I was in a non-business setting with several people I know not long ago. It was during the holidays and a young man who was in the group started commenting about a phone call he had with his manager that morning.
What I heard bothered me.
What he described was that his manager called him to ask some questions about a client situation they had. It was a normal work day but the young man was on vacation following a major holiday.
He then proceeds to almost boast to our little informal group that he made absolutely sure his manager understood, “he was on vacation”. The assumption seemed to be, “I don’t do company work when I’m on vacation.”
I don’t know what you think about this, but my thought was, , ,
I immediately put myself in this young fellow’s manager’s shoes and thought about what he must be thinking if this kid actually made these statements and in the tone he stated he did.
Again, , , , WOW !!!
I want to see this young man succeed, but he is going to struggle with this kind of attitude. His whole demeanor came across as sarcastic and negative, , , arrogant even. That’s what I heard and I’m sure it’s what his manager heard, , , again if he used the same bravado tone and words that he expressed in our group.
Maybe he was trying to boast to us a bit that, “he is in charge” and didn’t actually have the conversation the way it sounded. Hopefully that’s what it was because I can assure you his manager made a note in the back of his mind about the young man “not being a team player” if he did.
Let me put in some context to all of this:
- I know the young man but don’t really know much about what he does other than it has to do with technology.
- I don’t know the manager nor do I have any idea as to whether he is a good manager or a weak one.
- I know nothing about the situation that precipitated the call.
So, I don’t know very much about the situation, , , but what I do know a little bit about is managing people and how managers tend to view things.
My reaction is simple. The young man in question is making a big mistake.
I’ll give the manager the benefit of the doubt and assume he is a reasonably decent manager. If so, here are some thoughts from a management perspective:
- We don’t call our employees when they are on vacation unless we have an emergency or maybe the employee is the only person who has information we truly need before he gets back.
- Managers are looking for team players who “step up” when the opportunity presents itself.
- None of us want to abuse our employees. We want them to take vacation and time off so they can recharge the batteries.
- Calling someone on vacation is usually a last resort to an important situation.
- We look for people with “can do” attitudes, not people who complain and make life difficult.
- “Can do” people get ahead; difficult people do not.
I’m concerned that this young guy won’t advance as much as he could if he maintains this negative attitude. He seems to be capable technically, but the best technical people are not always the people who get ahead.
Positive attitude, teamwork and people skills are just as important, if not more so, than strong technical skills.
Part of what I heard in the discussion was that our young man knows the technology and feels empowered by it, , , even so much as thinking he can put his manager in his place and almost chastising him for daring to call him while on vacation.
This is a false assumption, , , eventually the employee loses if that’s the case. The reason is simple, , , we have a job to do and at times very challenging work that can be stressful. Managers are looking for positive contributors and team players. Ultimately, this manager will not be held captive by his employee no matter how capable he is with the technology.
I can tell you that I would do two things with an employee who responded the way this young man stated he did:
- Coach him on a few things:
- How this comes across, , , i.e., negatively
- There are business reasons why a call to him while on vacation might be necessary
- Explain what the business implications are if he can’t be reached
- Talk about how we get him out of being a “silo of information” so we don’t need to call him on vacation
- Start identifying my backup plan so we aren’t at risk if we lose him
Managers want their employees to be successful, , , but we won’t be held hostage by a great technical person who can’t be a positive force on the team. Teamwork rules because without it the entire organization fails.
In summary, positive attitude and teamwork are key, , , maybe two of the most important aspects of what helps you get ahead. It doesn’t mean you can be technically incompetent, but given the choice of two people who are technically competent and one that is positive and the other is negative and difficult to work with, , , who do you think gets further ahead?
Yep, , , the positive force and the person who understands the importance of teamwork.
Positive attitude can make all the difference.
IT people must be aware of something. Our personalities are often skeptical of others and we prefer to do things ourselves, , , not necessarily teamwork traits. It’s important for career success to be a positive contributor and avoid confrontation when possible.
When challenges occur, , , look for positives in the situation, , , not the negatives. It will reward you in the long run because people around you will notice the upbeat, consistently positive attitude you have even under duress.