“Nice” is out; “Accomodating” is in

Just saw a great little article by Kate Lorenz, editor of CareerBuilder.com. She talks about the pitfalls of the “Nice”-ness syndrome. Apparently there is a new study . . . (one every day, it seems!)–at any rate, it indicates that many behaviors considered “nice” are actually career killers.

Now before you get your back up–let me explain. First of all, you should browse over to the article yourself.

The upshot is that simply taking the fall for others’ mistakes without insisting on appropriate readjustments of schedules and expectations, working without breaks until you become frazzled and inefficient and otherwise taking all the ‘grunt’ work from others, will simply get your fired.

Implicit in the article is that what you need to do is adopt a new paradigm: accommodation. The point is that you are certainly going to help others out if they err, you can certainly take on new projects even when busy–but you have to do it with the appropriate management mindset.

What is that? Hard to define, but my wife came up with a great new trigger-phrase: “project-manager mind”. The idea is that if you are constantly thinking about your work and your place in the organization as one part of a whole, you can start making decisions in light of what is best for everyone–including yourself.

For example, if you saw a co-worker taking on ONLY thankless tasks, what would you advise him/her? Obvious when you look at it that way, huh? Similarly, if you saw a co-worker taking on multiple extra tasks when s/he is already swamped, would you pat them on the back, or tell them to grow up and start saying “sorry, no”? Again, obvious.

If you can see this as a failing in others, start seeing it as something to root out of your own suite of office habits.

Remember, being polite and considerate and light-hearted and optimistic (often attributes included in the dubious penumbra of “nice”) doesn’t mean you have to be self-sacrificing, boot-licking, irrational and inefficient. Something to think about.

Pete Smith, Esq.
Managing Director
BCG Attorney Search – San Francisco

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