A Winning Strategy … for 2017

Career DevelopmentI believe that it is wise to access your career situation at the beginning of every year. The primary rationale for this is to develop what is called a SWOT analysis. This acronym means a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats analysis.

One aspect of this analysis is to figure out how to have or develop the best possible relationship with your team leader. This is a critical and important move. Rightly or wrongly, your team leader is influential in your opportunities for upward mobility and increased income. It is important for you to figure out how to have the best possible relationship with your team leader because that relationship can lead to a smooth or “bumpy” road. In a nutshell, a good relationship can lead to your next career move or make your current situation very difficult. That difficulty manifests as decreased motivation and weakened emotional well-being that negatively affects your performance.

Vivian Scott, author of Conflict Resolution at Work for Dummies, says that the trick to taking control of your career is to do everything possible to create a positive work climate.  One factor is to understand the motivation behind your team leader’s behavior. Once you have a read on that behavior, you can refine or develop techniques to effectively manage the relationship.

Here are some of the characteristics that must be managed:

Ambiguity – Some team leaders may unwittingly fail to make their desires or requirements clear. This behavior is often called “cagey.” Therefore, you should attempt to get details to the maximum extent possible. These details should include their view of success, quantified goals, profit, unit targets and deadlines. Don’t be reluctant to “check-in” to ensure that you are still on track.

The “Micro-manager” – They are usually very motivated and concerned about their own reputations. You will not be able to change that behavior. But, you may be able to volunteer for some cross-functional teams so you can work with other leaders or offer your expertise in an area that may be helpful to your team leader. Hopefully, the offer will be recognized as a benefit. You could ask to establish specific review points that will increase the comfort and security of your team leader.

Bullying – If your team leader displays this behavior, your work environment will drain the pleasure and satisfaction from your work. The first remedy is to ensure that you are performing your tasks well and that can be endorsed by others. Try to isolate what they value and take action. For example, they may prefer to get bad news earlier rather than later. Try to help them by offering a few options and come to an agreement on the desired option. It is also possible the team leader may just be over-stressed and not realize how the reaction is coming across.

Narcissism – With some team leaders, it’s all about them. Working with a narcissist is frustrating, but they are actually easy to identify and figure out. Simply stated, present everything from their perspective. For example, suggest that the new procedure will save them time or increase their annual performance. If suggestions do not work, simply ask how you can help them do their job better. In other words, you can use the team leader’s vanity to your advantage. You will be viewed as a more valuable team member and will be helped to perform well.

The Friend – Being friends with your team leader is not a bad thing. The more your team leader likes being around you, the more likely they are to want you as a team member as they move up the organization. However, you should make every effort to avoid personal gossip. You don’t want to be used as a spy on other team members. This could be a double edged sword. If other team members are being discussed, you are being discussed too. Try to determine if the team leader simply wants to be liked. But, if you suspect spying or back-stabbing, beware. Try to keep topics as benign as possible.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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