In the course of my consulting engagements, I work with hundreds of mid-level and senior leaders a month.
Lately, I’ve asked asked many of them the same question:
When you make an offer to be of support to a group of entry-level or junior-level employees, how many of them actually take you up on your offer and contact you?
By my count, it’s a grand total of 3%.That’s it. 3%.
Which means 97% let a potentially golden opportunity slip away.What do those 97% have in common?They treat the work environment the same way they treated the school environment.
Both work and school have authority figures. At school, it’s teachers. At work, it’s senior people.
In the school context, people are rewarded for learning the right answer, retaining the right answer, and re-stating the right answer at the right time. Follow that process, and you can be an ‘A’ student.
In the school model, you can interact with your teachers from a distance and still turn out at the top. You can excel as a individual contributor. Merit is awarded mainly on what you do, not how you do it. In this environment, avoid talking to the teacher and asking questions for fear of looking stupid.
In the work context, the rules are quite different. At work, there may be multiple “right” answers. There are a lot of unknowns: those in charge may not even know exactly what they’re looking for. The playing field and rules are constantly changing.
Most importantly, work is primarily a collaborative team sport. You need to work well with others to succeed. Merit and rewards are not objective, but subjective.
At work, the people who speak up and engage get noticed. People who find ways to add value get valued. In every organization, people want to work with people they know, they like, and they trust – in that order: know/like/trust. The 3% get known. They have the courage to speak up. That initiative gives them an edge to get liked. Then, they are trusted with more opportunities and responsibilities.
Their initiative to get involved becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their following up demonstrates their commitment to the organization, and the senior leaders in the organization reciprocate by committing back to them.
The leaders I talk to are consistently amazed. They wonder why don’t more people take me up on my offer? Are you in that 3%?
What have you done/can you do to be more in that 3%? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.