Spilled M&Ms© 2 – How to Succeed in a Career By Really Trying – Character

Previously we covered the important aspects of What you do to add value to the organization and its goods and services and How you go about contributing this added value.  Now we finish up with Who is doing this.  This is you, who you Are, your Character.  Here we look specifically at the character traits that an employer looks for.

Why are they important?  Recall that Character is focused directly on the foundation level in the Behavior Framework and therefore has a direct impact on everything above it.  Character ultimately controls the behaviors that you choose (as in Games People Play), and the behaviors that others observe that will affect certain evaluations they draw.  Ultimately, these behaviors and how they are perceived will form the additional currents, forces, turbulence, and opportunities that will impact the direction your career takes, as well as your life and relationships.

Character in the Behavior Framework

Character in the Behavior Framework

As an employer, I want to know that when you are working without direct supervision (and assuming this is who you really Are) you will Do the right thing for the right reasons on your own.  With respect to added value and the health of the organization, I want to know that I can turn around and deal with the larger issues and problems on my plate and know that routinely delegated things are properly taken care of behind my back.  For an analogy, if I am trying to storm a hill, I don’t want to turn around and find the enemy (or an unexpected surprise) at my back.

I will be looking to see how Character surfaces in your behaviors (+∑, 0∑, or -∑) when you are managing up (to me, other management, and external customers), how it shows when you manage horizontally (with peers, team members, and across functional lines), as well as how it shows when you manage down to those lower in the organization than you.  All of these are an indication of how you are fitting into and working constructively within the organization’s (and department’s) culture.

Our Professed Behaviors, I think, are typically based on our taken for granted understanding of our five to ten primary Principles, but our Practiced Behaviors are often driven by many of the other underlying 418 values and 417 character traits (Sleepers”).  It is your Practiced Behavior that I am really interested in (to supplement your Performance based on Competence), for the health of the organization.

Based upon personal experience and contemporary surveys (1, 2, 3) of multiple employers, among the more important Character traits are the following, not in any particular order:

Ethics:  Does your behavior indicate that you a) possess commonly accepted (professed by society) moral principles and that b) you put them into practice?   Included here would be honesty and trustworthiness, for example.  These are the principles that govern how you interact with others in the organization: customers (external and internal), co-workers, and stakeholders.

Professionalism:  Do you understand and follow respected and commonly accepted means of practicing your professional skill, including striving for excellence?

Passion, Work Ethic:  Are you enthusiastic about what you are doing?  Do you press forward to get things done?

Intellectual Curiosity:  Are you a continuous learner, not only for the benefit of customers and the organization, but to keep yourself at the top of your game?

Confidence:  Are you confident in your strengths and skills and your ability to quickly learn additional ones?

Flexibility, Adaptability:  Can you “go with the flow” when the situation indicates it, while still keeping in your best character and honoring your values and principles?

Responsible:  Do you recognize the need for you to accept responsibility in two critical areas: first, for things delegated to you to do, and second, for the consequences of things you have already done?  Are you a link in the chain that creates and delivers value to customers, or are you just an observer?

Conscientious:  Do you approach your work in the most ethical way to achieve the best possible outcome for the customer and the organization?  Do you recognize and fix your goofs, especially if you spill some of your red M&Ms©?

Loyal:  Are you committed to see the organization succeed for the benefit of its customers?  Are you to be trusted to work professionally to meet the organization’s best interests?  Can you be trusted to represent the organization in public?  Now, ask yourself the same questions, but preface them with “Even in bad times”.

Easy to work with:  Do you have a cooperative attitude in working with others that both increases productivity as well as morale?

Share credit:  Do you recognize that credit for an achievement is infinitely divisible to all who made a contribution?

Dependable:  Can we depend upon you to be self-motivated to put forth your best effort and produce your best result even when no one is watching?

And the last but most important,

Integrity:  Is what you Say you will do actually what you Do, because it is who you Are?

These are some of the more important character traits that an employer will be looking for in hiring and retaining an employee, always.  And they are even more important in tough economic times.

In closing, recall two important concepts: first, that Integrity is the conduit through which your character, principles, and values are expressed to the world, and second, your character traits are just like spilled red and green Christmas M&Ms© on your Are floor.  Be careful which ones you pick to share.

Character Traits and the Integrity Conduit in the Behavior Framework

Character Traits and the Integrity Conduit in the Behavior Framework

Do you know who you really Are?  Do you know your Character Traits (good and bad), and your Principles and Values?

Better yet, do you know who you want to Be?

About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
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