Saturday, January 5, 2008

വര്‍ക്കിംഗ്‌ Smart


Page - 1

Working Smart

Did you turn to this section first? With all the discussion about teamwork

and empowerment that takes place in our current work environments, you would

suppose that nothing more need be said. It isn’t so.

Our busy, hectic, schedule-packed work days and personal lives often find

us falling short of something . . . respect for one another. People around the

world work together every day, even if they are not friends. If we would merely

remember something from our pre-kindergarten days,

do unto others as you

would have them do unto you

, the workplace might have a more amenable


Today, more than ever, the ability to be flexible with others, and to adapt to

other work styles and habits will take us a long way in our careers. We need to

be open in our communications with the public we serve and with each other—

to directly communicate with each other! So many misunderstandings encountered

today could be rapidly diffused if only the individuals had talked


each other rather than


other people!

The world is rapidly changing, and our work environment is changing along

with it. The electronic revolution has caused us to work at warp speed every

day. Information that used to take two or three days via the U.S. Postal Service

is transmitted immediately with faxes and e-mail. We find that it is important to

be ready to respond immediately as well! This takes its toll emotionally and

physically on us. That’s why it is so important to be polite and respectful to

each other. After all, we are all


to row the boat in the same direction . . .

to present current information to our citizens. We need to remember the goal,

the light at the end of the tunnel, the

big picture

. Those that lose sight of the big

picture will find that it affects their work performance.

Work Styles

Many of us have probably been exposed (or subjected to) some type of

personality test. You may have discovered you are a

True Blue



overtones.1 Or, perhaps you are a concrete sequential or





Each of us have individual strengths and weaknesses that make us who we

are. The key to success lies in acknowledging these traits, working with them,

and adapting ourselves to others.

Perhaps you are a morning person. Over time you may have discovered that

it is to your best advantage to tackle projects requiring more energy first thing.

Some prefer to plan their work in advance, while others fly by the seat of their

pants. Any of these sound familiar? The important thing is to recognize your

style and the styles of the people you work with. You may be able to save

yourself some frustration and get more work accomplished along the way!

Teamwork gets things done!




Matrixx System Copyright 1993 NCTI


Gregorc Style Delineator Copyright 1982, 1985, Anthony F. Gregorc, Ph.D.

Work Styles

7 Working Smart

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Working Smart Continued

Your Career

If there is one thing we can count on it is change. Not many employees these days

could say that they will be employed by the same company for 25-30 years. This is

definitely a change from when our parents and grandparents were in the work force!

Joan Lloyd, an author, consultant, and speaker on workplace issues, has some good

advice when she suggests you “Begin thinking of yourself as a business of one.

Develop a freelance mentality. For example, pretend you are contracting with your

current employer rather than an employee. How does this change your approach to

work? Would you make sure your ‘client’ loves your work? Would you be on the

lookout for new projects? Would you be careful to build relationships within this client

company? Of course you would!”

She also suggests that you add value to your work. She explains, “If you are only

doing your job description by the book you are nothing more than a ‘pair of hands.’

And just any old pair of hands will do – you are expendable. Instead of doing what’s

expected, find ways to make your work stand out because you think ahead, solve

problems, and offer new ideas. If you were really freelancing, wouldn’t you make

sure your products and services added more value than the competition?”

Finally, Joan suggests that employees need to “Build a reputation for solving

problems. Did you ever notice that the same people always seem to get on task

forces and committees? Start thinking of yourself as one of those people and

raise your hand and get involved.” It has become increasingly important to

keep your education, skills, computer knowledge, and teamwork abilities


Other areas where you can enhance your reputation and your career are in

your control. These areas include:

• Follow through – Say what you mean and mean what you say. The

old phrase “actions speak louder than words” is referred to a lot

lately. If you tell someone you are going to do something then JUST

DO IT. If something unforeseen happens and you can’t follow

through, then communicate that to the other people involved. You

could also title this category dependability. Can others rely on you?

• Gossip – Participation is simply unprofessional. How would you like

your physician’s receptionist discussing your private medical concerns

to friends at the pool? If there are interpersonal problems, it is

always best to handle them one-on-one in a focused fashion with the

people directly involved. Dragging others through the mud only

sidetracks and distracts the whole office team.

