Month: May 2020

Don`t be your “label”

Have you ever failed so badly that you were labeled a “low performer” or “the one who lost a client”? Have you ever been in the wrong place, where you were labeled the outsider because you did not fit in? At some point maybe you were new in a role and you were labeled “the junior” who will fail with no doubts. 

Have you ever been given the label of being too loud, too rebel or too different?

Have you ever had a tough period in your life that impacted your work and caused you to be labeled as “not good enough”?

Have you ever disappointed someone at your workplace with a behavior that you regret now, even though at that time it was the best you could be?

Have you ever been labeled based on your behavior or results under circumstances that did or did not depend on you?

If you were in such situations or similar ones before, keep reading.

You adopted the “label”

In my leadership career, at some point I took over another manager’s position. The team was already formed and it was my first time joining a team that was already built. As I previously stated in another post, I failed. Big time! I failed so badly, that my job was put in danger and this is not even the worst part of this story. My team rejected me and each day was a nightmare. This is kind of a happy-ending story though because with a mentor that I encountered in that period and with other managers who didn`t lose faith in me, things got better.

This is not about how I handled the failure though, but rather about the label I put on myself. Yes, you read correctly. I put a label on myself. The “failure” label, the “almost got fired” label, the “not good enough” label. I could go on and on with the list of labels I put on my head at that time.

The awful thing about these labels is that I wore them in permanence. Sometimes I managed to keep them hidden, at least until the moment a new failure appeared around me. Even if we`re talking about a little failure or a low difficulty moment, the labels showed up to remind me that I was most likely going to fail. Because if I failed in the past, why not failing again? Furthermore, I was convinced that everyone else was expecting me to fail just to validate my labels. I was living under the impression that the others labeled me. Maybe they did, but I did so too. Then, how can I blame them?

label

The risk of becoming your “label”

When you wear a label you tend to act accordingly. In my case the “failure” label hunts me very often. I feel the need and the urge to prove my labels to be wrong. If something goes wrong, I feel like everyone will say: “of course she failed. She’s done it before and apparently she’s learned nothing”.

If you focus too much on these labels, you risk to become all that they represent. You are not only your failures. Learn to take into consideration your achievements as well.

You are not your “label”

We are humans. Some of us strive for perfection. But let`s be honest. We`re not perfect so failure is part of our DNA. But this does not mean that failure defines us. It doesn`t mean that if we fail, we earn a label immediately. Yes, maybe we`ll fail again. Maybe we`ll fail more than others or in different ways.

Sometimes you fail because you don`t know better, other times because you are in the wrong place or because you were not prepared. It doesn`t matter. You are not your label. Don`t let it take a toll on you. Don`t go around showing it off as if it was that award for bad movies. Do not act like a consequence of that label. Avoid becoming your label!

you are enough

How to get over your labels

  • I`m not saying that you must forget your failures. Not at all. Failures have their role in your journey. Do not forget them, but change the way you look at them: take the failures as valuable lessons;
  • Acknowledge what went wrong and make things right. Make things better.
  • Find a person you trust and talk about this. You`ll be surprised to find out that he is not perfect either.
  • Regain trust in yourself. Look how far you have gone!
  • Count your success stories too!
  • Measure your progress. You`ll be amazed of how much you have learned and how much you have grown.
  • Don`t allow others define you and your actions.

You are not your labels! Let them go. It`s time, you survivor! 😉

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Service Desk Manager: a glimpse of my journey

Some might think that being a manager is easy. You have people around you doing your job, you get to stay in meetings all day and you make reports and statistics. You delegate your tasks and the rest of the time you supervise the others doing them. It sounds like a dream job, right?

Well, let me tell you a secret: most of the time, things are not what they seem. When you are the manager of a service desk team, let’s say it is kind of a challenge. I said “service desk manager” because I want to share from my own experience on this role. Maybe in other areas the things are similar, but here I want to share some steps from my journey as a service desk manager.

When having this role, you are caught between your team, your upper management and your client.

The team

As a team manager, you need to be there for your team. You need to assure your team that you care about them, that you fight for them. That you protect them. They need to know that you will always have their back.

You need to be able to tell them what they have to do. To lead them through change. To guide them. To motivate them and keep them motivated.

You have to listen to them. To understand and defend their interests. To cheer them up even when you feel down. To stay positive even during storms or difficult times.

