What Great Co-workers Do!

Filed in HIRING ARTICLES, MUNICIPALITY by on July 30, 2018


“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” 
                                                                                                                                          Abraham Lincoln

For some time I have been aware of a TV program called “What Not to Wear” … maybe you’ve seen it? Every now and again I pass it while channel surfing … if you are not familiar, the gist of it is this: they give helpful advice to people about dressing for success and about wearing age appropriate and body-type-appropriate clothing … seems like a good idea, right?

So, it gave me the idea to give our Municipal Recruiting Report readers something similar, but in the way of people advice … so, instead of “What Not to Wear” I am calling it “What Not to Do”… I have included 8 very practical observations, plus after each “What Not to Do” I am offering some common sense “What to Do” advice … examples of behaviors worth copying.

“Common sense is not so common!” Voltaire

So, whether you are hiring for your municipality and you want to attract great coworkers, or you simply want to get ahead in life, here goes:

  1. Do not steal another person’s good ideas! 

Perhaps you know people like this guy – He never came across an idea he wouldn’t steal. When a staff member, a co-worker, a supplier, someone, anyone has a really good idea – a fabulous idea – suddenly, it’s HIS idea! If he uses it once, people will give him funny looks. Twice, and resentment simmers. Three times, and he’s out! No one will ever share a good idea with him again!

What to do: Great co-workers will always do exactly the opposite! They give away their ideas – they want others to look good. They give us ideas that we can run with. When it happens this way, everyone feels better, work harder … the sense of purpose is greater, and everyone is more likely to be successful.

  1. Do not take the credit for another’s contribution. 

This reminds me of the story of the guy who the last time he stole another person’s good idea, he was almost injured trying to pat himself on the back! Don’t you just hate it when co-workers are forever plotting, scheming… forever trying to make themselves look better at someone else’s expense! Their thinking must be, “if I look good and you look bad, I’ll be further ahead!”

What to do: Great co-workers just seem to know instinctively that helping make the other guy look good is how it should be – “more blessed to give than to receive,” the Bible says. These people actually enjoy seeing others get recognition and praise … they like to let others take the credit – because it means everybody wins!

  1. Do not always look for a way to make it about you!

Perhaps today’s social media has made people totally self-interested.  According to Narcissus, an old Greek mythological character, “I am amazing. Everyone knows this.” Social media creates egotists and narcissists by leading the user to engage into more indulgent or impulsive behavior.  Journal of Consumer Research

It reminds of the story about the guy who after regaling everyone with stories about himself, drew a deep breath and said, “Well, never mind me – what do you think of me?”  You laugh, but it’s no laughing matter!

Isn’t it a pain working with people who think the whole world revolves around them?  They are at the centre of every story and the victim or the hero of every negative or positive event. Their story is always better than your story. No matter what’s happening to the other guy, she always has a way of making it about her.

What to do: Great co-workers are the ones who almost always put the other guy first … their mission in life seems to be one of improving life for others. Unselfishness means putting others’ needs above our own instead of always acting in our own interest. Acting selflessly isn’t easy, but the more we practice, the better we’ll get at being kind and generous more often. When we make a habit of taking action to help others feel good and make the world a better place, we’ll see that being selfless can actually make us happier.

  1. Do not always see the glass as half empty.

Your city lands a major development, but all she can think about is how hard it will be to issue all those building permits. You hire a superstar planner, but all she can think about is how much you have to pay him. Your municipality teams up with a neighbouring town, but all she can think about is the control she’ll lose.

What to do: Great co-workers “get it” … every big goal is accomplished one small step at a time. They correctly feel every step is cause for celebration. Plus, they have a knack for seeing the glass half full. They know the best is yet to come … and that one just has to be willing to look for it. And by looking, they spread a sense of optimism and enthusiasm … a commodity often in short supply.

  1. Do not think with your mouth. 

Have you ever seen someone pound his fist on the table because he thought his instructions had not been followed? I have. Have you ever seen someone tear a strip off an employee for a mistake and it turns out that person didn’t make? I have.

