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STYLES: JAZZ IMPROVISATION

Here is the cheat sheet for modifying your behavior style in small ways that can make a big difference.  If you just bite off a little bit instead of trying to turn yourself inside out, you can go a long way in fixing that thing your boss is unhappy about.

If you identify yourself as a Jazz Improviser I’ve got a news flash for you.  The world does not revolve around you and people go back and forth between thinking you are a brilliant visionary and completely out of your mind.  You take multi-tasking to a new art form that may work for you but to the people around you they see no sense of order or completion.  You have a new idea every minute and you can’t understand why others don’t enjoy mixing it up.  You talk too damn much for most people’s taste.  Here’s how you sound.

  • Blah, blah, blah…(they just can’t hear you through the sea of words)
  • Blah, blah, blah…(pie in the sky, completely unrealistic…they have tuned you out)
  • Blah, blah, blah…(too new age-y, naïve…earth to Joe)
  • In my gut I really think this is the wrong decision.
  • If we can engage the staff more fully then I’m sure we’ll get great results.

Upbeat, engaging, fun, inventive…all good things.  But if no one trusts you to make a plan or carry it out or measure the outcome then how effective can you ultimately be?  Since you love trying new things, how about one of these?

  • Talk less.  You do all your thinking out loud.  You run through your entire list of pros and cons and add new ideas and drop others and put the pieces together in five different ways until you have come to your best recommendation.  Guess what?  No one wants to hear that whole process.  They only want the punch line. Censure yourself, hold back and just speak your concluding thought.  The briefer and more concise you can be, the more likely it is that people will listen to you.
  • Create one project plan.   You are a big idea person and that is a great thing…especially if you can actually craft a plan and follow through.  This isn’t your natural tendency so pick just one of those grand schemes and make it happen.  You will probably need to learn some of the basics of project planning. Ask a friend to help you or take a course.  Oddly enough, structure can unleash creativity so you need to make friends with planning and, dare I say, with Excel.  Once you’ve proven to your boss and peers that you can actually put those great ideas into action, your stock will go way up.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel.  You are one of those odd ducks who loves change.  But change for change sake is not a fun thing for most people in organizations.  Not to mention that it is very disruptive.  Just because you get bored with doing things the same way twice does not mean that it requires reinvention.  Resist the urge to try new programs or modify standard operating procedures on a regular basis.  Make a twelve-month rule with yourself.  You are not allowed to change something that is working within that time frame.  Chances are you will have forgotten all about it long before the year is up.  Your staff will thank you for this.
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