Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Importance of Determining Working Styles

When I was a student in college picking my classes I payed almost as much attention to who was teaching a class as I did to what the actual class was about. I wanted to know before enrolling what my chances were of getting a good grade. And even then, after enrolling and starting the class the first few weeks were all about figuring out what I needed to do to survive the course and (hopefully) bring home the A. What are the professor's expectations? How hard does he/she grade? How many tests and papers will there be? How strict or lenient are they regarding deadlines and punctuality?

Believe it or not, many people forget about these survival techniques after they enter the work force. But when you think about it, a big part of managing your career should be about figuring out how to work with those around you, especially your boss, in order to reach your desired level of success.  In this respect, you are learning how to do that in college just as much as you are learning the subject matter of your courses yet  many people don't realize this part of their education and how important it is. Everyone around us has a particular working style and learning what those are can be crucial to our success.

Considering the following example:

There is a 10:00am meeting every Friday at which department heads meet to report to the Regional Director. They are required to summarize their department's progress during the week that has just past and look ahead to their goals for the week ahead. Each department head gets 10 minutes and must present a clear and concise picture to the Regional Director.

Scott has been with the company for 18 month and has realized that the Regional Director routinely forgets what he said on Friday and often has to call on Monday and ask Scott about things he had just presented the Friday before. Not only does this frustrate Scott because it takes time away from the things he needed to accomplish Monday morning but it also makes him feel that his Friday presentations are inadequate no matter how well he prepared them.  At the same time, the Regional Director is frustrated at having to call Scott every Monday to ask questions about the things he felt Scott should be telling him. This became such an issue that it was brought up in Scott's yearly performance review and he became very discouraged.

Scott decided to spend some time thinking about ways to solve this problem and came up with three ideas:

  • Set up a meeting to speak with the Regional Director to confront him about all of the Friday presentations that are then asked about on Monday to prove that his Friday presentations are thorough and well prepared.
  • Try creating a PowerPoint slide and then handing out a one page synopsis of his Friday presentation that people could take away from the meetings and refer to later.
  • Complain to his coworkers about how frustrating it is to work with the Regional Director but don't really change the way he's handling the Friday presentations.
Which, if any, of the above should Scott do?

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