"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:
- Heavy Burdens: Should, Always, Must, and Never
- As a leader you carry a heavy burden. You're accountable for everything from employee development to
meeting organizational objectives, and many of these responsibilities conflict. Life is tough enough,
but most of us pile on a load of over-generalized rules of work life — a load too heavy for anyone
- The Hypothetical Trap
- Politicians know that answering hypothetical questions is dangerous, but it's equally dangerous for
managers and project managers to answer them in the project context. What's the problem? Why should
you be careful of the "What If?"
- How we deal with adversity can make the difference between happiness and something else. And how we
deal with adversity depends on how we see it.
- Indicators of Lock-In: II
- When a group of decision makers "locks in" on a choice, they can persist in that course even
when others have concluded that the choice is folly. Here's Part II of a set of indicators of lock-in.
- Meeting Troubles: Collaboration
- In some meetings, we collaborate not in reaching objectives, but in preventing our doing so. Here are
three examples of this pattern.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
- A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
- And on August 1: Strategies of Verbal Abusers
- Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.
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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.