• Time management – Be well organized. Know your deadlines and

work commitments. Advanced planning will help lower your stress level

every day! Be sure to plan free time and fun. Time to recharge your

batteries is important. Spend time doing a hobby or other activity you

enjoy, spend time with your family, spend time with friends, or veg out in

the backyard! JUST DO IT!

Problem solvers go far.

"Successful teams build

on the strengths of

individual members."


"Winning with Teamwork"

Your Career


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Working Smart

Managing Your Work

We are all managers. We direct, handle, and control our time, resources, and

work. While some have responsibilities for their own work, others are responsible for

several employees, or an entire office. Today’s workplace is so complicated that

some of the old traditional ways of the workplace do not seem appropriate anymore.

Even managers are confused with the changes today. In a recent column, Joan

Lloyd addressed management issues:

Managers are confused about empowerment . . . the leader who

empowers treats employees as adults instead of subordinates. Let’s

compare the micro-manager “

” and the empowering manager “E



believes that employees will try to get away with as much as possible

unless you check up on them and let them know who’s boss. On the

other hand,


operates from the philosophy that most employees want to

do the right thing and they enjoy a challenge. Ironically, both managers

end up reinforcing their own theories, since they’re self-fulfilling.


treats people like children who can’t be trusted and, sure enough, his

resentful employees begin proving him right.


puts a lot of trust in his

employees and they usually don’t let him down.


thinks most employees only work for a paycheck. E

believes that

employees are motivated when they are growing and taking on new


M treats employees like a dispensable pair of hands.


works with each employee to find out what their goals and abilities are

and looks for opportunities to develop the employee by giving them

larger areas of responsibility or projects in which they’re interested.


thinks of himself as an important decision-maker and a supervisor of



thinks of himself as a leader who is pointing the way toward

organizational goals and a teacher/coach who educates his employees so

together they can make better decisions.


orders people to do what she wants and she gets compliance by

threatening them.


’s employees do what she wants but they tend

to hide mistakes, make excuses and only do what they are told.


explains the results she’s looking for, and gives employees more

freedom to solve problems on their own, learn from their mistakes,

and suggest improvement ideas.


doesn’t accept excuses either;

she insists that employees take responsibility for their own behavior.


makes the decisions and only tells people what they need to know.


makes decisions, too, but includes people whenever possible.



on a continuum of decision-making . . . the more it will affect employees

and will require their buy in, the more she invites involvement.

Who do you want to work for -

M or E



Do you ever feel like this?

Try using your planner.

Page - 4

Working Smart Continued

Empowerment is a lot more than delegating responsibility and accountability.

It requires creating a new culture where employees are able to think and act

like “owners” because they have the information they need to make the right

decisions and the right environment that supports them.

Employees are trying to accomplish more technical work in less time than

ever before. It cannot be stressed enough that these same employees need to

have input in the office. We value employee input—after all our employees are

the front line. Our secretaries greet clients in person and on the phone, our

educators, community workers, and program assistants are presenting programs

to customers, and our unit leaders are representing University of Illinois Extension

with every contact they make. Doesn’t it make sense to have the best

possible people in our offices to accomplish our mission? If this is true, we must

trust and train employees to do their work. They need the latitude to fulfill this

mission in a business-like fashion. There is no time today to micro-manage

staff. They are adults . . . they are accountable for their work.

Be a Better Communicator

Recently Joan Lloyd


had this to say about how to be a better communicator:

If people only talked to each other, most of the conflict in the workplace

would disappear. Instead, it seems when we are wounded by someone or

disagree with something they’ve done we end up talking to everyone

except the person who’s directly involved.

We wander down the hall and talk to a co-worker . . . mention it to our

lunch buddies . . . complain about it to our spouse. We spread the negative

poison around the organization, drag unwitting co-workers into the fray,

sully reputations and, in the end, erode the trust that comes from open,

honest, face-to-face communication.

Where did we ever get the idea that confronting someone face-to-face

had to be such a horrible encounter. Are we all so worried about being

“nice” that we’ve opted for being spineless? And when did we get

confused about the perils of telling people the truth? What about the perils

of not telling them the truth? Our organizations are paying a big price for

this ‘smile to your face/talk behind your back’ communication style. It

costs millions in wasted time and lost productivity, in addition to a human

price in broken trust and lost respect.

