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NOTE: This is a book excerpt with minor edits from Mandatory Greatness: The 12 Laws Of Driving Exceptional Performance by J.T. O'Donnell and Dale Dauten. Never trust a manager who loves everything you do. Next, she gave me an example of what can happen when you get a boss who has nothing to offer but compliments. (Think about that last phrase: nothing to offer but compliments. Slap.) She’d met a Steve Gavatorta, who’s now a speaker and sales trainer, but who was reminiscing about his days as a young sales guy. He went from college to one of the giant consumer products companies, selling to retailers. Although he was a solid prospect as a sales guy, his boss didn’t know what to do with him, so Gavatorta struggled, untrained and un-led. Because the boss was what Gavatorta called “an attaboy manager,” it never occurred to him how poorly he was doing. Then, one day, he accidentally got the truth. Another manager, not his boss, went with him on his rounds one day and wrote up a summary of woeful impressions, then sent it to Gavatorta by mistake. Reading that report, his first real analysis of his performance, and unaccustomed to taking criticism as a compliment, Gavatorta was shell-shocked. He said that after reading the report, he had to go lie down, and once he did, he began thinking, “This is my first job and I’m going to get fired. I’ll go back home a failure, and go to work in my father’s produce shop. This is the lowest day of my life.” But rather than crawl home, he decided to take a shot at changing companies, even taking the odd step of asking an executive at his current employer to write a recommendation. That executive agreed, but then made a call and got Gavatorta transferred – to work for the man who’d written the scathing report. Punishment? Just the opposite. The new manager was a teacher/coach, one who taught Gavatorta to sell and about whom he says, “He turned my career around in a matter of months and I worked for the company another 10 years. He taught me the fundamentals – he passed a skill set to me that I still use and teach to others.” Yvonne summed up that story by saying, “Notice that the turnaround happened on what he thought was the worst day of his life. It was actually the best day of his career, because he’d found a boss who was wiling and able to tell him what he was doing wrong and how to fix it.” I wondered aloud how his first boss, the lousy one, had gotten in that position and stayed there. But Yvonne didn’t share my doubt, shrugging it off. “What happens is that these bosses let people fail, blame the employee, and hire someone else. But leadership is not about getting rid of employees -- any idiot can throw away assets -- but about making them better, about teaching and training and even about saving them. Leadership is creating a better future for the company by creating better employees.” Mandatory Greatness is presented as a conversation between a high-powered business coach, Yvonne Wolfe (described as having “skirts of steel”), and a young manager who won a day of her coaching in a charity raffle. She observes him in his work, then offers a stark and startling analysis of him and his approach to his job: By imitating other managers he is making himself “a commodity product” destined for “inadvertent mediocrity.” She then teaches him to remake himself into a highly-valued teammate and a true leader using The 12 Laws of Driving Exceptional Performance.

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Watch this special presentation on these 12 Laws of Driving Exceptional Performance. Presenters: J.T. O'Donnell and Dale Dauten, authors of Mandatory Greatness: The 12 Laws Of Driving Exceptional Performance.   WATCH NOW ►   Photo Credit: Shutterstock
NOTE: This is a book excerpt with minor edits from Mandatory Greatness: The 12 Laws Of Driving Exceptional Performance by J.T. O'Donnell and Dale Dauten. Criticism is a compliment. What is the absolute easiest response to an employee’s work? The one thing that they always agree with and takes the least time to prepare and the least follow-up? It’s ‘Great work.’ You say that to someone and they never disagree, never argue, never say, ‘What do you mean?’ and never make excuses or offer explanations. It’s fast and easy and that’s why it’s overdone. Add in those other things we talked about, like believing in positive reinforcement and being liked, and you have the perfect formula for happy mediocrity. On the other hand, when you take the time to criticize, THAT’S the real compliment. Why? Think of the underlying message you’re sending to the person you’re talking to:
  • I think enough of you that I’m willing to take my time to truly analyze your work and really pay attention.
  • I believe you can get better, that I see you as improving and growing in your work and career.
  • I care about you and your contribution to the team.
Those are real compliments and you know they are real because you are going to back them up with genuine thought, attention and effort. The other compliments, the ‘great work’ ones, are easy and you can’t be sure they’re true because they are unbacked, no gold in them, just words. Now, flip it, and let’s consider the underlying message from the boss who always praises everything an employee does. It either means that such a boss…
  • Doesn’t care enough to take the time and attention to help the employee improve, or
  • Is too wimpy or self-centered to offer help, or
  • Doesn’t know how to help the person improve.”
Mandatory Greatness is presented as a conversation between a high-powered business coach, Yvonne Wolfe (described as having “skirts of steel”), and a young manager who won a day of her coaching in a charity raffle. She observes him in his work, then offers a stark and startling analysis of him and his approach to his job: By imitating other managers he is making himself “a commodity product” destined for “inadvertent mediocrity.” She then teaches him to remake himself into a highly-valued teammate and a true leader using The 12 Laws of Driving Exceptional Performance.

