When It’s A Crazy Day, Roll With It!

Yesterday was one of those days, and not just for me, but for other members of my team at work.

I left home at the usual time; planning to get to work at 7:30a.m. even though I officially start at 8:00a.m. As I live 95 kilometres from work, that extra half hour is my safety buffer. In other words, anticipating any unexpected delays, I’ll still get to work on time and never put myself in the position of using distance (my choice) as an excuse for arriving late.

I opted on this one day to travel south down highway 115 all the way to Highway 401 and then drive east into Oshawa Ontario. That trip along the 401 is the route taken by commuters heading into the Greater Toronto Area, and it typically slows down just after I exit in Oshawa. Funny thing is, I don’t often go this way; and as it turns out I really shouldn’t have gone this way yesterday. I arrived 10 minutes late; 40 minutes later than my typical arrival time mind you, but only the 10 minutes because of my pattern of arriving 30 minutes early every day just in case.

Then the fun really started. On my team of 13 (including a Supervisor and Team Clerk), 4 of my Employment Counsellor colleagues were not reporting in. That’s a first; about 1/3 of the team. So you guessed it; what I thought I was doing on a Monday morning was out the window and I was called upon to facilitate a workshop with a group of young adults. I’d never done this particular workshop before, but years of facilitating upon which to fall back on had me feeling confident.

It wasn’t always this way though; not by a long shot. Many years ago when I was fairly fresh on the scene, a big change first thing in the day would have been something I’d have balked at. Becoming more flexible and having a ‘team-first’ attitude is something I developed like any other skill. Yesterday that growth and development eased any anxiety with the change in plans. After all, I realized quickly it wouldn’t just be me that was being affected but others on my team as well.

Just as I’m getting ready to begin, a colleague needed my help getting a presentation to launch using an overhead projector. Late last week our IT department was downloading an update of Office 365; could that be the reason for the situation? Anyhow it took 10 minutes to help out there and back I went.

Now really, I’ve got little to complain about. In the grand scheme of things many people have far worse days than I. And there lies the lesson; see the big picture.  It’s not always easy to do mind; in the moment when you first hear news that’s going to change your schedule, it’s easy to immediately think about your own situation and be trapped in the moment at hand. The real key to successfully transitioning from what you had planned to what you’re going to now do is to think macro; see the big picture.

I mean, I’m still getting paid, the minutes and hours will pass, everyone will survive and the missing staff will return the following day (hopefully) and life will go on. Big deal. Adapt. Stretch yourself Kelly. It’ll be good for your growth.

Here’s the thing when you get thrown curveballs; you know in the end you’ll be doing whatever it is your being asked or told to do by your Supervisor. The quicker you get on board with the news, the more time you have to prepare; and time to prepare is precisely what you’re anxious about. So accepting quickly and turning to the job at hand is the best way to succeed. It’s also being a good team member and colleague. But we don’t all deal with change – change that upsets our plans that is – well.

Today is going to be interesting. You see I’m now in another city altogether – Kingston Ontario at an Employment Forum, along with some of my colleagues. The ones who were off yesterday can’t count on four of us today, so if they call in absent, either programs get cancelled or other staff on other teams would have to pitch in as possible. Now that would be very disrupting to their days!

It’s funny how a day later, the angst of yesterday pales with the rising sun of today. Not such a big deal. Even as I write about it, I think readers like you will think it wasn’t a big deal in the first place. In the moment though, for some it can be. Ever heard of the saying, ‘This too shall pass’? No matter what is happening at any one moment that has you worried, you’ll survive it; it will pass into yesterday, last week, last month etc. and diminish with each new experience you meet.

Well, the day ended beautifully; a nice dinner for the first time with colleagues, a good night sitting around a fire with an Orange Pekoe in hand, and good conversation to boot. After a sound sleep I’m ready for the day ahead and looking forward to learning whatever I can from our Employment Forum. Sure hope there’s new and tangible things to take back and implement.

Right now however, it’s time to suit up and hit the pool for an early morning dip before breakfast. Yippee!

So Was It A Poor Or Good Use Of Staff Time?

Lest you think I don’t know the answer to the question above, I do; the time was well spend and I’d do it again exactly the same way.

So here was the situation yesterday at work. It was day 1 using a new computer system. There were additional staff in the workplace to help everyone adjust to the new technology, and there were some fun things going on to keep the mood positive when problems arose.

