Consider two people with contrasting personalities: one person who is willing to help others, with a mindset to finding solutions to day-to-day business issues, able to provide input outside of her area of expertise. The other is reluctant to volunteer help, has a mindset fixed upon her stated responsibilities, and is habituated to letting others handle all decision-making.
Which person would you rather hire for your team?
While both people may be bright, capable, and satisfied with the challenges of their job, experience has shown me that employers are happier with the first type of person who will willingly lend herself to new tasks, whereas the second may do so only grudgingly.
Let me share two examples of candidates I have encountered.
Company A. A few years ago, a manager learned of ward garbage collection changes that were being announced in the news. The changes would affect the internal garbage collection procedures at the company, and he brought the subject up at an informal meeting. The question was directed to the administrative assistant of another manager, as she was the only Japanese speaker present. It was assumed that if anyone in the office had knowledge of the scheduled changes, she would be the most likely person. However, she expressed surprise and resentment at being asked. Living outside of Tokyo, she hadn’t heard about the changes, and she made it clear that she felt her work was more important than handling garbage-related matters.
Company B. The country manager of a newly-established company to Japan made his first hire: his executive assistant/office manager. She realized on the first morning of operations that the office did not have basic office supplies. Immediately, and without being asked, she
went to an office supplies store and purchased—out of her own pocket—writing pads, staplers, pens, etc. It was only weeks later that her new boss realized that she had gone to the trouble of supplying the office with its basic stationery needs. (He immediately reimbursed her the full amount.)
Her “always-on” attention to every small detail that may have an impact upon her employer was what made her such a valuable asset to her manager. So valuable that, three years later, when moving overseas to take on a new leadership position, he tried to convince her to move with him as his executive assistant. The situation at Company A was quite different. That assistant’s sense of self-importance, unwillingness to work with others, and the resultant lack of communication/cooperation efforts contributed to her termination very soon afterwards. And unfortunately, she may never realize that her career success will remain limited due largely to her fundamental interpersonal skills.
Every worker has a fundamental personality, molded further by years of life experience, parenting, customer service employ, and peer influence. Subjective qualities that make for a “good” personality can be learned on the job.....but it takes time. And employers are willing to wait and to select from amongst several candidates to find the person who truly has the desired qualities.
As an exercise, think about every person you’ve ever worked closely with that you admired. What was it about those people that you found so positive? And, if given the chance again, would you join their team (or bring them onto yours)? Conversely, do you think they would bring YOU onto their team?
If not, WHY not?—THAT last question will help you consider what areas of your personality or work habits you may need to work on.