How to build your reliability reputation.

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

You probably don’t think much about it, but one of the pillars of a business is reliability. The concept of reliability comes in a variety of flavors, but the one I am going to focus on is the aspect of human reliability. Without reliability as an embraced concept in an organization by all members, the fundamentals of running the business simply will not  thrive.

I witnessed on a recent flight to Australia how the concept of reliability plays such a critical role. Since I had a sixteen hour flight, I had plenty of time to think about this concept, and to see it in action as the amazing Qantas flight crew worked in harmony together and relied upon each other to do their jobs. If you think about all of the elements associated with what it takes to get a large commercial plane off the ground, and the incredible amount of details which need to be executed to make this possible, this is a wonderful demonstration of reliability.

When people are doing their jobs well, and most jobs are reliant upon others to some degree, amazing things can happen. However, when people lose sight of how if they are not reliable in the work they are performing, it can have consequences they may not have thought about, and which will negatively impact others. This may seem incredibly basic from a common sense perspective, but more often than you think, you or your colleagues can lose sight of this concept.

So, how do you stay focused on being reliable, and what does this mean if you are considered to be a reliable team member? Staying focused is easier than you think, especially if you care about how the work you are performing and do well is going to help you and others in the future. One way to stay focused is to break up your work into segments of time, ideally no more than 45 minutes, as most people start to lose their ability to focus well past this point. Not all jobs will allow you to pause and take a short break, but if you are fortunate enough to be able to do this, your work outcome will be a higher quality, and you will have renewed energy for resuming the work. Your colleagues will also be impressed with the outcome of your work, and you will begin to build up your reputation for producing quality work, and more importantly be considered reliable.

A second way to remain focused on your work is to segment the type of work you are doing. An example of this is to think about doing email at the beginning, middle and end of the day versus constantly checking email all day long. If you have the type of work which requires you to be in meetings, plan your meetings when possible towards the beginning of the day, so you can leave yourself the remainder of the afternoon to accomplish the work assignments you are responsible for. A third way to approach remaining focused is to save the work you enjoy most for the end of the day. This way, you will have the work to look forward to, and you will have the energy to complete the work later in the day because it is the type of work you like to do, and this will give you a renewed sense of energy. Another trick to remaining focused on your work is to take mini walks around where you work, and to consider these walks as small rewards for accomplishing the task you were working on.

Being considered reliable is something you earn as a designation from your colleagues. When you earn the reputation of being reliable, and demonstrate to others you are this way, your entire team or the company you work for will benefit from this and amazing things begin to happen. Think about a time when you had to rely upon someone and they did not follow through. What did that feel like? Not desirable right, and it made you think twice about being able to rely upon that person the next time you needed to do so. Keep this concept of reliability in mind the next time you are tasked with the responsibility for doing anything related to your job. It helps to keep you focused on a much more positive outcome, and your colleagues will enjoy working with you more than you might imagine.

This blog is dedicated to Elfi at Qantas Airlines. Thanks for your inspiration.

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Dress for Success, not the “club”.

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

Yes, it may be a cliche that you should dress for success, or for the job you want to have, but I see on a daily basis that some people clearly never received this “memo”. Instead I see many people who show up at work looking like they are heading immediately to either the gym, back to bed, or perhaps a night club. With companies adopting a more “relaxed” dress code, people have taken it upon themselves to sometimes go beyond the line of what is actually an acceptable style of clothes to wear to work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about being comfortable with what I am wearing during work hours, but I also keep in mind I do not ever want to feel uncomfortable because the clothes I chose to wear are potentially too casual. 

I am not exaggerating when I tell you I have actually seen people come to work in what were literally their “sleeping clothes”, and I have also seen many people leaving the gym in the morning looking like they are working at a night club, but I’m almost positive they do not. So, if your company has a written work attire policy, my advice is to consider taking it up a notch in terms of what their dress code standards are. Why? Because as I mentioned earlier, it is far better to be perceived as being overdressed, and thought of as someone who knows how to dress at a level above the current role they may be in. Most people are visually oriented, so when they see someone who is dressed casually, they are assuming you might not have the credibility in your role based on the way you look. I understand this is a presumptive interpretation, but I have witnessed for years  how people are treated based on the way they are dressing in the office. 

