Brett and I met for a socially distanced visit in a local park for his coaching session. Working from home and being isolated from co-workers and friends seemed to really be taking a toll on him. I thought he might benefit from an in-person coaching session.

“It’s just so unfair!” Brett lamented to me. He went on to explain that his boss was allowing others to adjust their working hours, work on more impactful projects and participate in the mentoring program within the company. He continued to complain for a while telling me about what everyone else was getting to do and questioned why they should have those opportunities. When he began to evaluate them and their performance, I stopped him and said, “don’t make it about them, but instead make it about you.”

Obviously, Brett was frustrated and taking the opportunity to vent his frustrations. However, he is not going to get anywhere if his focus is on what others are doing and not doing. His focus must be on what he is doing or not doing that would allow him the same opportunities. He told me that he honestly did not know and I suggested it was time to talk to his leader. In planning his conversation, Brett needed to calm down, address reality and ask himself a few questions.

  • First, Brett needs to consider what he really wants. If he doesn’t know how to talk about his expectations, then it is highly unlikely anyone will be able to meet them.  He needs a clearly stated objective to share with his leader. From that objective, they can put together a plan to accomplish his goals.


  • Secondly, what is lacking in his effort? Can he do more to put himself in a better position with his leader? Is Brett putting in the time to earn an opportunity? Does he make learning a priority to better prepare himself for additional responsibility?  Assessing his own effort is an important step before approaching his leader. Is he doing his very best, and if not, why not? If Brett sees a deficit in his own effort, it is highly likely that his leader does as well.


  • Next, what needs to change about his attitude? Is his own negative thinking sabotaging his career? Brett’s comparison to other team members is a clue to me that he is more focused on others than on his own performance. He has no control over what others do or how they are recognized. The only thing he can control is his own decisions, actions and behaviors.


  • Lastly, what does he want to request from his leader? If he doesn’t communicate he wants more responsibility, an opportunity for mentoring and work hour flexibility, he is not likely to get it. Again, he needs to present sound reasoning for his requests and show evidence of his own positive performance that warrants the opportunities. Leaders like to hear results, so it is important that Brett speaks the language of concrete results.

Most importantly, in talking with his leader, Brett must talk about what Brett needs to do to be recognized by his leader instead of complaining about the opportunities others have been given. He has to ask the question: Is he deficient in any area of his performance? If blind spots are revealed, he should ask the question: what does improvement look like? This is a critical step to improving performance. Brett must understand what great performance looks like to his leader.

It's easy to complain and compare. If you want to #crushyourcareer, you need to go deeper into understanding your own goals and objectives and your personal path to achieving them. Click To TweetEvery individual is different and great leaders leverage the strengths and talents of each team member. Understand yourself and then help your leader better understand you so that you create a win-win scenario for both of you.

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