to improve the way you're asking.
Don't give up.
The best advice I ever got was from a salesman. He said every no he received got him closer to the inevitable yes.
And when they say yes, thank them—with words and in continued great performance.
* * *
People tell us that in hindsight, they wish they had asked for what they wanted. Or they wish they'd asked in a more effective way, so a decision maker could have worked with them to make it happen. Asking is key to every chapter and central to the philosophy of this book. Don't expect others to take the first step. Don't make them guess, because most often, they'll guess wrong. Be clear. Be prepared. Be collaborative, and then ask for what you want. If you don't ask for what you want, you'll simply have to take what you get.
Buck Don't Pass It
Some people are tempted to hold others accountable for their work satisfaction. Most find over time that those others can't—or won't—deliver what's wanted and needed. Ultimately you choose your career, your boss, your team, your organization. You decide how long to stay, and you have the power and influence to improve your work. Accept that responsibility, complete with its challenges, and you'll get more of what you want from your work and your workplace.
If It's to Be, It's Up to Me
You may have heard that quote before. And you may even have found it annoying. Annoying, but true.
I pushed the snooze button again. It was Monday morning, and the last thing I wanted to do was get up and go to work. I drank another cup of coffee, dropped off the dry cleaning, and actually felt relieved about the traffic jam that delayed my arrival even more.
After months of feeling this way, I decided no one was going to do a thing about it—but me. My boss isn't the type to have a conversation with me about my career, and no one was offering me an exciting new opportunity.
One night I took my wife to dinner and told her I had to do something about my work. I had to leave or make it better. We spent the next three hours writing down all of my options and talking about several strategies.
I started researching some of those options the following week. I talked with my boss about doing more of the work I love and less of the work I dislike. I also talked about options with several colleagues and even a manager in another department. In all of that exploration, I found a colleague who actually loves to do what I hate! With my boss's help, we've redesigned both my colleague's job and mine. I still work in the same company, even for the same boss, but my day-to-day work has changed by 80 percent.
Get this. On a Sunday night, I actually felt excited about the workweek ahead. What a relief!
How have you taken charge lately?
I've carefully evaluated and listed (in detail) what I love about work and what I don't. (yes/no)
I've looked at my latest performance review and identified a step I could take to improve. (yes/no)
I've chatted with a sympathetic (smart) partner about work and what I want from it. (yes/no)
I've clearly evaluated my role in a workplace dilemma or dissatisfaction. (yes/no)
I've explored and then listed all of my options. (yes/no)
I've identified what is possible and what isn't, given this organization's culture, leadership, or rules. (yes/no)
I've taken a risk and
talked to people who might be able to help me (yes/no) —or— tried something new. (yes/no)
If you answered no to any of these, it's simple: Do it.
Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. —Will Rogers
Beware the Blame Game
When you point a finger, remember that three other fingers are pointing back at you.
It's so easy to blame. For most of us, the excuses and finger pointing are a knee-jerk reaction. It's a normal, human defense. But blaming seldom gets us what we really want and need.
It's called the Blame Game. You know, when you point the finger and say, "He did it. She did it. They did it." I was into that game big-time until a friend suggested I stop whining and take some accountability for my unhappy work situation. (Yes, friends will tell you the truth!) I realized that I was bored and had basically retired on the job. It wasn't all my fault, but it wasn't really all theirs, either. I talked to my boss about doing something new. He had no idea how bored I was and has helped me find new, more challenging work. I'm learning again and happy with my job.
* * *
This entire book is about taking responsibility for your own satisfaction. The "Buck" philosophy supports the messages in all other chapters. If you don't buy "B," you'll never get to "Z."
Yes, others have roles to play in your work success and happiness. But none have roles that equal yours. Ultimately, it's up to you to change what you don't like and to find what you really want at work.
CAREER Chart Your Course
Your career is your creation. So when was the last time you really gave serious thought and time to planning it? If you can't remember, is it because:
* You are too busy doing this job to think about the next?
* You don't know what you want to do next?
* You are waiting for your manager to make the first move?
* You think the future is too uncertain for career planning?
Too many people allow one or more of these thoughts to delay or even paralyze their actions. They wait. For certainty. For their bosses to provide career maps. For a revelation about the next step. For a "time-out" from the current work, to ponder the next. The truth is that only you can make the time and the decisions that put your career on the right course. The payoff? Greater work satisfaction.
I had done a great job here for twelve years. I knew that I'd be promoted eventually. I waited for the promotion and when it didn't come, I finally asked my boss about it. He said, "Sorry, but in addition to your work experience, that job now requires a special technical certificate." I had watched some colleagues taking those classes, but just didn't realize it was such a big deal. This past year I took the classes and earned the certificate. Recently I finally got that promotion. Now I've gone "public" with my career goals. I talk about them with my boss and am constantly looking for ways to attain them.
Whose Career Is It, Anyway?
You own your career. This attitude will help you get what you want from work. Take steps now to plan it, build it, and strengthen it. Here's how:
* Look at yourself—Examine your interests, values, and work skills. Find out, too, if others see you the way you see yourself.
* Look around—Uncover trends (company/industry), learning pathways (ways to learn new skills), and multiple career options.
* Look ahead—Identify goals, alliances, support. Create your plan.
Talk with colleagues, friends, and bosses. Identify and collaborate with people interested in helping you. Think about how you, in turn, can help them. Use them as sounding boards to test your ideas, career options, and assumptions.
Here's Lookin' at You
Assess. It's the critical first step in successfully managing your career.
Excerpted from LOVE IT DON'T LEAVE IT by BEVERLY KAYE SHARON JORDAN-EVANS Copyright © 2003 by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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