"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:
- The Shape of the Table
- Not only was the meeting running over, but it now seemed that the entire far end of the table was having
its own meeting. Why are some meetings like this?
- Virtual Presentations
- Modern team efforts almost certainly involve teleconferences, and many teleconferences include presentations,
often augmented with video or graphics. Delivering these virtual presentations effectively requires
an approach tailored to the medium.
- I've Been Right All Along
- As people, we're very good at forming and holding beliefs and opinions despite nagging doubts. These
doubts lead us to search for confirmation of our beliefs, and to reject information that might conflict
with our beliefs. Often, this process causes us to persist in believing nonsense. How can we tell when
this is happening?
- The Retrospective Funding Problem
- If your organization regularly conducts project retrospectives, you're among the very fortunate. Many
organizations don't. But even among those that do, retrospectives are often underfunded, conducted by
amateurs, or too short. Often, key people "couldn't make it." We can do better than this.
What's stopping us?
- False Summits: II
- When climbers encounter "false summits," hope of an early end to the climb comes to an end.
The psychological effects can threaten the morale and even the safety of the climbing party. So it is
in project work.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 17: Overt Belligerence in Meetings
- Some meetings lose their way in vain attempts to mollify a belligerent participant who simply will not be mollified. Here's one scenario that fits this pattern. Available here and by RSS on October 17.
- And on October 24: Conversation Irritants: I
- Conversations at work can be frustrating even when everyone tries to be polite, clear, and unambiguous. But some people actually try to be nasty, unclear, and ambiguous. Here's Part I of a small collection of their techniques. Available here and by RSS on October 24.
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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.