I recently had opportunity to speak to communication majors at Spring Arbor University. The question I was asked to answer was What do our students need to know as they are preparing to enter the ever-changing Com & Media workplace? What skills, knowledge, (life lessons & attitudes), etc. will be most beneficial for them to be intentionally seeking and practicing here in order to prepare them for when they enter the work force. I titled the session “Who You Are Matters More Than What You Can Do”. I’ve broken the presentation down into three posts which will focus on skills, attitudes and life lessons.
Part Two: Attitude
I mentioned this is just one of those things where it’s always team first. Nobody likes a showboat. Nobody likes someone who took credit for someone else’s work. Be humble and gentle. When people ask you about the team, point to someone else. Good managers and leaders will take note of this and reward you. But don’t do it because there’s a reward. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.
You can go a ton of ways here, but what I’m thinking about with regard to integrity is this: “Do what you say you’re going to do”. If your boss says you need to have something done on Tuesday and you commit to delivering it Tuesday, guess what? Deliver it Tuesday. If you commit a report or piece of work to a coworker by Thursday noon, give it to them Thursday noon. When you fail, apologize. Keep tweaking expectations and your workload. But become the person who is dependable and follows through on commitments. I’ve worked with both. And I’ve been both. I prefer to work with and be a person of integrity.
I shared the story of how groups of us would come down to Indianapolis and share time together. And there was a person who just seemed that they never were thankful. Thankful for a job. Thankful for when the company or myself personally would pay for meals, entertainment, or even go out and buy coffee for everyone. I never did those things to get people to thank me. But over time, I began to feel a bit like I was being taken advantage of. My kindness or generosity was being exploited. That was the exception. The rule was a group of really cool people who “got it”. One guy I mentioned is Michael. I have a card I keep in my desk he wrote me when he resigned and took a job at a company that was a better fit for his family. I remember he was gracious on his calls for interviews and tone in his emails. He was gracious with the people he dealt with during his tenure at FMCUSA. He was even gracious when he left. Read his announcement on his website and you’ll know why Michael was a value to the team. Not just because he was good at his job. Because he was grateful.
It was funny, when I came into the room to speak this week, I overheard a student. The first words out of his mouth to a staff in the COM department was, “I thought there were going to be snacks. Where are the snacks?” He said it with a sense of entitlement. My first thought in my head was, “Why don’t you bring the snacks, Mr. Complainer?” Really?
Don’t be entitled. Be gracious.
My friend Andrea is one of the most gracious people I know. From day one in a new leadership role at FMCUSA, she became my right hand and helped me through some turbulent waters. But she did it with a sense of gratitude. Of all the people on the team, Andrea would be the one to bring home made snacks to share, fresh raspberries from her family’s farm, the first to volunteer to fill a gap or run an errand. She’s the person who remembers your birthday. She’s the person who makes home made dog treats for my dog. She’s a culture builder. A true team member. One who leads with a grateful and gracious spirit. Who would you want to work with? Mr. No-Snacks or Andrea? I thought so. Become people like Andrea and Michael: Gracious.