Choosing the “right” professional clothing applies to both sexes, and to those who do not choose to identify with one sex or the other. An example I can share with you about how the perception people have of you based on your clothing can be best illustrated by a trade show my company was participating at. There were multiple people in our booth from our company, and all ages and both females and males were represented. Everyone in the booth except me was wearing a company shirt and jeans. Due to the fact I was meeting with the press and other business people, I chose to wear more “business oriented” clothing. When I was standing in the booth with my colleagues, people stopping by our booth automatically assumed I was the CEO of the company, and this absolutely had to do with what I was wearing. At the time, I was not actually the CEO, but the perception people had based on my clothes was that I was the head person at the company. 

After being witness to so many people seemingly not knowing what is appropriate “casual” office attire, I thought I would provide you with some quick tips to avoid making the mistake of dressing too casually.

  1. If you would wear the clothes to bed, then don’t wear them in the office.
  2. If you would wear the clothes to the gym, save them for your gym workouts. 
  3. There may in fact be clothes which can nicely transition to being worn at a night club, but if you have even the slightest hesitation about whether to wear the clothes you have selected, don’t wear them.
  4. You have a great sense of humor, or collect t-shirts which are representative of your political, cultural or religious viewpoints, but wear these on the weekend, and not to the office. 
  5. You love wearing form fitting clothing, but some of it rides the line of making others uncomfortable when you wear these type of clothes. This applies to both men and women, and ladies, let’s keep the showy cleavage tops at home. It makes both men and women uncomfortable when you expose too much cleavage, especially in a professional office setting. 

If you have not been graced with having good style sense, or are still perplexed by your office dress code when your office has one, ask one of your friends to help you out who you perceive to dress well. They will be flattered you asked them to help you. Additionally, you will also increase your chances of having others viewing you via a more positive professional perception when you “up-your-game”, and dress well in the office. Certainly it can be subjective in terms of what “dressing well” means, but doing so will surprise you from time to time with the positive comments others will make when they notice you are doing so. Give this a try, and let me know what happens. 

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Monday Morning Blues? Here’s a potential cure.

By Kathleen E. Murphy

I am certain there are many days you think work is such a hassle and that you would not consider it a privilege to have a job, or a career. However, if you have either of these you are lucky and keep this in mind on Sunday night, Monday morning, or any other day of the week you are dreading going to, or being at work. Why? Because chances are you obtained your job because of the fact you might have had the privilege of higher education, supportive parents, a roof over your head, food on the table each day, and which are things not everyone in the United States has.

Recently I was speaking to an incredible woman I admire in the life insurance industry. She reminded me about how privileged we are, and one of the classifications of being privileged is the fact we have a college education. Upon further discussing the concept of privilege, she asked me if I had seen the YouTube video on this topic.  I had not, and here’s a link to the video. As I was watching the video, it was absolutely eye opening to be reminded about how something as basic as not having to worry about where I will be sleeping tonight, or where my next meal is going to come from. A number of the people in the video had these concerns. However, if you fall into the “privilege category”, you have not likely had to give any thought to them on a regular basis. This does not mean we shouldn’t, it just means we do not understand or appreciate the struggles others have to go through simply to survive on a day to day basis, and yes, I’m talking about people in the United States.

How does this topic relate to your job? It does because there is something each one of us can do about helping others who may not have had, or will not have the same privileges we have taken for granted. Especially those who are preparing to enter into the workforce in 5-10 years. One way to do this is to set aside a few hours of your week to volunteer your time at a number of different places (e.g., The Boys & Girls Clubs in your city, Habitat for Humanity, tutoring at the middle and high school levels, working with local social workers to spend time with kids who are in foster care or transitional homes, volunteering your time to coach a sports team or be involved with an after-school program) as a few examples. The emphasis is on kids between the ages of 12-18, as these are the ages when kids need all the support they can get. Providing them with your support will allow them to potentially not have to be subjected to aspects of denying them privileges you can easily bestow upon them with your time, and teaching them how to gain privileges they would not otherwise know how to obtain (e.g., how to apply for college scholarships).

