When you present your ideas to your boss, what is your approach? Are you sheepish, shy, subdued? Or are you bold, confident, maybe even brash?
Having been on both sides of that exchange, I can say that confidence wins every time.
If you ever have the opportunity (or burden…) of standing on stage to present, the single most important thing you can do to ensure success is to mount the stage with confidence and a smile. What you display, the audience will assume.
If you appear confident, the audience will presume you know what you are talking about. The opposite is equally true.
The same applies when meeting with your boss and your peers. A smile and a positive posture of confidence will gain you more leverage and leeway in whatever it is you wish to do. Have a harebrained idea you want to act on? Present it boldly, with confidence and a smile.
As a comedian, I have found that how I take the stage, and how I present each joke, is far more important than the words in the joke. If I deliver it with intention and courage, even a bad joke will have more likelihood of scoring a good laugh. However, if I deliver it with a voice and presence that suggests I’m not so sure of the joke, it will invariably fall flat.
In my most recent blog post, I suggested that making sure there is a good cultural fit between the employer and employee is an important consideration. And that during the interview process, it is equally important for both the company and the individual applying for a position to ask questions around this topic.
The very next day, Dilbert started a series of comics making fun of the whole concept of hiring based on cultural fit. I won’t violate Scott Adams’ copyrights by pasting his actual comic strip here, but you can click on this link to see one of my favorites in that series. Or do a search on the Dilbert site. My favorite of the series ran on September 29, 2014.
Some people would say, “Well, he told you!” I would say, we’re both right.
In the comic, a good cultural fit is being held up as an alternative to a competent employee. Understand that competence, to me, is a basic level of qualification. Being competent is your permission to even interview for a given position. This is not an either/or, mutually exclusive decision. Obviously, employers need to find competent candidates.
But, once competence has been established, chances are very good that there will be several candidates still in the running. That is when cultural fit comes into play.
If you’ve ever compared job fairs to speed-dating, that comparison just got more interesting.
eHarmony, the company known for using personality profiling to create the perfect match for those looking for a personal relationship, recently announced they are getting into the job search and recruiting business. And I’m all for it.
Those of you who have paid attention to this blog at all know that I am a huge proponent of finding a good fit between employer and employee. The search and interview process must be a two-way street. The prospective employee should be asking just as many deep, probing questions as the hiring company.
Matching an employee’s personal style to the culture of an organization is a critical component of long term satisfaction and success for both the employee and the company.
I am hopeful for what the eHarmony approach can bring to this field. I am equally excited about other job-matching services paying attention to this and possibly adding more personality and culture-matching algorithms to their search engines.
In the end, we all benefit. Because Work Should Be Fun!
PS – If you are an employer who can’t wait for the eHarmony product launch, consider the services of someone such as my friend, Michael Spremulli. His company provides pre-employment assessments that will help you match the right person to the right job.
Today I take a slight turn and refer you to the blog posting of one of my former bosses. He captures the essence of what made our work at AOL fun – trust and empowerment.
I can cite numerous examples of the absolute trust my boss(es) placed in me and my team, even in the face of major system outages. It wasn’t just during a crisis that this trust was exhibited. It was evident in every day decision making.
This trust and empowerment permeated throughout the operations organization. Individuals knew they were not only trusted, but EXPECTED to make major decisions and take quick action every day. I feel quite fortunate to have worked at this place at the time that I did.
Last week I entertained at the Huron County Fair in Norwalk, OH, doing 3 shows each day from Monday through Saturday. It was a lot of fun, especially with the fantastic crowds and super weather.
Sharing the grassy area stage with me was Bobby Maverick, a magician and escape artist. For years, Bobby made his living as a street performer, or Busker. We got to talking about how we measure our success as entertainers. Bobby told me how much he loves performing on a street corner, with the only payment being what shows up in your upturned hat when you’re done. He explained that it doesn’t matter how many laughs you get or how loud the applause, the only thing that matters to a street performer is how much money is in that hat.
Many comedians measure their success by laughs per minute during their set. Jeff Dunham, for example, strives for a sustained 6-7 laughs per minute during his 90-minute shows. Do the math. That’s a lot of laughs. It also explains why people are sore for days after going to one of his shows.
My goal is to entertain the audience. Sure, I want the audience to laugh – a lot. But, I’m not going for the level of sustained laughter that Jeff seeks. My act is specifically designed to generate waves of strong laughter with some pleasant rest periods in between. So, a sustained rate of 5-7 laughs per minute over the entire show is not the right metric for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I am always looking for ways to make the peaks stronger and the valleys narrower. But, much like a band that mixes in some slow songs to give the audience a break between the hard driving numbers, I intentionally mix in some segments that are designed to let the audience catch their breath.
During the fair, I realized two metrics that I can use instead. First is repeat audience attendance. I’ve been doing fairs for years and it has always amazed me that with all of the things going on at these events, people would make the choice to come back and see my show numerous times.
It is flattering. It also makes me work harder to do different shows each time.
Second is how many people pull out their cell phones to capture my act on video. I know many entertainers who get all bent out of shape when people record their shows. I find it amazingly flattering. If someone is enjoying what I am doing so much that they have the desire to record it, I’ll take that compliment every time. The reality is that people rarely try to record the whole thing. Something clicks with them and they pull out their phone to capture some small portion of the act. The more this happens, the more I know I am providing a show that they are enjoying.
The repeat attendee metric only works for extended runs like fairs. The cell phone metric, however, is appropriate for pretty much all of my work, including the audiences I serve the most – company and association events. Now my task is to set some targets for these metrics and figure out ways to actually track them.
What are your metrics? What is the best way to gauge the success of your performance?
During the summer months at my house, we often have heated debates over open windows vs running the air conditioner. All of us prefer having the windows open as long as the temperature of the day supports that. It is making the transition between the two that has often caused us to keep the A/C running, even though it was colder outside than inside. Until recently.
My wife and I were having one of our silly debates over whether we should make the transition from running the A/C to having the windows open. My daughter asked why this required so much discussion. I said, “It’s such a big deal to run around and open all the windows.” Her reply was so simple, “Or, you could just not make it a big deal.” Ouch!
Isn’t that how we all live? We turn the simplest of tasks into a big deal, much bigger than they need to be. So we remain stuck in a situation, unwilling to make a change. And when we finally get around to making that change, we think, “Hey, that wasn’t such a big deal after all.”
And don’t we do the same thing at work? How many of us have stayed in a job or work situation we found to be unpleasant because we viewed making the transition to be “A Big Deal?” Or, perhaps the work situation isn’t really all that bad. We’re simply making it to be a bigger deal than it deserves.
As you go about your day today and hit those moments of frustration, ask yourself, does this need to be a big deal?