Now don’t get me wrong . . . I’m not advocating brutal honesty and

confrontation that strips away self-esteem and dignity. I’m talking about

the respectful, caring communication that says, ‘I care about our

relationship. Something’s bothering me and I thought it was important to

talk to you about it directly so we could reach an understanding.’

I think most people are afraid. They’re afraid of hurting someone’s

feelings. They’re afraid of sounding ‘negative’ or ‘making waves.’


We would like to gratefully acknowledge Joan Lloyd for her permission to include information

from her newspaper columns.

This fellow may increase

his effectiveness with

another leadership style.


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Working Smart

They’re afraid of the backlash that can come from a conflict that

escalates into a fight. They’re afraid of de-motivating employees. They’re

afraid of not being liked. They’re afraid of collecting political baggage.

They’re afraid of not getting ahead or losing their job.

If you’re guilty of side-talk instead of straight-talk here are some behaviors that

can help:

• Use the ‘best intentions’ approach. Most people don’t intentionally wake

up in the morning and think to themselves, ‘I’m going to really hurt her

feelings today!’ Most people have the very best intentions. But it’s those

good intentions that keep getting us into trouble because others don’t

know our intentions . . . they only judge our actions.

• When approaching another person about a conflict say, ‘I’m sure you had

good intentions when you . . . but let me tell you how it looked from my

perspective . . .’ Rather than waving the finger of blame in someone

else’s face, just talk about the affect it had on you.

• Use the ‘I’m just getting your advice’ approach sparingly. A lot of

damage can be done by going to person after person ‘seeking advice’

about how to handle a conflict situation. It can become a way to see how

many people are on your side.

• Start by looking for things for which you should take responsibility. The

beauty of opening any conflict resolution session with self-disclosure is

that you bring the other person’s defenses down immediately and problem

solving can occur.

• Be as open and honest as you can, while preserving self-respect and

dignity. This is the very heart and soul of building trust. Sugar-coating your

message or smoothing over the seriousness only destroys trust. If you

respect the other person and want to remove barriers that are getting in

the way, the only way to build trust is to be open, honest and straightforward.

But in order to preserve the relationship, you must let people

maintain their dignity and save face.

• Does this sound pretty basic? You bet. It also is just plain good common

sense . . . but common sense isn’t so common . . . we all have to work

at it.


Try to keep in mind the old axiom used in real estate . . . location, location, location.

When you think of communication try . . . listen, listen, listen. We think of

communicating as a two-way street. You talk, I listen. Unfortunately, it doesn’t

always work that way! Most of us would rather

than listen


You might try the following

Active Listening Techniques


• Pay attention to non-verbal language. Body language gives important

clues to attitudes and feelings. Notice posture, gestures, facial expression,

and eye contact.

• Concentrate and work at listening, it’s hard work. If your mind wanders

and you lose your attention, the speaker will notice and think you aren’t

sincerely interested.

This poor fellow looks like a

victim of "side-talk"

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Working Smart Continued

• Be accepting of what is said, without judging or evaluating.

• Avoid the temptation to jump into the conversation with stories and

examples of your own. Making a few attempts at commonalities is helpful,

but making too many detracts from the speaker’s thoughts.

• Be empathetic. Put yourself in the place of the speaker: imagining

how he or she is thinking and feeling.

• Listen to the “para language”. . .the tone of voice is a good indicator

of a person’s emotional state. Listen for tone, the pitch, hesitation or

stuttering, loudness, rate, fluency and inflection.

• Guard against asking questions which may get the speaker off the

track. There are several skills that will help:

(1) Gathering information . . . “tell me more about that,” “let’s see

if I have heard it correctly.”

(2) Clarifying . . . practice reflective listening by paraphrasing and/

or summarizing . . . “in other words, you’re saying,” “it sounds like

you are,” “is this what you mean?”

(3) Summarizing . . . by summarizing what has been said, you give the

speaker feedback that helps you understand and shows the speaker

that he or she has been heard.

• Add any considerations you think are important.

Other tips for improving communication and listening include:

• Stop talking! You cannot listen if you are talking.

• Learn to want to listen - you must have desire, interest, selfdiscipline,


• Resist the temptation to daydream.

