Chapter twenty, “Be Happy”, talked about the importance of a pleasant and cheerful demeanour at work. While most people generally agree with the concept, it often raises a very legitimate concern. To paraphrase the collective sentiment: “I am naturally cheerful person, but, despite excellent annual reviews, I have lost out on promotions to individuals who don’t care about being happy, or creating a positive environment. Even though I’m excelling at what I do, I have been accused of not taking my job seriously.”
It is an unfortunate reality that some people mistake a sour disposition with being good at what one does. And there’s no question that some people make misguided promotion decisions because someone’s poor attitude or lack of interpersonal skills make them appear ‘serious.’ Here’s a note to all managers: If you ever find yourself in a position of having to promote someone, remember the profound words of George Banks in the classic story of Mary Poppins: “Never confuse efficiency with a liver complaint.” If you are hiring someone who will be in a position of leading others, it’s particularly important that the individual has the capacity to connect with and positively motivate their team.
If you find yourself in a position where you are demonstrably good at what you do, but your cheerful and outgoing personality seems to be holding you back, here are a few things you can do:
1. Talk with your boss. Let him (her) know that, while you may not take yourself that seriously, you do take your work extremely seriously. Remind him of your track record.
2. Don’t be afraid to let your dark side show every now and then when someone has not performed up to your standard. The most effective managers you will ever meet are the ones who are your biggest cheerleaders when you are performing well, but aren’t afraid to take corrective action when you aren’t pulling your weight.
3. Verbalize your standards. Make sure everyone know what’s important to you.
4. Make a point to celebrate your successes at work. You don’t want to come across as boastful, of course, but you also want everyone to be aware of your contributions. Try displaying more enthusiasm at the successful completion of a task or project. It demonstrates to everyone that you are motivated to succeed.