Slaughterhouse 90210, Maris Kreizman

3 Tips: How to Kill it at Work

I’m not technical. I don’t have any specialized skills. There’s no real reason why I should be successful, and yet I’ve been helping lead and grow tech companies for 7 years.

It all comes down to one simple concept: no matter what you think your job is, your job is to make people feel important.

  1. Don’t disagree with people in email chains, especially email chains with more than one person. If you think someone is wrong approach them in person and discuss the issue, then let them craft a new email to the group with an update.

This seems so small, so minor, but it has major consequences. Everyone wants to feel important all of the time, no matter their position in the company, on a project, etc. Most people agree with this, but their actions are not in line with it.

I mention the email chain example because I see it happen a lot, and it leads to email chain explosion, eventually a meeting or many meetings, and it doesn’t develop positive communication among people (on the same team or across teams). The person you disagree with will not feel good, will not feel important and your job is to make people feel important so. Don’t do it.

2. Don’t react negatively. You can and should passionately agree or disagree, and there will be opportunity to do that the right way, but make sure your reaction to someone’s idea, strategy, decision, work, etc is not negative.

  • To start discussion around your concerns, begin with a positive or neutral comment, for example: “A lot of work has gone into considering the user experience in this design, to take this to the next level we should consider x (our target age group; options that meet the same needs but require less engineering time; how competitors have managed this issue, etc.)
  • You can disagree with anything and spark productive discussion, move the conversation to a place where you can passionately explain why something will or won’t work if you do it the right way. I can give generic examples, but it’s up to you to consider how to treat the people you’re working with the best way possible. If you shoot down ideas people will not be excited to work with you, and will not be as open to your ideas. If you do your job, which is to ALWAYS make people feel important, you will kill it at work.

3. Recognize People. You might think you’re recognizing people, providing positive feedback and support, but you are not doing this enough. Whether you’re a leader or on an individual contributor on a team, you’re not doing this enough. None of us are.

People want to be recognized. I don’t mean, “Good job!” or “Great work!” That is easy to do and at times you should do that, but recognition means you genuinely listen and appreciate.

I recently had a conversation with a software engineer/leader who’s been pulled into management lately because she’s amazing with people, but she’s considering leaving her company. Her friends/fellow software engineers are doing awesome technical things that she no longer has time to do and are getting a ton of appreciation. She’s disappointed because she’s been called upon for other talents that are not valued. They are needed, she’s been pulled this way for a reason, but she feels unseen, unappreciated, may as well halt the leadership path and go back to being a star.

Everyone wants to feel important. Listen to people, ask about their challenges, their tactics, how they managed to get 5 people with different priorities to collaborate on a project. Or whatever it is. Ask. Listen. Wait for the magical, “Wow, that’s incredible moment!” (It will come. Please don’t ever force a reaction. It will be awkward, and apparent, and worse than not showing any appreciation).

If you are genuinely curious, interested in people, and passionate about how people do things this will come naturally. No matter what your job is, your job is to make people feel important. Not specific people. All people you interact with. Also note that it doesn’t matter where appreciation comes from (above you or below you in a company), the person you are recognizing will revel in it and may just decide not to go home and job search that night, and may later think of you first when it comes time to fill a new role.

Reading, writing, learning, passion. Be passionate. Happiness is a thing we achieve through serious intention. Founder at LessonsUp, www.lessonsup.com