• Be a “whole-body” listener. Listen with your ears, eyes, and


• Control distractions. Don’t doodle, open the mail, or make phone


• Hold your temper. An angry person takes the wrong meaning

from words.

• Go easy on argument and criticism. This puts people on the

defensive, and they may clam up or become angry.

• Ask questions. This encourages a talker and shows that you are listening.

It helps to develop points further.

• Nature gave people two ears but only one tongue, which is a

gentle hint that they should listen more than they talk.

• Listening requires two ears, one for meaning and one for feeling.

• Decision makers who do not listen have less information for

making sound decisions.

Conflict Management

The chart in

Appendix A

provides some information about behaviors you might

have encountered and behaviors that you could use positively in the future.

Please refer to

Appendix B for a Conflict Management Style Survey

you can

use to do your own self-assessment.

Good listening = good




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Working Smart

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Above all, when we go about our daily work and interact with co-workers

and the public, we need to keep in mind the reason we are all here.

To enable people to improve their lives and communities through learning

partnerships that put knowledge to work.

As one of our regional directors often puts it, “What have you done today

to help the citizens of the State of Illinois?” Let’s also be sure to put knowledge

to work on ourselves too.

The Light

at the End

of the Tunnel

Appendix A-1

What works What doesn’t

Simply state your needs and concerns. Argue your position. Come on strong.

Listen. Acknowledge what is being said. Question the other person

s point of reference.

Challenge his values, point out weakness of other



Clarify what the other party means. Interpret. Make assumptions, jump to conclusions.

Invite criticism. Clarify what underlies that Defend yourself. Fight back.

criticism. Encourage venting

letting off steam.

Acknowledge the feeling expressed,

I can

see why you

d be angry over that.

Agree. Acknowledge any truths in their Disagree. Focus on areas of dispute.

statements (accusations). Seek out areas of

agreement. Focus on common concerns.

Focus on the problem, not the person. Focus on the personalities involved. Criticize.

Describe the problem in terms of the impact Keep score, teach them a lesson. Focus on what

you feel,

I feel we are not getting equal the other side has said or done.


instead of

You are a male


Encourage joint problem solving.


re in Impose your will. Solve the problem for them.

this together.

Use force.

Broaden your choices. Break problem into Push for a solution (yours). Don

t back down.

smaller more manageable parts.

Clarify the criteria on which this judgment is Play on their emotions. Moralize. Argue the

to be made. Seek objectivity. When things rightness of your position. Make it a game,

get heated take a break. egg them on.

Compromise. Find a solution acceptable to Win out over the other side. Enforce majority

both sides. vote. Line up support. Refuse compromise.

Take it to a higher authority.

Affirm the person. Give positive support Belittle the person. Weaken the opposition.

equal in strength to the vigor with which you Wear them down. Be strong.

attack the problem. Give credit, value the


Be firm but considerate and open. Share your Be nice. Cover up your real feelings. Avoid

real feelings in a nonthreatening manner. confrontation, be submissive, give in, it

s not

worth the hassle.

Conflict Management Behaviors

Appendix B-1

Conflict Management Style Survey

Instructions: Choose a single frame of reference and keep it in mind as you answer the questions. Select a real

community issue in which you have been involved, for example, school financing, street

improvement, lack of animal control outside the city limits, etc.

Allocate 10 points among the four alternative answers given for each of the 15 items below.

Example: When the people I lead become involved in a personal conflict, I usually:

Intervene to settle Call a meeting to talk

the dispute. over the problem. Offer to help if I can. Ignore the problem.

Be certain that your answers add up to 10.

1. When someone I care about is actively hostile toward me, i.e., yelling, threatening, abusive, etc., I tend to:

Try to persuade the

person to give up

Respond in a hostile his/her actively Stay and listen as long

hostile manner. hostile behavior. as possible. Walk away.

2. When someone who is relatively unimportant to me is actively hostile toward me, i.e., yelling, threatening,

abusive, etc., I tend to:

Try to persuade the

person to give up

Respond in a his/her actively Stay and listen as

hostile manner. hostile behavior. long as possible. Walk away.

3. When I observe people in conflicts in which anger, threats, hostility and strong opinions are present, I tend


Become involved

and take a Observe to see what Leave as quickly

position. Attempt to mediate. happens. as possible.

