Your cross functional colleagues think you are professionally ambiguous, did you know that? Of course not. That is not the type of question you would ask them. Perhaps you should. Here’s why.
Ambiguity is defined as having more than one way of being interpreted, being vague, inexact, uncertain, doubtful. In other words, your words and actions are inconsistent every time your cross functional colleagues work with you. In fact, that is the only trait they can count on: you are consistently ambiguous.
Let’s explore three common root causes of their perceptions. And then, friends, my advice is that you consistently take the professional actions necessary to ensure you are crystal clear, moving forward.
Because when colleagues perceive you as professionally ambiguous, you become unreliable.
First, you are professionally ambiguous when do not follow through on commitments.
Perhaps you were assigned a deliverable. Except, at the next meeting, you deny having taken responsibility for creating specific output. Even when meeting notes indicate the contrary. Plus, you bring excuses to justify why you fell short on your assigned task, even though you continue to deny ever signing up to do it. You take on commitments to earn professional recognition, except your risk aversion to seek help to complete these tasks trips you up every time.
Or, you are professionally ambiguous because colleagues outside your professional discipline do not understand what you do or what you are saying.
When you speak, you end up being exclusive, rather than inclusive. Continuing to rely on professional terminology lets everyone else know that they are not as smart as you are. And after a while, those colleagues turn off and tune you out and miss some really valuable insights. Regardless of how precise and exact you think you are, in fact, you are not. When colleagues are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the professional terminology you rely on, they become uncertain and doubtful about your professional value.
Then again, you are professionally ambiguous when you will not or cannot provide a logic or rationale for the actions you propose.
This type of professional ambiguity grows into a big problem over time. Especially when working with or selling to decision makers and colleagues who require facts to solve problems. You have great ideas (or even bonehead ones). Except your “Just Do It!” attitude always requires someone else to do the heavy lifting, instead of you. What happens when you start the lifting and conduct the due diligence prework to justify why you propose the idea? Everyone else just might get jazzed to take action, too.
You can do something about being professionally ambiguous, instead of carrying the baggage of your ambiguity around with you.
Think about. When you continue to be professionally ambiguous, you eventually perpetuate unconscious bias about your professional credibility. It’s a form of professional self-sabotage.
Today’s interconnected, cross functional workplaces will not just happen because a new set of regulations (like ISO 9001:2015?) targets a holistic workplace.
Professional holism starts by addressing professional ambiguity in the workplace. And this ambiguity often is rooted in habits which need to be: 1) recognized, 2) acknowledged; and then 3) addressed. Otherwise, your career trajectory feels like a series of starts and stops and an endless loop of forward progress and then retreat. You are better than that.
So, what will it be? The choice is yours: perpetuate professional ambiguity or break out through professional innovation? What are your next steps?
Start moving one millimeter beyond professional ambiguity, today. Take these next steps.
- Read these related posts on professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention.
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Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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