Of course from a clients point of view, the world doesn’t stop just because Social Service’s Staff have something new at their workplace. So the schedule called for myself and one of my colleagues to run workshop on interview skills. As it turns out, only two people turned up for the workshop; a workshop that typically would run from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Now I’ve run this workshop many times, but the colleague of whom I speak has never done so. Given an opportunity to share how he’d like to proceed before we knew our numbers for the day, he opted to have me run the workshop and observe more than truly co-facilitate. With only two people attending, he first asked if we shouldn’t just take one each and work 1:1 with them. Then when I nixed that idea, he wondered if he shouldn’t skip it altogether and do something else for the day. After all, there’s only two people and I can comfortably handle a full class of up to 25 in that workshop should those numbers appear.

If you look at this day in isolation he’s correct. The salary of two staff working with two clients is a poor trade-off. However, factor in that this fellow has never ran the workshop before, doesn’t know the material covered etc. and it’s a different equation. So I ran the regular workshop and had the consent of both participants to do so. After all, in my opinion, aren’t the two who showed up entitled to our very best?

You see the way I look at things, I had two objectives for the day and three ‘students’. Objective one was to give each of the two participants all the help I could to better their interview skills through instruction and practice. But my second objective was to teach my colleague how to run the workshop; what’s covered, what’s handed out, what multi-media do I use etc. and experience it so he can then run it independently in the future and still cover the core content.

I was quite pleased with how the day played out. My colleague and teammate injected his own experiences and ideas throughout the day from time to time. And when it did come time to do a mock interview, it was his idea to have each of them interviewed by each of us one on one and then switch and do it again.

What I found most pleasing and satisfying is that when the workshop concluded, one of the two participants said, “Well I’ve got to tell you I’m impressed; quite impressed really.” And he was genuine. I think he got more out of that day than he ever expected. The other participant realized she needed to work on her stories; the examples she would draw upon during an interview to prove her stated skills and experience.

Now you’ve got to realize that voluntarily showing up for a day getting help with interview skills is not something a lot of people would do. As many people don’t enjoy interviews in the first place, why would they come by choice? So with only two people, I admire them even more because during the day, it’s not like they have anywhere in which to hide amongst a room full of people. Every time I’d ask for input, there would only be two of them to answer. Some other people would have walked out right off the bat if they were one of only two people there. But these two stayed and instead of leaving at 2:30 p.m., they stayed an additional 20 minutes because they wanted to and asked for more.

And here’s another thing I liked about the two of them. Given the option of an hour lunch or a half hour lunch, guess what they chose? 30 minutes. So while my colleague opted to take his full hour lunch, the two of them and myself reconvened after half an hour and resumed the session, with him joining us later. And that worked out well, because both him and them got what they needed over that period.

From a mentoring perspective, I really hope that my colleague got everything out of the day he needs to run this workshop competently and independently. He’s got experiences and skills accumulated from his past employment and volunteer background. He’s welcome as is every member of our team, to add to and delete some content in the workshop as long as the overall integrity and goals of the workshop are covered. The benefit is that he now knows what I personally do in the workshop. He’ll take what will work for him and add things that he’d like to incorporate to truly make the workshop his own. That’s expected.

Was it a good use of time to have us both there? I think so and so too does our mutual supervisor. He just became more valuable and the overall team stronger.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find Out What It Means

Okay so how many of you read the title of the blog and how many of you sang the title of the blog in Aretha Franklin style? If you did sing it, I bet you added the words, “to me” at the end of it. Notice however that I stopped short of adding those two words. Why? Well because it’s not important you find out what respect means to me, but rather you find out what it means for yourself.

Is respect something that is automatically given or is it something earned? Is it initially given until lost? You may find that your answer to these questions puts you in agreement or conflict when you interact with other people who either hold your view or take a differing perspective.

Respect is an acknowledgement of what is rather than what could be, and an acceptance of that. So you may well disagree with someone else’s point of view, but you can still respect the person. You can appreciate for example how they conduct themselves, how they argue their point with passion and conviction, but ultimately you don’t have to agree with them in order to respect them. One of the most common examples of this in action would be hearing politicians debate issues in parliament. Well, sometimes there’s not a lot of respect shown for each other come to think of it!

Respect is also something you can have for other people, rules, things, property and most importantly yourself. As for property, you may for example be taking a walk around the neighbourhood and notice that the sidewalk goes along the front of a home then makes a 90 degree turn and runs down the other side of the home. Do you follow the sidewalk or cut across the lawn of the homeowner because it’s the shortest route? If you do, you’re not respecting the property of the people who live there as you wear down a path which may cause them to erect a fence to discourage people from following your lead.

