I’ve been thinking recently about the qualities that separate ‘A’ employees from ‘B’ and ‘C’ employees. There are probably infinite answers to the question that will vary depending on who’s answering, but I had one answer I wanted to put out there.
Uncertainty while working in the corporate world is everywhere we look. In fact, it’s probably the default value. ‘A’ players are those rare birds that thrive in uncertainty, while ‘B’ and ‘C’ players are those who become derailed by the lack of certainty.
To become an A player who works with ambiguity well is to become a machine. As multifaceted individuals we have different elements of ourselves that we can call on in different situations. We can be emotional, we can be logical etc. To become an ‘A’ player who is a ninja at working with ambiguity we must bar the Emoter from ourselves and channel the Logician. We must become an absolute machine who continuously asks ourselves “What do I know about this situation?” and, because emotion is the enemy that derails us from what we know we must continuously refer to that question anytime any kind of emotion or anxiety rears its head.
In keeping with this approach, and building on the idea that emotion is the enemy of working with uncertainty, I recently conducted a search to hire someone to work with data. A significant part of the hiring process (aside, of course from verifying a minimal proficiency with working with data) was to mentally test for an individual who exudes a particularly calm air.
While I do not have a double-blind, formal study to back it up, thus far in working with the new hire, it seems like he excels in working with data in situations where ambiguity is the rule of the day, he maintains his focus on answering the question in front of him and is not derailed by distracting emotional factors.
Let me know in the comments if you have noticed any correlation between a particularly calm air and ability to work with ambiguity.
- About the Author
Nathan Safran is a former Analyst at Forrester Research where he covered the Digital Home. While at Forrester, Nathan authored research studies on trends, attitudes and behaviors of consumers toward technology adoption and use.
Nathan has been quoted as a subject matter expert in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Fortune magazine. Currently, Nathan heads the Research Department at Conductor, Inc an SEO Technology Platform firm.
Nathan writes at exceljockey.com about the intersection of Business, Technology and Psychology. See the About page for more info. Follow Nathan on Twitter: @Nathan_Safran