"Well, we're in deep, deep yogurt now — without a spoon," Trish said, smiling grimly. With tremendous effort, Brad stifled a laugh, because he had just sipped some coffee, and a laugh would have made a significant and painful mess.
He swallowed, and then pleaded, "Not while I'm drinking coffee, OK? Seriously, what on earth are we going to do now? Even with this emergency I bet we can't get a conference room till Wednesday."
"No problem," said Trish, smiling. "We already have one."
Brad grinned. "You devil."
Trish had violated company policy by reserving a room without first scheduling a meeting. It was a little trick she had learned from having been down this road before.
In whatever role you play, you have and use "personal trade secrets." For instance, if you travel by air to make a presentation, you might carry with you a backup copy of the presentation on a flash drive, in addition to the one on your laptop, in case your laptop dies. Or maybe you call ahead to a pal in Purchasing and ask for help in filling out a req, to make sure it goes through on greased rails.
These personal trade secrets make you more effective. They help your teams perform at higher levels, and they make your company more competitive.
We all use little tricks
to make things happen.
Some are common, and
some are uniquely yours.Look around you. The people who sit around the table with you in those endless meetings also have secret tricks. Everyone has them, and you'll probably never find out what they are, because personal trade secrets remain secret for some good reasons:
- Job security
- Many of us feel that if we revealed our secret tricks, we might be less valuable to the company, because then we could be replaced more easily.
- Maybe, but think back. You'll probably find that your secret tricks have evolved over time. They tend to have a short shelf life.
- Some of us fear that if others knew our secret tricks, they might out-compete us for status or promotion.
- Perhaps, but your competitors will soon figure out secrets of their own, and some of those will be the same as yours. Your secret tricks might be invisible, but they aren't secrets for long.
- Policy violations
- Sometimes our secret tricks conflict with company policy. Revealing them could be dangerous.
- This is truly tragic, because it prevents the company from understanding the true costs of those policies.
What if somehow we could share our personal trade secrets without these risks? If you knew some of the personal trade secrets of your peers, chances are excellent that you would adopt some of them yourself, and everyone would benefit.
Well, now you can. Contribute your personal trade secrets anonymously to a Library of Personal Trade Secrets, where you'll be able to read what others have contributed, too. It will be our little secret. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Own Your Space
- Since we spend so much of our waking lives in our offices, it's surprising how few of us take control
of our immediate surroundings. If you do — if you make your space uniquely yours — you'll
feel better about the time you spend at work.
- Status-Report as a Second Language
- Sometimes, the clichés the losing team's players feed to sports reporters can have hidden meaning.
So it is with Project Status Reports, especially for projects in trouble.
- The Limits of Status Reports: I
- Some people erroneously believe that they can request status reports as often as they like, and including
any level of detail they deem necessary. Not so.
- Overconfidence at Work
- Confidence in our judgments and ourselves is essential to success. Confidence misplaced — overconfidence
— leads to trouble and failure. Understanding the causes and consequences of overconfidence can
be most useful.
- Ending Sidebars
- We say that a sidebar is underway in a meeting when two or more meeting participants converse without
having been recognized by the Chair. Sidebars can be helpful, but they can also be disruptive. How can
we end sidebars quickly and politely?
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 21: The Ultimate Attribution Error at Work
- When we attribute the behavior of members of groups to some cause, either personal or situational, we tend to make systematic errors. Those errors can be expensive and avoidable. Available here and by RSS on February 21.
- And on February 28: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: I
- Briefly, when people exhibit narcissistic behavior they're engaging in activity that systematically places their own interests and welfare ahead of the interests and welfare of anyone or anything else. It's behavior that threatens the welfare of the organization and everyone employed there. Available here and by RSS on February 28.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.