In a game, there are rules established so all the players know in advance the conditions they will play under. Break those rules, and you may be penalized in some fashion. This is true too if you have a dress code at work and don’t follow it. You might find yourself being told to leave and return when your clothing adheres to the rules.

But of all the things you can respect in your lifetime, the single most thing you should have respect for is yourself. And so it is unfortunate when someone presents with such low self-esteem that they have no self-respect. I’ve run across people like this; people who don’t see themselves as people of value. And without seeing themselves as a person of value, they consciously allow themselves to be used by others in ways that only reinforces in their own mind that they aren’t worth much.

Such lack of respect for themselves can be very self-destructive, and what’s equally worse is their own aspirations and confidence are low. When they engage in activities where success isn’t guaranteed, they assume from the start that they will fail; fail because it is after all – them. And they feel they don’t deserve to succeed. What a very sad sense of self-perception and lack of self-respect.

Am I describing you or someone you know or work with? If I am, you know how difficult it is to bring about change and learn to respect yourself. It isn’t as easy as just waking up one day and saying to yourself, “I guess I’ll respect myself today.” If this has been ingrained in the person over years, it takes some time to learn how to respect oneself, and to believe that you are really worthy.

So how to start? Start small. Little things for some are huge for others. Think about personal grooming you do daily. When you wake up do you shower or clean yourself? Brushing your teeth and hair, washing your face, putting on clean clothes; these are things that show you have respect for your appearance, even when you aren’t going out and don’t anticipate seeing anyone or having anyone see you. This isn’t about being pretty or handsome, good-looking etc., this is about personal hygiene and in the case of your teeth, it also preserves your oral health.

In the workplace, you often have to have respect for people in other roles, such as your boss. By acknowledging their role as your supervisor, you demonstrate respect for them when you hand in reports requested and in the timeframe given you, or by taking their direction and carrying out assigned tasks. If you are chronically late, take extended breaks, leave early without permission and spend your time doing personal things on the computer, you don’t demonstrate respect for company property and for the job you have. Eventually, this lack of respect could cost you your job.

You are a person of worth and a person to be valued. Whether you have to earn respect from others or find they respect you right from the beginning, I hope more than anything you come to respect yourself. And respect yourself not for what you accomplish necessarily, but just for being you. Yep, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means…

How Do You React When You Hold A Different Opinion?

In our daily lives, whether it’s at work, at home or out socially, we are bound to hold different views on daily events than others around us, and I’d suggest that having different views is very healthy. But when you have a different view than someone else, how you react and what you communicate while at work is important for you to understand; especially the impact of your reaction on others.

Now first of all, it depends what you think different about. So if you are discussing the merits of a certain colour of highlighter for your notes, your preference differing from someone else’s is really not all that big an issue. The ramifications just aren’t that significant and therefore once you say you like yellow because of its brightness instead of blue because it’s harder to see the text, you’re pretty much done. But what if you differing opinion is about something much more meaningful with wider ramifications?

It’s always best to slow yourself down when being in a discussion that is leading to some decision, especially if you see that decision having a direct impact on something you care about. Think objectively about the choices you have, consider whether the topic is one you feel is something that you really have to fight for, and see if there is some merit in the views of others before taking an all or nothing position.

Sometimes what happens is that we hold a view of our co-workers and we might see them as idealistic, cowardly, aggressive, lax, emotional, practical etc. This may be based largely on past performance and discussions we’ve had, or having seen them make past decisions that did or didn’t work out. Or on the other hand, we may base our views on feelings, intuition, first impressions etc. which are less reliable. So when at a meeting where some discussion is taking place, it’s vital to separate our personal views of the person from the ideas and opinions that person is expressing. Failing to do this can result in not even listening to the person, but rather jumping to the defense of our own views prematurely.

When you listen to others, not only might you realize that despite past performance, this time somebody actually has a view that has validity, you might save yourself from interrupting the other person and making yourself look poor by shutting the other person down. The result of such behaviour is that someone else’s idea gets more attention, the other person gets sympathy, and you brand yourself as someone who is quick to speak and could benefit from actually taking a moment to think about what has just been said.

When you differ in opinion, it’s always a good idea to vocalize your difference with the opinion but base your rebuttal on facts, experience and quickly move to talking more about the merits in another course of action rather than dwelling too long on the pitfalls of someone elses point of view. Those that play smart in the sandbox also will support the person perhaps in some other idea or point of view that is less divisive from their own view or one in fact they agree entirely with.