Many companies I talk to are looking for ways to further engage their employees either during the work day, or prior to or after work. Some companies allow their employees to have these volunteer hours count as “work” hours, even if they are a salaried employee. By allowing employees to volunteer their time during work hours, there are multiple parties who benefit from this arrangement. The top ones are the employer, the employee and the recipient(s) who are receiving the donated time towards helping them with their life. This may seem elementary as a concept, but it’s not, and it is one small way to help to offset the privilege gap.

So, the next time you catch yourself complaining about your life, your job or about how hard everything is, think back to the YouTube video you just watched. This video and the concept of how privilege is something more people can have if we all do our part in first recognizing the issue, and then taking action to do something about it.  Everyone deserves a chance in having a better life, and those who have had the fortune of privilege can make a difference in the lives of those who do not. Think about this the next time you are looking for a cure for your Monday morning blues.

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

 

 

Are you “that guy/girl” in the office?

By Kathleen E. Murphy

Regardless of how many years you have been working, undoubtedly you have encountered both spectrums of people you enjoy working with, and those who you would rather hit the “eject” button on… if there was one. Fortunately, most people fall into the mid-range of being good to work with, but what if you are one of the “complicated/messy” people everyone dreads working with, or if you are trying to avoid hiring someone like this?

Most people do their best to avoid bringing drama into the workplace, but some people either do not realize they are doing this, or simply can’t help themselves. Sometimes it might be a phase the person is going through which makes it seem like every day is filled with unnecessary drama being brought by them into the workplace. Generally, if you take the time to ask them if they are OK, and if they realize their outside life it impacting their work, they are often not aware of this. When you point this out to them, they will either be embarrassed or grateful for the fact you are acknowledging their outside world having a negative impact on their professional environment. Asking them if there is anything you can do to help them is the right thing to do, even if you do not think you can fully support them. However, having your emotional support will sometimes be enough and exactly what they need.

Even if you are not in a hiring capacity, chances are you would want to figure out how to deal with someone who is “complicated”. Better yet, you probably want to make your working experience far more gratifying, especially if you are dealing with “complicated” people. The best approach when dealing with these type of people is to ask them a few questions. Here is what I recommend:

  • How would you rate your daily interaction satisfaction rate with your colleagues on a scale of (1-5), 5 being the highest?
  • What is the best part of your day, and coffee breaks, lunch and leaving the office can’t be one of your answers.
  • If money did not matter, what would be your ideal job?
  • Who do you admire professionally, and why?

The answers to these questions will allow you to have an open dialogue with the person about whether they are happy. If they are clearly not happy, encouraging them to think about what they need to do to make working with the people they are working with more enjoyable is a good place to start. If you do not manage the person you are having the conversation with, being empathetic to their situation could be the catalyst to turn their “complicated/messy” attitude around. However, if you do manage the person who is having difficultly working with either one or more people on the team, encourage them to find ways that can make the work encounters they are having less drama filled or less combative. If they are not aware of their behavior, pointing this out to them, or what I call “showing them the mirror of how they are perceived by others”, has had a dramatic impact on people numerous times I have had this conversation.

If you are in a hiring position and are building your “dream team”, here are some questions you can ask to make sure you seek and find the people who you will not regret hiring.

Questions to ask to avoid hiring “that” person, or answering to find out if you are “that” person:

  • How important are celebrating your colleague’s birthdays to you on a scale of (1-5), 5 being the highest rating.
  • Tell me about your most recent social service experience in helping others. When was it, and what was the best part of the experience?
  • What kinds of teams were you on growing up? This can include being in a band, on the debate team, in a choir or the drama club and not just sports teams. NOTE: If they were not on any teams, this might indicate they have limited experience with collaborative experiences.
  • What is an example of an experience you are most proud of accomplishing?
  • Tell me about things that motivate you to be kind to others.
  • Have you ever had a service job (e.g., bartending, waiting tables, camp counselor)? NOTE: I have generally only hired people who say “yes” to this question, as it demonstrates they know how to serve the needs of others first, and interact well with people.
  • What is one or a couple of things you are passionate about? NOTE: They do not have to be work related.
  • On a scale of 1-5, how important is it for people to get along? Five is the highest rating.
  • When you walk into a room, how would others know you have arrived?

Since most people will be working for a large majority of their lives, it is imperative to have strategies in place for finding the right people and companies to work with and for. Life is too short to work with too many of “that person”. Do you agree?

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.