William Boswell: Remember the "Small Stuff" (3987 hits)
It would be a great testimony if the overall employee evaluation process used by organizations were completely objective. However, regardless of how objective the process may appear, some subjectivity is inevitable. Because of the subjectivity likely to enter the evaluation and promotional process, your job performance may not be the only factor that affects your success. Your success could be impacted by what is often referred to as “Small Stuff.”
Remember, organizations are made up of and affected by individuals with the same basic idiosyncrasies we face in our society. After spending your college career anticipating, preparing, and planning your professional career, it would be unfortunate to allow it to be negatively impacted by the “small stuff. ” Recognize that you alone have the power to manage these small, but important details. Some of the items that fall within this category are often viewed as insignificant but they could be the deciding factors in determining some of your promotional opportunities. Six points to remember as you prepare for and begin your career are:
Respond to Messages Promptly
It is important to respond to messages promptly and professionally regardless of whether received by telephone, electronically, or as formal letters. A prompt response is critical if only to acknowledge receipt and indicate that a more complete response will be forthcoming. A lack of response or a delayed response sends a message that the topic and the sender are unimportant.
Keep Appointments and Be Timely
It is important to not only keep appointments but to ensure they are met on a timely basis. Either missing an appointment or being late for an appointment communicates to the other participants that either they or the subject matter is not a priority. Additionally, it implies that their time is not valuable.
Avoid Controversial Subjects
It is always better and surely more pragmatic to avoid discussions in the workplace of controversial issues such as religion, politics, and other social issues. Most individuals have strong convictions and often uniquely different opinions on these subjects. Remember, when discussing controversial issues, there are no winners. Since they are not work related, resolution is impossible, controversy is assured, and alienation is inevitable; it is best to avoid these discussions.
Practice Effective Communication Techniques
Recognize that practicing effective communication techniques is quite necessary.
• Eye Contact – During conversations, maintain eye contact with your communication partner. Eye contact is acceptable as anywhere in the nose eye triangle.
• Body Space – Recognize that during personal contact you should always allow a minimum of eighteen to twenty inches of personal space around the entire body of your communication partner.
• Handshake – During a handshake, always maintain eye contact and offer a firm grip. It is an effective way to begin a dialogue.
Speak In a Professional Manner/ Principled Way
Speech reflects who you are, your professionalism, and your integrity. There are times and places for releasing your complete arsenal of different expressions, actions, and theatrics. However, your place of employment is not that place. Maintaining professionalism at all times, regardless of the circumstances, is essential.
Respect the Individual
It is important to allow every individual to maintain dignity at all times. For this reason, avoid attacks against the person. Always argue issues and avoid injecting personal indictments. Allow room for the other party to escape and save face in the process.
While some of the items identified as “Small Stuff” may appear to be insignificant, unimportant, or irrelevant, they can be factors that prevent you from getting that important promotion. However, the most significant factor is that you have the power to effectively manage each of these items and gain a decidedly advantage over your peers.
William E. Boswell is a former senior executive of BP America and the Internal Revenue Service. He has over thirty-five years of management experience guiding small, large, and diverse teams. He spent 30 years working for BP America and affiliated and successor companies in the U.S. and abroad, retiring as senior vice president in Cleveland, Ohio in 1999. He then accepted a special appointment as Director, Agency Wide Shared Services of the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C. for 4 years. His responsibilities at IRS included managing personnel, overseeing buildings, and supervising security for the agency. He was serving in that role during the September 11, 2001 attack. He retired in 2003.