Prescription – getting and keeping your rock star status at work

This month we’ve tackled one of the more common dysfunctions in recent years “I thought I was a rock star… until they let me go.”  We’ve spotted the warning signs and we’ve leaped over the traps.  Now it’s time to think proactively about what we can do to maintain our status as “rock stars” at work.  Here’s your prescription – refill as necessary:

Your Daily Rock Star Regimen

  • 2 Doses of Humility Daily – Are you staying humble?  Perpetual rock stars never lose sight of the reality that their “fame and fortune” could be gone tomorrow.  For your first dose of humility, know everyone at work by their first name and say “hello.”  This includes the receptionist, temporary employees and even the cleaning crew.  For your second dose of humility, always be willing to do the dirty work.  You are never too good to get your hands dirty.  Make sure everyone sees you working alongside of them – not above them.
  • Deliver at a High Level Daily – You became a rock star because of your work ethic and work product.  Don’t ever let that slip.  Just like with any good health regimen, maintaining your rock star status involves an ounce of discipline and a shot of ownership / pride in your work.  Maintain your standards.  Remember, organizations have short memories.  What have you done for them lately?  Make sure you are reliable and consistently contributing.

Your Weekly Rock Star Regimen

  • 2 Lunches Weekly – Be intentional about building relationships up, down and across in your organization.  This is what nearly all rock stars do to get to the top.  Keep it up to protect your status.  Every week you should have at least two lunches scheduled with your co-workers to make sure you are building relationships throughout the organization.  Don’t dine alone.
  • Stay Current with Trends and Sell Tickets Weekly – Make sure you are asking questions regularly of others about the challenges they are facing weekly (not monthly or worse yet, annually).  Your job is then to position yourself as the solution to their challenges.  Enduring rock stars always have their pulse on the issues the organization is facing and position themselves as part of the solution.  In other words, you can never stop selling tickets to your show.  Trends change.  If you don’t stay current, you’ll be part of last season’s fashions fast.

Your Monthly Rock Star Regimen

  • Brand Check-Up Monthly – How do your co-workers perceive you at work?  This is your brand.  Make sure you are taking the pulse of your brand monthly.  Get yourself one or more trusted advisors that will tell you the truth without pulling any punches.  Check in with them monthly to make sure your fans are still around.  One bad fan can poison the well so make sure if you have an unhappy “customer” (a co-worker that is upset with you), you become aware of it as soon as possible and manage it quickly.  You don’t need unintended enemies.  In addition, as part of your check-up, listen closely to how people perceive you.  What are the words they would use to describe you to someone who is new to the organization?  Is it what you would want them to say?  Image isn’t everything, but it matters.  Manage it well.

There you have it – the prescription to maintaining your rock star status at work.  It will take discipline, hard work and intention.  Keep it up, watch for the warning signs and avoid the traps.  Before you know it, you’ll be entered into the “rock star hall of fame.”  Where is that these days anyway?

Stay tuned to March’s dysfunction of the month – “I don’t trust my boss.”  Juicy!

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3 replies
  1. Rock Star says:

    I followed this recipe exactly and it still happened! But then again, I guess none of us are immune from the societal rules that are placed upon us for the improvement of society as a whole.

  2. ChrisH says:

    I’m torn between agreement with this position and wanting to qualify it further. If I am required to be culturally sensitive at this level, all I am doing is gaming the system to achieve a temporary outcome. The main problem that I see with this approach is that it’s temporary – it’s a consumable and needs constant funding to be maintained. The overhead of doing this continually is massive, and it’s emotionally and mentally draining to gave to spend such a large amount of time politicking just to be able to do good work. If I open myself up to a “servant model’ that detracts from my focus and performance, there is the very real possibility that I am going to end up having to make someone successful at my own direct expenee. I’m not such a rock star that I’m interested in taking on someone else’s work because they’re not capable, nor would I find it acceptable that someone else got a free ride. Here’s why: 9 times out of 10 that person you just uplifted doesn’t give a crap about you, and next month/quarter/year they will be back in the same place with the same results. My experience has been that more often than not that the naysayers are under performing, and the reason you are losing your rock star status is because they can’t stand it when someone else is capable of being successful on their own. These same people like to chop down the trees around them to make themselves seem taller.

    Modern enterprises that work at the level your are targeting require performance. They also demand that the people being hired and managed have the skills to support the company’s mission and role effectively. I find that to rarely be the case in my industry.

    Traits that make for good collaboration and supporting structures might work well for a small team, but rarely work well at scale for departments or organizations.

    Lastly, if I’m spending half my time as a rock star politicking and uplifting poor performers so that they don’t derail my initiatives and career, then I’m not doing 50% of my work, which is more important to me, and I’ve breached scope so badly that I’ve created a second full time job.

    There has to be a better way than to absorb all of the toxins and organizational dysfunctions.

  3. Brandon Smith says:

    Chris,
    I don’t disagree with your assessment that this is essentially time consuming, arguably “inefficient,” and flat out “not right.” That being said, it is what it is. I have yet to encounter an industry, and I’ve touched countless, that don’t have some level of this unspoken requirement as you move up from being an individual contributor to a future leader. It becomes more about influence, networking, relationship-building, understanding the pace and culture of the business, helping to support other leaders, lifting up under-performing peers, etc… Yes, this stuff does take nearly 50% of one’s time. But if you want to work with others on a team and aspire to move up the ranks, it seems to be human nature that this stuff is expected of us. However, if this frustrates you, you can focus more solely on performance as either and individual contributor or a solopreneur/contractor and there is less expectation for the other “stuff.” No harm, no foul.

What do YOU think?

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