4. When I observe another person as meeting his/her needs at my expense, I am apt to:

Work to do Rely on persuasion

anything I can to and


when Work hard at

change that attempting to have changing how I relate Accept the situation

person. that person change. to that person. as it is.

Appendix B-2

5. When involved in an interpersonal dispute, my general pattern is to:

Draw the other Let time take its

person into Examine the issues Look hard for a course and let the

seeing the problem between us as workable problem work

as I do. logically as possible compromise. itself out.

6. The quality that I value the most in dealing with conflict would be:

Emotional strength

and security. Intelligence. Love and openness. Patience.

7. Following a serious altercation with someone I care for deeply, I:

Want to go back and Worry about it a lot

Strongly desire to work it out

whatever but not plan to Let it lie and not

go back and settle give-and-take is initiate further plan further

things my way. necessary. contact. contact.

8. When I see serious conflict developing between two people I care about, I tend to:

Express my

disappointment Attempt to persuade

that this had to them to resolve their Watch to see what

happen. differences. develops. Leave the scene.

9. When I see serious conflict developing between two people who are relatively unimportant to me, I tend to:

Express my

disappointment Attempt to persuade

that this had to them to resolve their Watch to see what

happen. differences. develops. Leave the scene.

10. The feedback that I receive from most people about how I behave when faced with conflict and opposition

indicates that I:

Try to work out Am easygoing and take

Try hard to get my differences a soft or conciliatory Usually avoid the

way. cooperatively. position. conflict.

Appendix B-3

11. When communicating with someone with whom I am having a serious conflict, I:

Try to overpower Am an active listener Am a passive

the other person Talk a little bit more (feeding back words listener (agreeing

with my speech. than I listen. and feelings). and apologizing).

12. When involved in an unpleasant conflict, I:

Make an occasional

quip or joke about Suppress all

Use humor with the situation or the Relate humor only to attempts at

the other party. relationship. myself. humor.

13. When someone does something that irritates me (e.g., smokes in a non-smoking area or crowds in line in

front of me), my tendency in communicating with the offending person is to:

Look the person

Insist that the directly in the eye Avoid looking

person look me in and maintain eye Maintain intermittent directly at the

the eye. contact. eye contact. person.

14. When someone does something that irritates me (e.g., smokes in a non-smoking area or crowds in line in

front of me), my tendency in communicating with the offending person is to:

Stand close and Use my hands and Stand close to the Stand back and

make physical body to illustrate my person without keep my hands to

contact. points. touching him or her. myself.

15. When someone does something that irritates me (e.g., smokes in a non-smoking area or crowds in line in

front of me), my tendency in communicating with the offending person is to:

Use strong, direct Talk gently and tell

language and tell Try to persuade the the person what my

the person to stop. person to stop. feelings are. Say and do nothing.

Appendix B-4

Conflict Management Style Survey

Scoring and Interpretation Sheet

Instructions: When you have completed all 15 items, add your scores vertically, resulting in four column totals.

Put these on the blanks below.

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4

Using your total scores in each column, fill in the bar graph below.

Column 1. Aggressive/Confrontive: High scores indicate a tendency toward

taking the bull by the horns

and a

strong need to control situations and/or people. Those who use this style are often directive and judgmental.

Column 2. Assertive/Persuasive: High scores indicate a tendency to stand up for oneself without being pushy, a

proactive approach to conflict, and a willingness to collaborate. People who use this style depend heavily on their

verbal skills.

Column 3. Observant/Introspective: High scores indicate a tendency to observe others and examine oneself

analytically in response to conflict situations as well as a need to adopt counseling and listening modes of

behavior. Those who use this style are usually accepting and patient, often suppressing their strong feelings.

Column 4. Avoiding/Reactive: High scores indicate a tendency toward passivity or withdrawal in conflict

situations and a need to avoid confrontation. Those who use this style are usually accepting and patient, often

suppressing their strong feelings.

Now total your scores for Columns 1 and 2 and Columns 3 and 4.

Column 1 + Column 2 = Column 3 + Column 4 =

(Score A) (Score B)

If Score A is significantly higher than Score B (25 points or more), it may indicate a tendency toward

aggressive/assertive conflict management. A significantly higher B score signals a more conciliatory


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