Seeing beyond

How often do you ask your colleague what s/he does in her/his out-out-work hours? How often do you ask about their development interests?

Some people naturally ask and stay curious about the lives of colleagues, friends and acquaintances. And some companies cater for this curiosity in team building events and regular team meetings. But, I must admit, looking back at my work experience, the information I get through my coaching clients, and the feedback I get personally from my general environment, I have the impression that the majority don’t have time or are not used to thinking and seeing beyond the first image they get of a person.

Having a limited view of a person’s competences, strengths and interests may hinder good talent management. I remember an example of the opposite about 6 years ago when a manager I know took a “risk” and brought a secretary into a communications role. It was based on her interests and the fact that she did a good job. This manager took the time to talk with the employee and think out of the box and label “secretary” when she voiced the wish to move on. I remember the look on the manager’s face when he shared with the rest of the team; “it’s like seeing a flower going into full bloom!” Because he had the capacity to look beyond and look at the whole person, he got a very talented communications advisor.

As a coach I have heard several clients say that the feedback they get is either a limited part of who they are or it may be plain wrong because people only see the mask and not the person behind the mask. This can be quite frustrating; it feels like you are put into a box that is not yours. People see a snapshot of who you are and then come to the conclusion that “this is it”.  I see some cases where this is a strong blocker for development, because an individual has been told so many times that he is “cold” and therefore not suited for a job where he helps people. Actually, the person is just shy, and his warmth comes out in one-to-one relations.

Another example is meeting people who do not master your language fluently. Your impression may be; “he doesn’t speak much”, “she is impolite”, “she has no opinions” or “gosh, he uses a lot of words to get to the point”. All of this may be due to lack of language skills. Ask them to say a few words in their mother tongue and you will see more of their personality!

Having the capacity to see beyond is helpful when you are a manager, a recruiter, an HR professional or any kind of advisor. Actually, when I think of it, it is useful to anyone, any time. When you show interest in someone else, you may notice that they light up, that they are happy that someone cares enough to ask about their opinion or their input or experience or wishes. Being curious about someone may change the energy in that relationship;  you may find that your colleague, boss, employee, mother/father-in-law, brother/sister, etc etc become “easier” to collaborate with if you show them some interest. Everyone can work up the curiosity-muscle, just stay curious about people – just ask, ask, ask!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tags: , , , ,