As a manager, I often wondered about the new internees, new hires or seasoned colleagues.
How could I judge their character and not just their results?
I wanted to be sure that they were reliable, honest and above all not toxic! I wanted to avoid negative people and also the gossipmongers not to mention the lazybones.
Over the years, I developed a cheat sheet with 7 ways to judge these people. This was the key to assessing their:-
- Anger control
Sometimes, I did not even have to use all seven of them because empathy, an attraction and a similar sense of humor often did the trick.
Nothing wrong with our gut instinct but not always totally reliable. We have all been deceived or manipulated at some point in our lives.
But I did find that selecting recruits and doing performance assessments, these ways were very useful indicators and helped me to assess them more professionally.
For starters, I always kept an ear open at the water cooler and listened in when they were joking, ranting, gossiping or preaching. These were sometimes useful indicators.
“How a person treats their waitress is a great indication of their character.”
― Amy Poehler, Yes Please
1. Facebook stalking is not reliable
It is a relief to know that studying a person’s handwriting is no longer judged to be reliable. I do have some reservations about some prominent politicians’ signatures, however! Seriously though, nobody writes by hand now, so all that went out with the flood.
What we have now are recruiters who stalk candidates on their social media accounts. I find this is a total waste of time so I have never done it.
If I were applying for a job, I would tone down the language, just in case!
An interesting study showed all the social media stalking of candidates was not a valid indicator at all. Just because they were using bad language or telling sexist jokes did not correlate with their job evaluations at all.
2. Try a little kindness
I always observe these little acts of kindness which can range from a willingness to listen or to give advice. Helping out with a computer problem can be a valid indicator too.
3. Is their anger control button working?
Angry ranting usually involves other colleagues and of course, management. If snapping and shouting is a regular, almost daily occurrence then I know that there are some underlying issues here which may mean taking action.
This sort of negative reaction to daily and often minor glitches means that the person will be liable to escalate this sort of behavior to even more aggression and bullying. The fallout from this behavior can affect coworkers’ morale and motivation. If you are the line manager then you will have to address the issue.
4. How do they take the blame?
I know lots of friends and colleagues who play the blame game. They never take the blame and it is often their fault. They will never admit that and then start blaming others.
They screwed up big time and if they cannot take the blame, they will never be totally responsible for their actions now or in the future.
I always found that admitting my mistake cleared the air, and I expected my staff to do the same.
“As a general rule…people ask for advice only in order not to follow it; or if they do follow it, in order to have someone to blame for giving it.”
― Alexandre Dumas
5. Study the emails
How I manage my own inbox says a lot about me! I am not that great but I do reply to emails and delete about half of them because a study actually shows that 50% should never have been sent in the first place!
A lot of those are FYI (for your information) and are sent by coworkers to keep you in the loop. More likely to waste your time. Time to get our filters and notification alerts in order!
We also know that about 11 million Americans are now suffering from email addiction.
If you are kept waiting for a reply, then this is a sign that your colleague is not reliable and you take note.
Other great indicators are:-
· Too many CAPS indicates shouting
· Too many exclamation marks mean they are happy or indignant.
· Overuse of question marks could be regarded as venting their anger
· Too many errors may mean carelessness and sloppiness. There are so many spelling checks and grammar aids now that they really have no excuse.
· How many smileys? Are they actually used in real life by that person?
6. Who are the show-offs?
You can spot these easily enough because they constantly talk about their successes and achievements. Not to mention how quickly they got promoted!
These are warning signs that this person is not going to be a great team player and probably has never been.
I always found it useful to ask my managees what they wanted to achieve for themselves and how this would contribute to the company’s goals. I also mentioned what I was hoping they would achieve and we would agree on what needed to be done if they were slightly off track.
I also preferred to give mini-feedbacks as and when it was necessary. I did this in a very informal and (I hope friendly!) way.
This was a very effective way of letting the more modest and less confident employees show their true worth.
7. Look out for the quitters
We all know the joke mug that teachers get on their retirement:-
“Congrats on being a quitter.”
What about your colleagues who are easily discouraged and will quit fairly early on? You want to spot the ones who are really tenacious and who persevere in spite of screwing up and setbacks.
How do you and your coworkers deal with deadlines? I love the quote by Douglas Adams
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
If it is any consolation, the UK’s HS2 high-speed rail project has missed its original deadline which was seven years ago!
At work, it always pays off to give advance warning of missing a deadline and promise it by a more realistic date. When your managees do that you should give them some credit. That is so much better than not delivering the goods when the whistle goes.
I always encouraged staff to be transparent about the challenges they had to face. Showing my gratitude was also a great motivator and really encouraged them to build grit and tenacity.
The overall goal must be to avoid burnout. Figures from 2018 show that an enormous 57% of workers are experiencing burnout. That figure is far too high!
By following the 7 hacks above, we can fairly easily spot a person’s character and overall competence in the workplace.
What about yourself? What sort of person are you? If you are brave enough, you can always take Dr.Phil’s quiz and find out. Good luck!