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Each of us has most likely experienced both kindness and cruelty in the workplace. Perhaps a co-worker made you feel special on your birthday by gifting you something you love or your boss badmouthed you even after you diligently finished a project.

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We spend a lot of time at work and for better or worse, our co-workers become an integral part of our day-to-day lives and even our career success. We also know how powerful words can be, especially words of praise or wisdom.

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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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