Adding value is all the rage. Supposedly if you can add value you will get you noticed, get that job, get the promotion. I tried adding value the other day and it backfired. My eighth grade daughter was struggling with her math homework. I asked her about it and she shared her frustration with remembering the rules for adding, dividing, and multiplying exponents. Great thing I was there because it just so happens I was a math whiz in high school. I remembered some great strategies I had used to overcome this very same problem. So I decided to add value by sharing them with her.
Instead of receiving gratitude and amazement for my value-add, I got something completely different; resentment and resistance. “Dad, that’s not helpful! You don’t understand. That won’t work. And even if it did, it’s not what we are supposed to do.”
Adding value is a dicey thing because it emphasizes personal recognition and ego. There are ways to do it, and ways not to do it. Some get you noticed and make enemies. Some aren’t that obvious and actually make a difference. Turns out I was being a diminisher by attempting to rescue my daughter.
If any of these are your idea of adding value, you will probably get noticed but are making things worse:
- Bringing tons of great ideas
- Improving on others’ ideas and contributions
- Competing for the best solutions
- Showing how smart you are
- Doing it faster, better, and smarter yourself
- Striving to get credit for your contribution
These ways of adding value serve only to raise you above others and send the message that your ego is more important than the performance of the team.
What if instead of needing to add value, you worked to create value? You’d be a multiplier practicing compassion. It might not garner the spotlight, but it could make a long-term impact. It might look something like this:
- Affirming and supporting someone who is struggling
- Asking curious questions to learn all you can about a situation
- Looking for ways to combine or leverage others’ gifts for greater impact
- Helping people discover and own their own capabilities
- Helping the team work better together
- Listening more than you talk
Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2016
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