Have you ever noticed as someone acts without thinking … and forever confirms a negative opinion of her? I have.

What to do: Great co-workers react instantly and positively to good news. They are the first to offer recognition, congratulations, and praise. But they are thoughtful, reflective, and slow to decide what to do. They consider the best way to speak and act when problems arise or when mistakes are made. They know that the way we talk and the words we use have both positive and negative consequences when we interact … they do everything possible to get it right.

“A whole forest can be set ablaze by a tiny spark of fire, and the tongue is as dangerous as any fire …” J.B. Phillips

  1. Do not prevent others from finishing their sentence.

When people like this interrupt, what they are really saying is, “I don’t care what you think, how you feel or what you are saying. I’m only listening so I can find a good place to jump in and say what I want to say.”

Just consider the side effects of such behaviors. Not only is it rude, but it actually makes the other guy unconsciously feel rushed, nervous, and annoyed; both your pulses speed up, which can cause irritability and a defensive tone to erupt.

 What to do: Great co-workers listen more than they talk. What’s that old saying? Ah, yes, “That’s why God gave us two ears and one mouth … we are meant to listen twice as much as we talk!” The people you love to work with allow others to finish their thoughts before chiming in. They ask questions not to show their own brilliance, but to gain a better understanding of our point of view. They make us feel valued and respected … and we love them for it.

  1. Do not be an emotional Vampire!

Everyone likes praise. But some really need praise. They are so needy that they crave constant validation. They have a tendency to drain the emotional energy out of everyone they come in contact with. This type of person needs constant attention. They need constant validation- for others to recognize that they are smart, capable, in charge and successful. In fact, smarter, more capable, and more successful than everyone else.

What to do: Great co-workers don’t care about external validation. They do care about feeling good about themselves, but they are self-validating. They know who they are and they are okay with what they see in the mirror.

Seeking self-worth inside themselves allows them to spend all their energy encouraging, recognizing, and validating other people … which makes them truly great to work with. They are great friends too!

  1. Do not be a gossip

It’s hard for any of us to resist getting the inside scoop.

We all like to be in the know. Digging into the reasons behind someone’s thinking, why they act a certain way, the back story behind someone’s hidden agenda, much less whether Bill from Roads is really dating Judy from Payroll … those are hard-to-resist conversations.

Unfortunately, if someone will gossip with you, you can be darn sure that she is gossiping about you with others. When you realize this, suddenly, gossip isn’t so much fun anymore.

Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”                                         Will Rogers

 What to do: Great co-workers are like my grandfather who, when he encountered gossip, would politely turn his back and walk away. They aren’t the least bit worried about losing the gossiper’s “respect” … because gossipers don’t respect them anyway. They know that gossip almost always complicates lives rather than simplifying them. They’re just being genuine … and we all love being around genuine people.

Whether it’s being a CAO, running a department or simply building a successful career in municipal government people rarely do anything worthwhile on their own. So, we don’t just want to work with great people we NEED to work with great people.

Besides that, it’s a lot more fun to work with great people; having truly great people to work with is really the only way we will ever accomplish anything worthwhile and of any lasting value

D, Bruce Malcolm
Managing Partner
1-888-447-5910 ext. 727 Bruce@ravenhillgroup.com

Bruce and his team have successfully completed dozens and dozens of municipal searches across Canada over the past 12 years.

Assignments have covered senior management positions including: CAO, Town Manager, Director of Corporate Services, Director of Finance, Director of Engineering, Director of Planning, Director of Human Resources, Manager of Recreation, Manager Water Wastewater, Manager Roads, to name a few.

Bruce Malcolm

About the Author ()

Bruce's background includes 30+ years of human resource management experience covering all aspects of HR administration with a clear specialty in team building and recruiting. He created and developed the concept of “Ethical Head-Hunting™”. Bruce began his recruiting career in 1971 with Prudential Assurance.

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