Practical Mentor

Jan 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: Career advice

PracticaL Mentor provides insight on workplace issues, challenges and problems.  Many sites on the web promise to reveal the secret of success, abundance and happiness in our daily lives with little or no effort. Others give simple formulas to achieve goals and climb the career ladder.  All of these sites may have merit, but in my experience the message usually does not fit my situation, or the advice is so general that it is hard to understand when and how to apply it.

We are all individuals who perceive similar situations differently.  Our individuality makes it very difficult to apply other’s success methods with the same results. What works well for one may be a disaster when applied by someone else. The PracticaL Mentor does not have a magic solution to supply one size fits all advice.  Instead the approach of the PracticaL Mentor is to provide tools to enable the analysis, evaluation, and application of solutions to individual situations. Most of us have experienced the situation where we make a comment or proposal to a group only to have it fall on deaf ears. Then another in the group makes the identical comment, and it is hailed as the idea of the century.  There are several challenges associated with this situation.  Some of the obvious ones are: How to get credit for our ideas; How to capture the groups attention and; How to recover when someone parrots your ideas.   Again, no one method fits all situations and individual personalities require individual solutions.  One common thread is the recognition and analysis of the situation.  By paying attention to group dynamics the parameters of the problem may be defined and addressed.  For example, one of my characteristics is to speak in a low monotone voice resulting in not being heard and not capturing attention when I speak.  This often resulted in not being heard. One remedy is to force myself to speak up when addressing a group.  Sounds simple, but it took a long time to learn.  Another helpful tool was to observe how others presented parroted ideas, and what was their   standing in the group. Often they would wait so that my presentation of the idea was history and most likely forgotten. Then they would premise their presentation of the idea with phases like “I was just thinking” to make it appear to be their idea. Then they would present my idea with enthusiasm and confidence. Their presentation was much stronger than mine.  Often they will wait for a lull in the conversation so that it is easier to capture everyone’s attention.  Observing these and other tactics will aid in developing better presentation skills.

Almost every group has a hierarchy or pecking order.  The obvious one is when the boss speaks usually there is a chorus of acceptance and support regardless of the value of the statement. There are also many facets to group dynamics and ones position within a group. Analyzing group dynamics  may enable you to improve your position within the group, and interact more effectively.  For example, I was once transferred into a new group where all of the others had worked together for a long time.  I was the new guy.  The others were close knit and not about to let me in.  Instead of trying to compete with the group, I decided it would be more effective to circulate my ideas for comment prior to the meeting. This established my ideas in writing and served as a basis for discussion. Although it was an up hill battle to gain acceptance this eliminated the hurdle of being ignored at meetings. Luckily some of my ideas triggered discussion.

Every group has a hierarchy or pecking order and it is very important to analyze it and determine or present position and your desired position. Being top dog is not always the best strategic move. The PracticaL Mentor will address many of the issues related to group dynamics as interest is presented.

Personality and personal style are very important in developing a successful career.  Every individual has a unique personality and personal style. What works well for one person may be a disaster for another. Even people who appear to have a lot in common may vary drastically in perception of the same or similar situation.  Often when advice is taken at face value or applied without tailoring to fit a person’s personality and style it is ineffective or may even be counter productive.  There are some tests available to help determine your workplace personality and style such as Myers Briggs.  There are some sites on line that provide aptitude testing to aid in choosing career matches. Some are free and others charge a fee.  I have taken several of these tests over the years in management training and found them to be entertaining, but not real helpful. Perhaps it was my lack of understanding on how to use the results. The other thing I notice is that my results changed over the years. Thus we are constantly evolving as we gain experience.  There are popular movements with the premise that what works for one will work for all.  That may be true at the highest level as the universe applies the same natural laws to all, but on an individual level, what works for an extrovert may not work as well for an introvert.  On a very basic level some people can tell almost any joke get a laugh, while others cannot get a laugh no matter how funny the joke.  The obvious conclusion may be if you cannot tell jokes perhaps you should not pursue a career as a comedian.  Another may be not to include jokes in presentations.

The goal of the PracticaL Mentor is to work in cooperation with readers to address and facilitate discussion of issues, topics, and challenges encountered while navigating a path to success. Please post a comment or question to start discussions on a topic of interest.


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