To put their interests first. To help them grow. To help them learn. To let them go if there is a better opportunity for them on the way.

team; team manager

To keep calm. To give them feedback with kindness. To never forget that once you were in their place. To know when they need a break.

To admit when you`re wrong. To make things better. To put people first. Always.

To handle conflicts. To encourage the team member who feels lost. To help him find its way.

To handle depression of a team member. To stay up late if one of your team members feels lonely and needs someone to talk to.

To help them build confidence in themselves. To identify their strengths and handle their weaknesses. To believe in them even when they don’t do that anymore. To be their support even when they let you down. To be happy for their achievements and to celebrate them and to help them when they fail.

This list is longer, but you get the point.

The management

The management is usually very business oriented. They care about numbers, reports, statistics, optimization.

They set their expectations and your objectives. The upper management pays your salary at the end of the month. They make the rules. Sometimes they are inflexible and all they want are results, no matter the costs, the consequences or the measures. Sometimes they don`t present the big picture. Other times they give to many details. With them, it’s mostly corporate political games and they need you to be politically correct. By the way, I hate this “politically correct” thing. For me, it’s just a diplomatic way to tell a lie or to hide things or to say hurtful truths wrapped in beautiful words.

If you are lucky, you meet some good managers during your journey. I was lucky enough to meet one who became my mentor and I learned a lot from him. But about this I`ll tell you another time.

The client

client, service desk client

What the client needs from you is to keep his users happy, to propose innovations and to find solutions. He wants you to keep close to him, to give him visibility and to provide the expected results and more if possible. He wants you to earn his trust by keeping your word and achieving the service level agreements. He needs you to be creative, to put his needs first. He wants you to be committed, involved and at his disposal. He needs you to think out of the box, to send the report in an hour, to organize an extra project in no time and mobilize everyone to do the job.

Sometimes, the client needs you to cut costs. To optimize. To automatize. To adjust.

He needs you to be open to change and to get everyone to be on board with the changes.

The service desk manager

In this case, me. As I wrote in the beginning of this “story”, I am kind of in the middle between my team, my upper management and my client. I need to be fully aware of what each of them needs and wants and try to fulfill their expectations. Sometimes there is a conflict between what all of them want and it`s the moment when the challenge appears. Because I have to find a way to keep them in high spirits. And is not always an easy task accomplish. And sometimes you fail to do that and you lose your team. Or your client. Or even your job.

So next time when you think your manager is there only to annoy you, think twice. Next time when you have the impression that he has too much free time or he spent too much time in the lunch break, think again.

Be kind to your manager. Between the team, the upper management and the client, in various occasions he leaves apart his own needs only to keep everyone else happy.  Sometimes things are out of his control and he doesn’t have a say on some decisions that are made.

Being a service desk manager is not easy. Some days it`s harsh, complicated and frustrating. But at the end of the day, when the storm passes, it is a very rewarding job. And I love every second of it.

I have some stormy days but writing these words helped me remind myself why I`m doing this job and why I love it so much. And I am sure I`ll survive this and I`ll get out of as a better version of myself.

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15 Management Don’ts

This is a list of 15 management “don’ts” I came up with these days, after suffering a work-related disappointment.

What would you add to this list?

management don'ts
  1. Don`t assume you are always right;
  2. Don`t treat your people with disrespect;
  3. Don’t lie;
  4. Don’t think you are the smartest person in the room;
  5. Don’t believe that all your team members will react in the same way to things;
  6. Don`t look down on the people you work with;
  7. Don’t judge;
  8. Don’t forget that you are working with people who have feelings and emotions;
  9. Don’t ignore the opinions of your team members;
  10. Don’t give up on your principles and values, under any circumstances;
  11. Don’t quit;
  12. Don’t let pride to lead your actions;
  13. Don’t make people feel little so you can feel big;
  14. Don’t lose faith in people;
  15. Don’t play dirty games.

I have no doubt that the “management don’ts” list is way longer. And each experience teaches as what to do, as well as what to no to or quit doing. Which one is the first “don’t” you will integrate on your list?

To not end this reading in a negative note, here you have my “Be a leader who serves” post. It is focused more on what to do rather than what to avoid.

Be kind, listen to your team. Be honest. Be an example. Trust your people. Be humble. Be open. Be supportive.

Your team needs you to be the best version of yourself!

If you want to add “dont’ts” in the “management don’ts” list, do not hesitate to leave your thought in the comments field.

