A new colleague recently asked me for advice about how to thrive in our professional setting. She asked about the following specific topics: (1) the possible internal conflicts of which she should be aware, (2) how she can best serve her supervisor and others and (3) strategies she should employ to develop a healthy working relationship with her supervisor.
Following is the advice I gave her.
Navigating Possible Internal Conflicts
- Be aware of the negative and toxic people. They are a minority, but they may be powerful. Serve them like you would any other colleague. Otherwise, avoid them like the plague.
- Be aware of two-facedness and expose it whenever possible. Do not fall prey to it or indulge in it.
- Note that some colleagues are adverse to change – even if the change will make their professional lives better. Be patient and be prepared to share your ideas at a later date. That later date may come sooner than expected.
- Remember that all organizations have pockets of mediocrity. There is nothing special about being average. Avoid those who embrace mediocrity.
- Be polished – especially when interacting with external stakeholders.
- Know your audience. Everything is not for everybody. How you interact with your BFF is not how you should interact with a board member.
Serving Your Supervisor and Others
- Work hard
- Do not make promises you cannot keep
- Maintain professional boundaries
- Trust a select few
- Say nothing behind a person’s back that you would be unwilling to say to his or her face
Developing a Healthy Working Relationship with Your Supervisor
- Be loyal – publicly and privately
- Refrain from badmouthing him
- Tell him the bad news before others do so – do not blind side him
- Go to him with any issues
- Work hard
- Admit to mistakes, fix them and do not repeat them – never attempt to cover them up
- Learn from him – he can help you professionally and indefinitely