Shares Toys and Plays Well With Others
Apparently, I do not. I was 23 years old and it was my first “real” performance review. I already knew to be terrified. I loved my boss and I did great work—but somehow, some reason, I knew this was not going to go well. At the time I was working for a major hotel corporation. They had an envelope size review card with boxes to check for various desired behaviors. And, of course, there was the Likert scale of poor, fair, average, good and excellent. My boss had a full and complete document to comprise his comments. Then the cards were given to one person of my choosing, one person of his choosing and someone who did not work in our department. This was supposed to give me a 360 degree perspective. Right.
And I did great—almost every box was checked excellent with a few goods interspersed here and there. Until we reached the last section and the second to last box “shares toys and plays well with others.” I got some fairs—maybe even a poor. I scoffed—what the heck is that supposed to mean anyway? What does that have to do with “real” work?
But I jump ahead. My boss knowing me a little too well took me offsite for my review. We went to a neighboring hotel—we had cosmopolitans (this was a long time ago—cosmos were cool then) in the bar. We sat uncomfortably at a high boy. My feet dangled, a shoe probably fell off at some point and time. But he knew not to deliver the review in his office with the door closed and the blinds drawn. I needed to be sequestered because I was going to be annoyed, angry and, of course, I was.
What the heck did that crap have to do with my performance? Did I meet my numbers—of course? Did my clients love me—you bet? Did I meet all my deadlines, do each thing that was expected of me and more—yes, yes, yes? But when the team wanted to go out for cocktails on a Friday—I wanted to go home. When it was time for birthday cake—I always seemed to be on the phone and not to be disturbed. Did I know the names of everyone’s spouses—nope?
I clearly remember talking to my 83 year old grandma about it. She was licking her chops over the rise in her ADM stock. Very proud of her shrewd purchases. She asked twice what the measure was—I explained. She said “you do a good job?” Me “of course I do Grandma!” Her “that other stuff doesn’t make any sense.”
Not at 23 years old it didn’t. Not when I always put myself first before anything and anyone else. And funny, this measure seemed to have a different name on other reviews through the years and just kept showing up. I was “too forward, focused on business, blunt, harsh.” My perception was that I was tough as nails—especially to those who didn’t work for me or weren’t close to me. My reputation proceeded me and was nearly impossible to change. Yet, people who wanted to work hard—they seemed to click with me. Those who wanted to be pushed—yep they were good too. But those who wanted some balance with work and home, people who wanted to have fun—conflict, conflict, conflict.
Work was always work in my book and play was play. Until work started to be a bit more like play. It felt really different. So did years of studying DISC, behavior and emotional intelligence. I was actually coached once to say “hello” before I asked someone to do something. What madness.
The message kept coming through “your work/projects/clients are getting done/taken care of in the way you want” because people can’t and won’t approach you. There were committees I wasn’t a part of because I was perceived as difficult even though I could work circles around people—by myself and that was the issue.
Playing well with others is also about respect. I had a ton of respect for myself but always assumed no one else could do it as quick and correct as me. So why let them do it? Why give them a chance?
I started talking less. I tried to apply the things I had been coached to do over the years. I listened to what others had to say. I went with their ideas even if I thought mine was better. I didn’t stand in the way of their success and let them define success in their own way and not mine. They learned, I learned.
And now, working for myself, it’s all about holding myself accountable for my own behaviors. I know what my blind spots are. I know the strength, need areas of all the 4 key behavior styles. I apply this—every day, every client, every conversation. They feel heard, I feel heard and we are sharing our toys and playing well with each other.