Are You a “Pleaser Achiever”?

pleaser achieverA month ago, my boss mentioned that everyone on our team is a “Pleaser Achiever”?   I have been meaning to write about it ever since.  So what is a “Pleaser Achiever”, you may ask?  Well, let’s start with a simple quiz

  • When someone comes to you for help at work and your boss tells you you can say no, do you still try to help them?
  • When your manager gives you feedback on where you could improve, do you think about it extensively?
  • If you have a bad meeting with your boss, does it affect you the whole week?
  • If you have conflicts or disagreement with anyone at work, do you think about it at night?
  • Are you quick to apologize?

If you say yes to most or all the questions above, then you are a “Pleaser Achiever.”  Here are the common traits

  • We like to be helpful and will go out of our way to help.
  • We take ownership in everything we do and will always make sure we close the loop.
  • We like harmony at work.  We may be bold to disagree with others at work on content, but we try to our best to avoid ruffling feathers.
  • We are perfectionist.
  • We take feedback very seriously and will think from all angles how we can improve our work.

You may say – “What’s wrong with that?  Don’t most successful people have these traits?”  I would say that unfortunately, the “Pleaser” part of this can be detrimental to our career progress and happiness.  Here are three reasons why

Reason #1: Lack of Prioritized Focus:

A “Pleaser Achiever” will always look for ways to “please” others by helping to solve a problem. What this means is we are likely to misread what are the core things we must do to advance our career and what are the things we really should just say no.   I encountered this just recently.   I am leading a large cross-functional project with many business requirements, one of them is highly complex.  My entire team has been a bit lost as to what to do, so I started stepping in to help them navigate.   It was taking a lot of time.  When I mentioned this to my manager in my weekly update, she said something completely surprising.   She said, “You shouldn’t spend so much time on this.  This is an optional requirement and not a priority for our group.  Even though it’s a tough problem to solve for the business, you need to prioritize your time differently.”

Lesson Learned:  Even when you know you can help an effort, it is important to prioritize and align with your manager.   I wasn’t getting any credit for a chunk of work I was doing for several weeks.  Instead, helping them made me look like I didn’t prioritize properly.

Reason #2: Nice People Finish Last

A “Pleaser Achiever” is usually very diplomatic.  We are not push-overs, but we also have a hard time ruffling feathers.  At the core of it, we are perfectionists.  We want to do thing perfectly and want everyone to like us, whether we admit it or not.   Unfortunately, this is not the path to senior leadership.  Most senior leaders have to make tough choices every day that are not liked by some people.   While being diplomatic is an important skill as a leader, achieving results and being decisive matter more.

Lesson Learned:  Career advancement to leadership requires you to have the self confidence to make tough choices that can ruffle feathers.   Stand your ground.  It is better to be respected than likable.

Reason #3: Letting Feedback Affect Your Core Self-Confidence.

A “Pleaser Achiever” can feel destroyed by a simple careless comment/feedback from our bosses.   One of the biggest disadvantages of being a “Pleaser Achiever” is we think we need to do everything and anything to get approval from our manager.   This would make us ultra sensitive to their feedback.  This is dangerous to our core happiness.  Bosses are human with their good days and bad days.  Even the best manager will make mistakes and say things to us that are not motivating or condescending.   It is up to us to take it in stride and shrug it off as just a bad day, instead of making every little feedback mean something more.

Lesson Learned:  We need to have self confidence of our own abilities instead of depending on praise of others to feel “happy” about our work.   The best quote I saw on this is from “Ray of Dawn” by Dr. Thurman Fleet.  He said,  “The honest and faithful performance of [work] is rewarded by the knowledge of a job well done.”  Ask yourself, when do you allow yourself to feel happy about work?  Is it only when you are recognized by others, especially your boss for a job well done?  Can you instead just feel good and happy about your work because you know you did a good job, regardless of anyone else’s opinion?  It is perspective worth considering.

Hopefully this articles gives you some food for thought. As for me, I am a recovering “Pleaser Achiever” that seems to have relapsed a little in my new job.   I am human  🙂 .   Writing this article also builds my self awareness.  At the end of day, I realized it is so easy to get wrapped up in the corporate ladder and the crave for others’ approval.  That is not a path to advancement or happiness.

If I am lucky I only have another 40 some years on this earth, it’s important to remember the bigger picture.  I am here to learn, grow and experience life (including work), but not only work.

Your comments: Are you a “Pleaser Achiever’?  How has it affected your career and happiness?  What is your reaction to this article?   Disagreement also leads to new learning.  I look forward to any and all comments.  Thanks

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Best wishes to your career fulfillment!


One thought on “Are You a “Pleaser Achiever”?”

  1. Very thought provoking post! While probably not a core element of my personality, I definitely have traits of this in my professional life. Too often I allow either my priorities or confidence get shaped by the ability to please others who may not either be those I report to or who are my main servicing objective. Thanks for writing!

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