"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:
- Keep a Not-To-Do List
- Unless you execute all your action items immediately, they probably end up on your To-Do list. Since
they're a source of stress, you'll feel better if you can find a way to avoid acquiring them. Having
a Not-To-Do list reminds you that some things are really not your problem.
- Troublesome Terminology
- The terms we use at work to talk about practices, policies, and procedures are serviceable, for the
most part. But some of them carry connotations and hidden messages that undermine our larger purposes.
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be learned? Here's one method.
- How We Waste Time: II
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- Performance Mismanagement Systems: I
- Some well-intentioned performance management programs do more harm than good, possibly because of mistaken
fundamental beliefs. Specifically: the fallacy of composition, the reification error, the myth of identifiable
contributions, and the myth of omniscient supervision.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 13: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: I
- To take the risks that learning and practicing new ways require, we all need a sense that trial-and-error approaches are safe. Organizations seeking to improve processes would do well to begin by assessing their level of psychological safety. Available here and by RSS on December 13.
- And on December 20: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: II
- When we begin using new tools or processes, we make mistakes. Practice is the cure, but practice can be scary if the grace period for early mistakes is too short. For teams adopting new methods, psychological safety is a fundamental component of success. Available here and by RSS on December 20.
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