My boss told me I am "too nice" at work. How could I improve?

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New answer on Jan 17, 2021
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 14, 2021

My boss gave me a feedback that she thinks I am "too nice" at work. Some specific examples would be:

(1) Don't know how to say no to people's request.

(2) Focus too much on contributing to others. Instead, I should spend more effort on developing my skills instead of contributing what I am already good at.

(3) Sometimes, in respond to other people's request, I devote too much time and effort. I could have spend less time and deliver a more simple output.

My hypothesis is that the above statement means that I am too "naive" and not "seasoned/tactful/crafty" enough. My boss said that although I am "people-oriented" and "team driven", I should make a balance of being "too nice". Could anyone share their views or experience? I know that I shouldn't be too mean and crafty, but I do want to make some change so that I seem seasoned and mature in a professional setting.

Thank you so much for your advice!

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Clara
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replied on Jan 14, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Thanks for sharing the specific examples, that is what helps most!

I would say:

  1. This means, learn how to pritize. It´s great to be collaborative, but never at expense of the quality of your own work.
  2. Same as prev. point!
  3. This is a classic when starting, related to the always mentioned 80-20 approach. It not only applies to when helping people, but also to your own work

In a nutshell, keep being so nice and collaborative, but only when you have ensured the quality of your own output

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Gaurav
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replied on Jan 14, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

It's a very valuable piece of constructive critisicm! And it works not only at workplace, but in all aspects of life.

I don't think she meant you're naive, I think the main point here is about the ability of setting boundaries and thinking about your personal work first and then about helping the others.

Take time to respond. Probably your first answer to any request is "yes". By taking your time you might find out you don't want / can't / don't have time to help somebody rn. Then practice saying no.

Hope it helps!

Cheers

GB

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Francesco
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replied on Jan 15, 2021
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

It is a tough problem as balance between collaboration and personal productivity it is not easy.

I would recommend the following:

  1. Take time when you get a request. Never answer yes immediately. Use as first answer “I would be willing to support you if I can. Let me check if I can do so given what my manager wants me to do today, if so I will let you know shortly”. After the chat, reflect if you can really dedicate the time and if not politely decline
  2. Define 3 goals every day and give priority to them. If you get requests outside that range while work in progress, kindly decline. If you get requests after doing them, feel free to accept
  3. Use the Pomodoro technique to quantify the time spent. It is very easy to be distracted. Once you master this technique your productivity will skyrocket and you will have more time to help others

Best,
Francesco

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Adi
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replied on Jan 14, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Take this feedback in the right spirit. The main rule is this:

Prioritise your work, deliverables, deadlines and relationships (boss, client) first. Once these are under control offer to help others. Set expectations early on and dont say YES to everything just by habit.

Over time and as you mature in career and become more confident, some of these challenges will go away.

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Ian
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replied on Jan 15, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I had this problem as well!

Keep in mind a few things:

  • Consultants have an obligation to dissent
  • Carry with you "Strong beliefs, loosely held"
  • Come in to each meeting with just 1 thing you want to get across/get done...make sure it happens!
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Antonello
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replied on Jan 17, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,

Thanks for providing context to your question.

The other coaches already gave you interesting perspectives.

I would add two points.

1. The 80-20 rule is really important in consulting. Prioritize your work by setting goals and managing expectations with your managers. Do not micromanage and focus on key value-adding activities.

2. Learn how to say "no" as it is a key factor that is assessed in your performance review in consulting. One way to improve is simply to start saying no!

Hope this helps.

Best,

Antonello

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Clara gave the best answer

Clara

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