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Be a leader who serves

In my early days as a team leader, I was living under the impression that people in my team will follow me and will do what I ask them do to because I am their boss. After a while, the reality hit me and I found out the hard way that having the word “leader” in the job title doesn’t necessarily make you one.

Whilst going down, from failure to failure, I had a talk with this senior manager who told me something that upset me at that time: “as a leader, your main role is to serve your team.” I confess that it was a shock to me because this idea contradicted every single thing I imagined about the meaning of leadership. But as my methods didn’t work as expected, I decided to give it a try and this is what I learned; these are some traits of a leader who serves the people on his team:

serve

A leader who listens

Being able to listen is very important as a leader. Sometimes we tend to impose our opinions, make others listen to us and approve what we’re saying. A leader who serves should leave his/her ego apart, shouldn`t judge and should be open to listening. Most people want to be heard. And you know what? You will hear great ideas, great inputs, improvement recommendations. You will get to know your team members, to see how they work. What motivates them. You get to create bonds.

When you learn to listen properly to others, you find out more about their needs, about their dreams, about their career plans. You determine how you can serve them upon their feedback and this is a basic of a strong team work.

A leader who tells the truth, no matter what

When you are set at serving the others, lies don’t fit well. Being there for your team involves being transparent and standing for your truths and values.

Choose to be honest even if you`re afraid of people’s reactions. Sometimes telling lies seems the easy way. But as easy as it might be, it could lead to losing your team’s trust. At some point I had a situation on my team; I had to let go of one member of the team. Some voices advised me to keep it quiet, as the news could scare all the other members of the team and make them look for jobs elsewhere, ending up losing them all. What did I do? I told them the truth. I explained the situation and I assured them that their job is not in danger. And you know what? They stayed. And they appreciated the honesty.

truth; honesty

I ask for my team members to be honest. To trust me. To communicate even when bad things happen and try and find solutions together. How could I ask them all these if I don`t give them the same “treatment”?

Your team members are intelligent human beings with a great power of understanding. Try them. Be transparent. Always tell the truth. In the end, truth will always come out, so why not letting it come out from you?

No matter how bad the truth is, a lie is always worse and so is hiding the truth.

A leader who protects his team

When something bad happens or things go south, the leader who serves must face the situation head on. He/she takes responsibility and doesn’t throw anyone else under the bus. Of course, if it`s a team member the one who did wrong some measures will be taken privately and of course, with kindness. In front of upper management, client or no matter what other external part, the leader assumes and protects the team, always. The team needs to know that the leader has their backs.

A leader who sees the best in people

We are all humans, with good and not so good parts. We have moments when our worst part comes to light. Because we had a bad day. Or a difficult customer to handle. Or maybe it`s just not a good day for science. Maybe we are brilliant at some tasks, but we aren’t able to respect a deadline. A great leader sees the best in people and helps them improve the aspects that need to be worked on.

A leader who creates a good work environment

When you are set to serve others, you make sure that your team has a positive work environment. This is a place where people feel safe and comfortable. We spend a lot of time at work so we cannot afford to not make it be a good place. A good work environment is not only the physical place but the atmosphere. There is no room for tensions or conflicts. Of course when people work together, conflicts can happen but if the positive grounds are set, solutions will be found in no time.  One of my main objectives is to make my colleagues feel good at work. I want them to find something to enjoy at work and I like finding ways to make their days more pleasant at work. When people are happy they are motivated and we get to do great things together. The well-being of the team members is essential to build trust, respect, loyalty and motivation. The team members must know how important they are and what an important role they play in the team.

A leader who leads by example

When you promote a thing but you do the opposite, your credibility is lost. And I know from experience that when you lose trust, you lose everything.

When you ask your team to perform an action and you perform it the other way around, you lose respect. When you are in a leading position, people tend to look up to you. Don`t let them down!

A leader who trusts his team

As I said earlier we ask our teams to trust us but if the feeling is not mutual, it loses value. Trust your team. Empower them. There are a lot of things that they can make a lot better then you. Be there for them to support them when they need it, to serve them and to offer them the necessary to accomplish the mission, but let them be. Most importantly do and act!

trust, leader

Provide them also with information. When a problem appears put it out there and find a solution together. Don`t hide it from them, don`t assume they won`t understand or that they don`t care.

Be a leader who serves. Make the workplace a better place for your team. Be there for them. Help them learn. Support them to evolve. Get better together. Be a leader who serves!

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