The truth is we need each other to get much done.
Take the case of Shelly. She needs to collaborate with her coworkers even in a fast-paced and competitive environment. Another team member, Jake, makes it really hard to trust him, much less get the team’s work done. He consistently undermines the trust of Shelly and the team by cleverly ‘throwing others under the bus’, taking credit that isn’t his to take and running the other direction when problems arise. He has earned the spot as the unspoken terrible co-worker – the one everyone knows to watch out for.
Could this be you? Here are six easy and common ways to lose the trust and confidence of your colleagues.
Grab all the credit. This shows up when the successful group presentation is “I did this” and “I decided this was the best option” when the entire team spent hours creating these recommendations. This skill also appears when you take credit for the work of your direct reports – as if you, the manager, did it all alone. This showboat often ‘wins the battle and loses the war’ because over time others will make sure you don’t know everything underway in case you run to the spotlight at the expense of the team.
Trusted colleagues and leaders use “we” often, share credit and openly acknowledge the contribution of others. This is a sign of strength and confidence.
Run from any problem. On the flip side – when the group recommendations don’t go as planned, and you become an astonished bystander. Your comments make it look like you weren’t involved with a stealth goal of placing any negative consequences firmly on your team’s shoulders.
Use your energy to course correct. Listen to feedback and determine the next course of action with the team so you can regroup and move forward. Progress is the goal.
Wait for an audience to criticize. A client recently shared that he previewed his recommendations with the Director of another department. He said the Director was supportive and had no real feedback even when it was requested. Yet, once in a leadership meeting and the boss seemed skeptical – this Director shared how off base the plans were and said it “wasn’t really ready for prime time.” What?
Professionalism means being direct and sharing concerns directly to the person doing the work first – especially if they ask. If there is no response or you are ignored – then fair game. If you want to be trusted as a partner then give timely, constructive feedback directly– not just when others are watching.
Undermine with a smile. A few years ago, a consultant from another consulting group was in a program manager role at one our clients. She questioned everything we did on group calls and made everything ten times as hard. Meanwhile, we had a powerhouse, very knowledgeable team on this project so it didn’t add up. We soon realized that it wasn’t about the work, but that she had to partner with another consulting firm. We decided the only option was to address it head on and we did. Our project leader had a discussion with her about her consistent comments and pressed for specifics. She ended up apologizing for being unprofessional and unfair. I’m convinced that the direct communication was the reason for the change in her behavior. When you face underminers a direct conversation will be needed.
This issue also arises when team members go to the boss before raising a concern directly to the person. One of my favorite leaders always listened to his direct reports’ concerns and then asked, “Have you discussed this with her directly?” If the answer was no, he’d then say, “Let’s start there and see if that gets you the change you are looking for. Can I help you prepare for that conversation?” He kept the accountability squarely on us and everyone learned that you never complained about a coworker unless you first tried to resolve yourself.
Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
Disregard commitments and deadlines. Unless you are in a solo business, missed deadlines and not doing what you say you’ll do affects everyone. And, it’s just as bad when you wait until the last minute and then expect everyone else to jump through hoops to fix your lateness. As an Accenture colleague used to say, “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”
A little planning can make sure you not only consider your own deadlines but those that affect others. So many deadlines require work with or input from other team members. There isn’t a better way to have a silent sign on your forehead that says, “It’s all about me!” than to miss deadlines or not respect the time it takes from others to meet that deadline.
Day to day ‘all about me’ decisions can land you into the terrible co-worker camp. Respect for others, readiness to collaborate and a little pre-planning can go a long way toward being the coworker that others trust and respect.