At Microsoft, it helps when your manager gets you.
I’m pretty sure that’s true wherever you go.
To put it another way, when your manager or someone doesn’t get you, either they won’t bring out your best, or you won’t be appreciated for the value you bring to the table.
There are lots of tools that help with this challenge:
- Insights Discovery
- DiSC Assessment
- StrengthsFinder (Now CliftonStrengths)
- The Big Five Personality Test
- Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
- The Golden Circle (Simon Sinek)
- LPI® 360 (Leadership Practices Inventory)
- Predictive Index
All of these tools help provide lenses and language to better understand people.
How Would Your Manager Whiteboard You?
But my mentor shared a very pragmatic tool & exercise to bridge the gap:
“How would your manager whiteboard you?”
The idea is, if you were not in the room, how would your manager whiteboard you to others?
It has to be fast, it has to be simple, it has to connect your focus with impact.
It can help tell a story about someone, at least in a work context, to pull together what they are about.
I immediately understood the idea, but I needed help imagining what that might be for me?
Example of a Whiteboard View of You
My mentor painted a simple picture in my mind.
He said something along the lines of, “You’re all about human potential, so that’s your core.
Imagine a big circle with human potential at the center.”
He then said, “Your 3 pillars might be: innovation, sustainability, and productivity.
These 3 pillars help simplify talking about your efforts.”
I said it make sense and wondered if there was anything else.
He said, this is the key: “Show a max of 3 initiatives under each pillar.
This way when they talk about your work, they have a simple frame in their mind.”
Can Your Manager Whiteboard You?
Ultimately, it’s not whether you can whiteboard you (though, that’s a start).
It’s can your manager whiteboard you?
Can you give your manager simple way to whiteboard you, that’s simple and useful?
You’re helping your manager gain a lens into your world so they can be a better advocate, champ, partner, or coach.
Minimally, you’re helping reduce the gap between “I don’t get what they do” and crystal clarity.
The beauty is, you might be surprised when you try to whiteboard you.
If you struggle with it, imagine everybody else.
In a world of change and complexity, any tool in your toolbox to simplify things can be a real game changer.
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