Differing views often help groups come to more meaningful conversation. They allow groups the benefit of then having to examine differing views, find merit in each, and then come to a consensus at some point, which is often a merger or combination of two or more viewpoints. The best decisions coming out of groups are often in fact, ones that several people have some input into in order to get group buy-in. Then when the time to talk is over and the time to act begins, more people are on board. The worst thing you could possibly do is strongly voice your differing opinion, refuse to let go of your position, and then go out of your way to sabotage the action plan the group has come up with. This brands you as someone who can’t be a part of any plan that isn’t their own.

The most interesting thing sometimes happens thereafter where what you failed to see in a meeting, when later put into action, becomes something that you then understand, and you realize your opinion while still valid, might have if adopted by the group, led to a less than satisfactory conclusion. In other words, if many others are behind someone else’s ideas and you aren’t, might they see something in it that you yourself fail to see?

We all should be encouraged in my opinion to hold our own views and express them without fear of being shut down and silenced. However, this is largely affected by the situation in which we find ourselves and the subject over which we are together. If a fire alarm goes off at work, it would hardly be proper to gauge everyone’s opinion and discuss whether to evacuate or not. Somethings we just do because that’s the agreed upon procedure and while we might personally think going outside is a waste of time and inconvenient in the rain or cold weather, we do it nonetheless because the consequences of being wrong even once are extreme.

Again, when you differ in opinion from others, back up your view with as much information based on facts and experience. Separate your views of the person you differ with the person themself. And by all means, every now and then give in graciously on some things in order to get a little on things that matter more to you.

“I Bet Tom Won’t Be In Today”

Do you have someone in your organization you work with that you just know won’t make it in on bad weather days? Or if there’s a project or assignment that they’ve made clear they have little buy-in and commitment to, you can assume they will be ill on that day? Are you right more than you are wrong?

Hmmmm….While this game of, “let’s guess who won’t be in today” isn’t really a healthy game for co-workers to play as it undermines confidence in each other, it does speak to patterns of behaviour which our co-workers notice and have picked up that doesn’t do much to enhance the image of the person being discussed.

Being part of a team; be it on the factory assembly line, the office or the sales group in a retail operation, comes with responsibilities to pull your weight and be counted on to do your job. So what happens when you aren’t present? Well the first thing of course is you’ve got a responsibility to notify your Supervisor or their delegated person to advise them of your absence. Most employers want you to contact them and speak with them directly – not their answering machine. The reason for this is so you are accountable, and they may need to ask you a few things like what your agenda was for the day and any special instructions you need to pass on to someone who will cover your work.

The ripple effect that your call sets off goes something like this: the Boss gets the call and has to divert energy and time determining how best to cover your responsibilities with the least disruption to the rest of the employees. At least one other employee, and often several, now must adjust their planned activity for the day to account for your absence. This might mean anything from having no replacement and have to do their own work plus yours, doing your work entirely at the expense of theirs, or getting together a group of people to take smaller chunks of what you had to do that day and divide up your work.

While everybody is generally away the odd time, let’s face the fact that there are some people who take more time than others and it isn’t always legitimate illness or factors beyond their control. I myself worked with a woman once who I could pretty much tell wouldn’t be in to work when snow flurries were called for the day before. Sure enough, roads would be bare, snowflakes would be falling beautifully and she’d have called in absent.

The adverse impact this can have on co-workers may not be something that you’re all that concerned about if you really aren’t a team player. You may also see your job as something you do for money and because you’re not there to make friends, it doesn’t concern you in the least if you aren’t popular. However, you may find over time that when others feel you can’t be counted on with respect to your attendance and punctuality, that this mistrust expands to other areas too – and these other areas may be of deep interest to you. That’s when you might say to yourself that things are unfair and see things as two separate issues, but your co-workers see as entirely related and your on the outs.

Now if you truly find weather conditions and your level of confidence as a driver for example to be life-threatening, then by all means no one would expect you to attempt the drive in. Is there another way however for you to still get to work such as hitching a ride with a more confident driver or public transit? In other words, seeing the weather and driving conditions as a problem, use your problem-solving skills to come up with a solution that doesn’t involve packing in the entire day.

