by Brian Salvaggio, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs
As Student Affairs professionals we pride ourselves on developing rapport with our students, colleagues and community. It takes a lot of work to build a good reputation and to establish a sense of trust and credibility with the people we work with. Too often people make mistakes that cost them their credibility. In some case, these mistakes can make it difficult to ever get back on track. Highlighted below are five work strategies that can hinder or help your own credibility.
Understanding Your Boss
Understanding your boss is one of the keys to being happy at work. Knowing what is important to your boss can help you develop a better rapport, or it may help you understand why your boss acts a certain way.
Learning what is important to your boss or manager requires that you listen and learn. Bosses often share what they need or how they want things done. Listen for the cues and be sure to keep them posted on where you are on projects, especially those that are important to them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, when you don’t understand what you are suppose to be doing. If you are “in over your head”, let your boss know so that you can both figure of how to get a handle on the project and meet the expectations and deadlines.
Am I Venting or Complaining?
We have all experienced someone that has difficulty say anything that is positive about anyone or anything. The workplace is not the right place for complaining. People will avoid complainers and they can be quickly labeled as someone who is not a true team player. From time to time employees may feel the need to share their candid thoughts with others but it makes better sense to find a trusted friend outside of work who you can vent to. People who complain too much are not the people who are selected for key assignments, promotions, salary increases or awards. If you are known as someone who likes to complain and talk about other people you will not be trusted.
Am I part of the Problem or the Solution?
Each of us has a job or role that comes with some level of power and influence. We are expected to be problem solvers and to figure out how to remove road blocks and solve problems. Earlier I discussed the importance on not being seen as a complainer. It also important to be someone who is able and willing to discover workable solutions to problems. If we only go to our supervisors to unload problems then we are not being effective in our job. Although we may not be able to resolve every problem that comes across our desk, we can and should think through possible solutions and scenarios that help move the organization or department forward. Your boss will see you favorably as someone who is resourceful, effective and understand the problem at hand.
Working with People We Don’t Like
In every work setting there are people who drives us crazy. Some are lazy, unproductive, unprofessional and poor communicators. If we simply avoid these people our lives may seem simpler. This strategy of avoidance never works well. At some point in time we have to interact with these difficult people. Unfortunately, sometime the people who are roadblocks to doing our jobs well may also be employees who have power and influence. We must be careful not to sabotage relationships with anyone in the organization. It requires patience and practice. People often behave for a reason; although it may not be possible to unravel the complexity of the personality at hand, it is important that we establish a working relationship even with difficult people. Work hard at getting to know these folks outside of a conflict. The old expression of keeping your enemies close allows you as an employee to know what is going on and to be informed.
Politeness and Gratitude
Treating people nicely and thanking them is a common courtesy that goes a long way in the workplace. When someone does something nice, works hard on a project or just handled a stressful situation, a kind word is in order. As a career services professional for over 15 years, I was often struck by the fact that some candidates didn’t learn this important message. Candidates on an interview were often not considered further when they were abrupt to office clerical staff or rude to a waiter during a restaurant interview. The same is true in the work setting. You will be known as an authentic and good person if you treat everyone the same whether they are the President, the custodian or one of your potential clients. The Golden Rule works and will be noticed.