Here’s what a great workplace looks like – high performance teams

E. Forrest Christian Managing, Motivation Leave a Comment

What does a great workplace look like? Walter Ulmer took a stab at defining it over 25 years ago. He saw that there was a big difference between regular teams and high performance teams, one where everyone took it to the next level. And what is the essence of a “supportive” climate that promotes esprit and gives birth to “high …

Gov. Martin Henry Glynn with his secretary, Frank Tierney ca. 1913, By Bain News Service via Library of Congress

The Power of Mentoring (And Why You Didn’t Get It)

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Change, Motivation, Overachievers, Underachievers 4 Comments

[updated 2013 August 29] Did you ever think that the reason why you didn’t get a mentor was that it was almost impossible to mentor you? A good mentoring relationship requires you to share a growth trajectory in how you handle complexity. Most people’s capacity for handling complex work issues increases over time along predictable paths once in their 20s. …

Marine Sgt. at New Orleans, La. By Howard R.Hollem. Library of Congress collection via Flickr.

Don’t Think You’re Smart If You Want To Succeed

E. Forrest Christian happiness, Motivation 5 Comments

One of the remarkable things that Carol Dweck showed is that students who thought that they succeeded because they were smart did more poorly in new tasks. They wouldn’t ask for help because they were supposed to be able to figure it out themselves, or perhaps because they thought that if they asked for help they would be shown as not being smart.

Of course, this can be mixed with a DIY attitude, to make it even worse. I’ll chime in here with a personal story: when I was in college, I wouldn’t go to the math profs’ office hours because I somehow believed that I shouldn’t ask for help. It could have been a result of believing I succeeded because I was smart. It was at least also a part of “don’t ask for help” that was a cultural thing with my family. Compound the latter with the former and you get someone who could have done much better in differential equations than he did. (It didn’t help that I really don’t have a strong aptitude for mathematical thinking, arriving at most of my conclusions through intuition and guesswork.)

So internally you need to think that you succeed because of effort.

Lots of people ignore this advice. This leaves them open to being manipulated by you to your advantage, as long as you are willing to not be the smartest person in the room.