This is an continuation in my exec coaching experience.  If you have been reading along great, if not, here is some additional posts for background:

post #1: My decision to embark with an executive coach
post #2: My first session
post #3: The first part of the 360 review (the good part)

Since the first part of my feedback, I have actually received the rest of the 360, however, I won’t be posting the full document just yet. However, I wrote a blog post with my initial reaction that I will publish with it in the future (yay, something to look forward to!).

The plan is to go through each piece of feedback (every single bullet point) and talk about why someone may have said that and what I can do to handle myself and behave differently in the future.  This is going to take the next few sessions, and then once we have gone through it all, I am going to present an action plan to everyone who provided my feedback (and to be honest, I can’t wait for this part – when I read the feedback I seriously wanted to write a big apology to everyone!).

We did start going through the feedback though, and I had one really big revelation I want to share with all of you!

Working Relationships – what do you value?

First, a little background about me.

For those of you who know me well, know that I am not really much of a people person.  I hope that I am one day, but part of me is still that dorky developer who is far more comfortable with a computer than a person.  Since I am not naturally good at interacting with people, I tend to avoid it.  And at work, I focus on work.

It is not uncommon for me to walk into someone’s office with a list of things to talk about go through each item and then walk out.  There are no pleasantries, no outside work conversation, etc.  I don’t do that because I don’t care – I do that because it is natural for me to focus on work while I am at work and use people’s time efficiently.  And I actually think this is very common for people (who like me) were misfits while growing up and found so much satisfaction and reward on what I could accomplish.  I love goals.  Getting things done is what drives me and makes me happy.

And more importantly, what I value when it comes to work isn’t pleasantries, or friendships – it is purely on what do you get done and how you do it.  That is it.  I value results and what people accomplish.

But there is a whole other type of person.

The one that values who you are.

They care about the personal relationship.  They want to know how you were last weekend, and want to be asked about their feelings background.  This is important to them.  And often times these are the ones we might call a “people person”.

For these people, I seem to come off as “not very fun”, “critical”, “a perfectionist”, or “needing to build personal relationships” (all quotes from my review).  And they are right in some ways – I am not interacting or valuing those interactions the same way that they do – I am entirely focused on efficient communication and results.

And of course there aren’t just two types of people.  In many ways this is a spectrum.

So what does this mean to you?

If you are like me, then you may need to make some changes to level up on your communication skills.  So here are the steps I am taking:

  1. Try to figure out your values.  Do you like getting things done?  Or is it really important to you to have close relationships with your coworkers? How important are each of these?  Would you be happy working somewhere with all your friends, or would you rather build and create great things (and of course most of us want to do both, but which of these matter more to you)?
  2. Understand that the people on your team may be different.  Try to figure out where on the spectrum people fall.  You should be able to figure this out by how they communicate with you.  When they come by your desk do they start with “hey, how are you doing?”, or do they just launch into the topic “I came by to follow up on that project”?
  3. Tailor your communication accordingly. Try to be more perceptive of the overall interaction, and if needed, tailor your responses and questions to be more similar to their approach.

So for me, 3 means that I need to spend more time building relationships with people in my office.  Instead of just walking into someone’s office and rattling off a list of items to discuss – take the time to actually notice them.  How are they feeling?  What is happening with them, besides the things on my list?  Is there something they want to talk about?  Asking them questions and trying to connect on something other than my to do list.  This also means that building relationships and friendships doing non-work things – like going somewhere or talking about non-work topics (as this was a specific suggestion from my review).

The punchline: I have to learn how to make emotional connections with people; to learn to value not just what they do, but who they are.


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