You know I also worked many years ago with someone who had a four-day work week while the rest of us worked five days a week. Oh it wasn’t official of course, but we all knew that once the summer started, this person’s attendance on Fridays or Mondays would fall off almost consistently to the point where we could predict it. And the impact on our group was that the rest of us planned things a little lighter on those two days in the event that we had to cover this person’s work. After all, rather than scrambling to cancel our own appointments, why not just make fewer of them or schedule them for the p.m. instead of the a.m. which would buy us time to contact our clients?

While some sit at home sipping their cocoa or pleasantly sleeping in and then after a leisurely breakfast move to the couch to do some serious recreational reading and don’t give what goes on in the workplace a second thought or care, I believe there are others who do care about the impact their absence has on other employees and make all efforts to come in. When these people are away from work, their co-workers are only to happy to pitch-in and cover because it doesn’t happen frequently, and those away cover for them when the situation is reversed.

If you are at all concerned about getting ahead, being appreciated at work, building a positive reputation, and truly being a team player, do your very best to live up to the expectations that your job description details. Hold yourself to a high personal standard of ethical behaviour.

Oh but if you’re really ill….stay home! Nobody wants to get what you’ve got to share!

How To Annoy Your Employer And Kill Advancement

You’d think that all employees would want to act in ways that both demonstrate appreciation to their employer and at the same time advance their own careers. However, the truth is that many employees engage in behaviours that actually annoy their employer and eliminate any chance of advancement and promotion. What’s the long-term effect of this self-limiting pattern? Eventually resentment sets in on both sides and a strained relationship develops.

1. Sign up for training and then don’t attend.

Training costs a company money and ensures employees have the most up-to-date skills and knowledge. It also means that all the staff are working with the same skill set, come from the same shared beliefs the company wants to work from. So it’s strange but true when employees sign up to take some mandatory training and then as their co-workers predict, they are absent.

2. Show up late for meetings.

So you’re part of a team and time after time you all know that one of your co-workers will consistently wait for a personal invitation from the Boss to come to the monthly meeting. All this does is delay the start, and if you’re unlucky it might mean all the rest of your day is pushed back causing undue pressure to somehow get back on schedule.

3. Work at half speed.

Oh sure you can walk fast and talk fast, but when it comes to actual work, you’ll find there are some people – thankfully few – who actually get very little done. These people will do just the bare minimum to keep their present job, so they can defend their productivity.

4. Gossip on the job.

Talking about others in a seemingly harmless way, some employees are masters at getting their co-workers to share in gossip which can be very harmful. However, the real masterful behaviour these people have cultivated is the ability to innocently start the gossip and then withdraw, leaving others to take the blame for gossiping and they themselves are nowhere to be found let alone reprimanded.

5. Pass on teamwork.

Every organization tends to have this kind of person. This is the woman or man who is a team member by name only, but when you stop and really examine things you realize that they do next to nothing but show up. There is no collaboration, very little input, and when counted on, they don’t produce; but when others look at the membership list, their name is prominently displayed with all the others as an active member.

7. See yourself as the center of the universe.

Know somebody who always seems to put their own needs before anyone else’s? This person only pitches in if they perceive there is some self-promoting to be done, a chance to look good, or they feel like it. You’ll notice though that when other staff are in a pinch, they won’t give you 10 minutes of their lunch break, or multi-task. If there is nothing to be gained, why put forth the effort?

8. Sign up for conferences then do your own thing.

Maybe a few times a year or so you’ll find people who sign up for a conference, the employer pays for the travel, hotel, food and registration, and then the employee misses some of the sessions they signed up for, leaves right after breakfast on the last day, and asks co-workers for copies of any handouts so it appears they attended all the sessions. They were a social superstar at the conference and a Good-Time Charlie, but actually did next to nothing productive.

9. Misrepresent yourself.

In your workplace you might know of those who lack the skills and abilities to perform their jobs causing others to wonder aloud, “How on earth did you get hired in the first place?” These are people who said they had certain skills and abilities, and planned right from the start on just expecting to pick things up as they go along, copying the work of others, and faking it until they gain the skills. Once discovered, they hope to argue their worth, such as in saying they have a diploma when they don’t and later counting on the employer not really caring as long as they can do the job.

10. Take all your breaks and lunch/dinner right to the minute.

These people don’t give anything to the employer that isn’t called for in their contract. If they get two fifteen minute breaks and an hour for lunch or dinner, they’ll take every last second because after all, they aren’t getting paid are they? Then at the last second they return to work.

11. Walk in when you should be starting.

Perhaps most common of all is the employee who starts getting paid at 9:00a.m. and at 9:00a.m. you can hear them coming down the hall, but they aren’t actually at their desk. Once they hang up their coat, turn on their computer and settle in, they immediately decide a nice coffee is in order, and they finally actually get down to work at 9:18a.m. daily.

