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Winning at Working


Nan Russell

Jul 22, 2015

Getting Past the Hurdles

One of my work favorites is crossing items off my to-do list. At the end of the day, it feels great to know you've made progress, resolved a problem, dealt with a difficult challenge, or accomplished an objective. Unfortunately, too often we find ourselves without those feelings. Instead, frustration, bureaucracy, and unresponsiveness have thwarted our well-being.

The person you've been waiting to get an answer from doesn't respond, yet again; the bureaucratic maze to find the right person feels like "running the gauntlet;" approval of the last project element is stuck in organizational politics; or the quick input you need from another department gets pushed aside by "more important" priorities.

But, people who are winning at working get results despite work-hurdles. Whether it's finishing an important task sidetracked by an unresponsive coworker, or maneuvering through company politics and persistent run-arounds, they have work-result agility. They've learned and practiced the skills needed to get past the hurdles causing others to slow, fall, or give up. Here are three of their essentials:

  1. They build trusted relationships. They understand maneuvering hurdles is easiest when they have trusted relationships, and they do. They focus on people as individuals, building relationships by noticing, respecting, and authentically appreciating someone else's contribution to the whole. Successful relationships require effort, and people who are winning at working build their relationships with trust. It's these relationships that enable them to clear hurdles and get results when others can't.

  2. They operate with dependable company politics. For people who are winning at working, their actions demonstrate behavioral integrity, ethics, and best-self-behaviors. Operating with a well-intentioned style, they're people others know they can depend on. These are the people who have an unspoken commitment to the bigger team, initiative, or community, demonstrated by their consistent beyond-self-interest actions. It's that orientation that encourages others to help them. People help people who help them.

  3. They don't give up. The animated short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, won an Oscar in 2012. When asked what the biggest challenge was in making the film, one of the co-winners answered, "Not giving up." It's the same at work. People who are winning at working and who get consistent results don't achieve them because they give up when the hurdles get higher.

It's said that hurdle jumping is the most technically difficult form of running. It's often the most difficult form of work, too. People who are winning at working understand that in order to get great results, they must hone the skills that enable them to get past the hurdles. That includes building great relationships, operating with trust, applying dependable politics, and using thoughtful persistence.

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