Administrative success hinges on our capacity to identify, understand, and eliminate professional blindspots. This requires SIGHT, an acronym that describes how to form a productive communication partnership with coworkers through
- Hearing and
How would your closest coworkers (those who know you best) respond to the questions below about your administrative style tendencies? Use the following ABC scale to show how your coworkers would probably respond.
A. My coworkers would probably strongly agree.
B. My coworkers would probably mildly agree.
C. My coworkers would probably disagree.
____ 1. I tend to put things off and procrastinate.
____ 2. I often “shoot-from-the-hip” and take action prematurely.
____ 3. It takes me a long time to make important decisions. I’m often the victim of “paralysis by analysis.”
____ 4. Rules, regulations, and procedures are extremely important to me in getting things done.
____ 5. I have a strong need to be liked and accepted by others.
____ 6. I find conflict to be very stressful, so I generally try to avoid it.
____ 7. I operate in traditional, mainstream ways and seldom go against the grain.
____ 8. I am keenly aware of political realities in the organization and strive to use them to my advantage whenever possible.
____ 9. I am somewhat aloof and non-relational.
____ 10. I’m not easy to please and often am a perfectionist.
____ 11. I compromise too easily and too quickly.
____ 12. I have a definite need to control things and be in the driver’s seat.
What does your profile look like? How many statements would your coworkers probably strongly endorse (marked “A” on the scale)? Do you feel these perceptions are fairly accurate and on-target?
The previous 12 statements are a snapshot of the dozen most common administrator blindspots—hindrances to performance we may be only vaguely aware of, but which are probably painfully obvious to those who work with us. These common blindspots are:
2. Premature timing
3. Bottleneck decision making
4. Bureaucratic managing
5. Over-eagerness to please
6. Fear of conflict
7. Status quo traditionalism
8. Political opportunism
11. Indecisive compromising
12. Control orientation.
SHEDDING SOME LIGHT ON OUR BLINDSPOTS
Eliminating blindspots requires persistent searching—someone who recognizes that the prevailing status quo is rarely the best way to do things. Effective administrators search out new solutions to old problems, ways to more productively harness people’s potential, and strategies for constructive change.
Interaction with the organization’s internal environment (coworkers across a wide swath of departments) and external environment (clients, suppliers, regulators) exposes the administrator to different and potentially better ways of doing things. We learn a lot more from comparison than from mere introspection.
Goodwill builds rapport, trust, and honesty in communication among coworkers, erecting a strong bridge that much can be carried across including disagreements, disappointments, and disruptions. When goodwill exists, coworkers will constructively level with us about our professional deficiencies and thereby expand our self-awareness.
Only on hearing the honest opinions of others about ourselves can we take constructive action. But we will not hear people we do not regularly interact with, share professional ideals with, or trust. It is amazing how many helpful things people will honestly share with us once we show the willingness to listen.
Change does not come easily or without a cost, so we must target a manageable set of improvement goals to work on. Start with the items marked “A” on the dozen statements previously evaluated. Make it easy for your two or three most valued coworkers to shed light on your blindspots and vice versa.
Remember, the better others know you, the better you can know yourself. Why not form an inSIGHTful partnership with coworkers and rise above your mutual blindspots? You have nothing to lose but some bad administrative habits and a lot of needless daily frustration.
Phil Van Auken