There are all kinds of behaviour’s that are non-productive, self-destructive and self-limiting. Ironically, these may very likeable people who are popular and friendly but march to their own beat. In the end, they grow resentful of a company that won’t advance them in their career when they want to be promoted, and may develop disdain for the very company they work for. Best not to emulate any of the behaviour described above. It’s just good job advice!

Knowing Your Role On The Team

On any team, whether it’s a professional sports team, a team of construction contractors, a team in a factory, or an office team, there will always be the same group dynamics. Someone will inevitably either be assigned or take on the role of leader. Does that automatically relegate everyone else to the role of follower? Of course not.

If you were to observe a groups interaction with each other, or indeed if you think back to your own experience when working with others, you will see that there are other roles that people assume. There is the Peacmaker for example; the person that tends to get two opposing people or sides to see commonalities, areas of shared opinions, and they diffuse hostility and are usually the person to suggest a break, a time out, a cooling off period. They have a usual role to play that reminds the rest of the team that there is a greater good to working productively with each other.

You’ll also find the Negotiator. This person is skilled at discerning areas where there is give and take, and gets the group past barriers that threaten to derail progress. A good Negotiator can get both sides to feel that what they have achieved outweighs what they may have given up.

There’s the Thinker. You know this person probably the least unless you are tuned in. This person is the one who tends to hold on to their thoughts without expressing them to the rest of the group until discussions have been underway for some time. This allows them to have a unique perspective, In their mind, they are weighing information, sorting out what is posturing, what is relevant, what is essential, what is desired and what is workable. While they don’t talk a great deal in a group, when they do, others are usually smart enough, (or surprised enough) to stop talking themselves and consider what has been shared.

The Researcher is a person who comes to the table with factual evidence, reports, summaries and data that the group could benefit from knowing in terms of making informed decisions. While they may not necessarily be advocating a course of action, they supply the raw input that the group needs in order to move forward with confidence.

The Socializer is the person who provides the icebreaker games, the plans for lunch, the chit-chat that occurs from time to time that can act as a stress release for the group so things don’t become overly bogged down with strong emotional reactions. They bring perspective to the group, reminding everyone that there are other things going on outside the group that are important.

The Taskmaster is the person who keeps the group focused on the job at hand. They usually position themself in front of the clock, agenda in front of them, allocating so many minutes to a topic or discussion and serve to warn the group when they are off topic for too long, or in danger of not ticking off all the items to be discussed.

There is the Delegator, who assigns roles to everyone or see’s that people volunteer to take on roles before the group breaks up. They are most determined to make sure that when the group meets in the future, everyone will have a firm grasp on who was to do what.

Sometimes, there’s even the Freeloader. This person usually flies under the radar for a long time. They sit in the group, comment here and there, appear interested and involved, but when you look back, they often have little accountability on a personal level, their input is marginal, and they can find themself excluded from future groups if they are deemed excess baggage.

You may be well advised to consider yourself and the role or roles you play on teams you are currently part of. Perhaps you have a certain role in one group, and in another group you take on a different role, or you may be one of those people who tends to take on the same role again and again either by choice or election. It’s important for you to know your role and to tune in to this. Think about the skills and attributes of these positions. Can you learn from these? Can you for example bring them up in an interview, explaining to the interviewer the skills you have, the role you can play in their company, and how the company can benefit from your inclusion? Not everyone needs to be a leader, nor does every company require one. Maybe they need a Researcher, a Negotiator, a Thinker.

A good leader will recognize that there is value in every one of the roles described above, and that a productive team needs all the roles. In some groups, some people will shift from one role to another and assume several roles depending on the task at hand. I myself have been a Leader, a Peacemaker and a Negotiator all in the same meeting. In another working group, I know I am the Socializer and Taskmaster simultaneously, and the two are not in opposition to each other. There is an appropriate amount of time bringing levity to the group and getting people to connect personally and at the same time I’m committed to checking off all those agenda items before we break up.

So instead of saying, “I work well in teams” or, “I’m a team player” which just sounds so flat and commonplace, try in an interview to say something like, “In a team, I often take on the role of Negotiator, brokering deals and compromises between people that allows the entire group to move forward with important decisions and creates progress toward achieving goals.” Then give an example of this and you’ve just made yourself stand out from every other person out there who sounds like a broken record.

I’m pulling for ya!