Watch This Webinar!

Watch this special presentation on these 12 Laws of Driving Exceptional Performance. Presenters: J.T. O'Donnell and Dale Dauten, authors of Mandatory Greatness: The 12 Laws Of Driving Exceptional Performance.   WATCH NOW ►   Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Like anyone else, I'm sure there are times you'd like to control your boss. That way, you could ensure you'd get what you want (at the very least, never be considered for a layoff). Related: How To Break Up With Your Boss Without Burning Bridges Well good news, there are things you can do to build a relationship with your manager that will give you some power. Here are 10 tips to help you:

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I posted the compliment challenge last week - here's my own response to it... She was pure evil at work. No, really, I mean it. I swear she's the world's most evil co-worker. There is but one word to describe her impact on everything she came in contact with: toxic. Here's the evidence to support it: 1) I never heard her say ANYTHING nice. i.e. Upon hearing a co-worker's mom died after a long, painful prolonged illness, she responded "Great, as if I don't have enough to do, now I'll be doing his job all this week too, if not longer." 2) She would spin stories out of innocent situations to make others look bad. A co-worker took an unexpected sick day. She convinced our manager the co-worker was interviewing for a new job, claiming she had been acting funny the day before at work and that she had seen her whispering on the phone. She even went so far as to find the co-worker's resume on-line. The co-worker returned the next day and was grilled by our manager until she finally admitted she had taken a sick day because she had found out her fiancee had been cheating on her with her best friend. She had taken the day to move out of the apartment they shared. I could cite many more examples, but it only gets me angry, and the point of this exercise is to put my emotions in check and find a way to connect with someone I don't like. So, here is my compliment: You were always consistent and reliable in your work. I could count on you to complete a task on time and without error - and you always needed minimal information or guidance to get it done. It was nice not to have to worry about that piece of the business because it allowed me to get more work done. Whew! I'm glad that's over. But saying it gets me thinking... Over the years, I've trained myself to remember that people like that usually have had some hard times in their life that have made them that way. I also try to keep in mind that a person who is that negative lives a really sad life in their head. On the rare days that I feel grumpy (for those who don't know, I'm an annoying optimist), I can feel the negativity sucking the life out of me. So, I can't imagine being like that all the time! Looking back, I see my former evil co-worker as a test to my ability to be in control of my thoughts. She was a constant reminder of why I wanted to stay positive. So, here's one more compliment... Thanks for showcasing the affects of being evil in the office. You showed me the kind of person I would NEVER want to be, nor would EVER hire for my own company. I even have a set of interview questions I use specifically to ensure employees have the right mindset. Wow - I guess evil in the workplace has its value too. Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles: Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Career QuestionBack in 2008, I tweeted that I was giving out compliments for FREE – all you had to do was e-mail me. One of the first responders was Etienne over at The Happy Employee. Giving him a compliment was easy. In fact, I was able to share two specific examples of how his blog content had helped me in my consulting practice. His reaction to my compliment was very positive. Ironically, he had recently been doubting a bit as to whether or not his thoughts were cutting-edge. Thus, to get complimented on this very subject had been quite validating for him. Not to mention, it felt great knowing my compliment was helpful. The exchange with Etienne proved my point: When done right, compliments are extremely powerful. It also led to an idea. What if we decided to challenge everyone out there to give more compliments in the workplace? Here's why: 1. Compliments and appreciation are two different things. People tend to overuse appreciation and under-utilize compliments on-the-job. 2. Compliments are free, and thus, a great work perk that can be distributed by both management AND employees during economic downturns and corporate cutbacks. 3. Compliments improve relationships between two people. 4. Compliments feel good to give and receive. Etienne even suggested we take the challenge up a notch. You see, we both agreed that giving a compliment to someone you like is easy, but what if you had to give a compliment to someone you didn't like? Here's his challenge: "Imagine you have a gun to your head and MUST make a compliment to the most annoying employee you have ever met. Imagine who this person is, remember why this person was/is so annoying (and by all means, tell us about it), and then, come up with a compliment for this person. But there's a catch. The gun to your head is from the future (comes with batteries and artificial intelligence). So, if what you say is in any way cynical or dishonest, you will be disintegrated, without any hesitation or second thoughts." If you need a refresher on what it takes to give a great compliment, read this. Now, we'll ask you again: Do you have what it takes? We dare you to give it a try. Then, come post your experience and tell us all the details. Who knows? Together, we just might change more than a few workplace relationships. Or, at the very least, seriously shock some people with kindness. Sounds to me like we can't lose!