There are moments in the workplace when what appears to be a gift is more of a grab. Here are some “presents” that merit special caution:
1. Extra responsibility for your team. The superficial side cheers and shouts, “We’ve just been given more power!” The serious side says, “Since we didn’t get additional funding, they just cut our budget.” Sometimes, additional responsibility is a real opportunity, but it should be examined for downsides, such as overloading.
2. Extra responsibility and more money wrapped around a poison pill. In this case, all looks fine on the surface but hidden within is a person, project, or condition that is a problem. Know the ingredients of everything you consume.
3. Burdens today and promises for tomorrow. This deal is a delayed gift. It asks you to make a real sacrifice today in exchange for what will be an illusory reward in the future. When the big day arrives, expect a shipment of smoke and mirrors. A key question: How much of a tangible sacrifice is being made by the other side?
4. Low standards. Not much is demanded. It’s an easy job. Who can complain? Of course, this also means you’re not being challenged or developed. After three years of coasting, you may be far behind your contemporaries when it comes to professional knowledge. The person who gives you a great but undeserved performance evaluation may be withholding the tough but candid guidance that boosts careers.
5. A charismatic leader. You bask in the glow that comes with working in the circle of a highly popular leader. Over time you may reasonably wonder whether the charisma is fostering dependency in both fact and appearance.
6. Too many resources. Your team has just been given an embarrassment of rich—at the expense of other parts of the organization. Don’t expect to win any popularity contests in those quarters.
7. Undeserved recognition. A close relative of no. 6. Those who hand out awards don’t always have your best interests in mind.
Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.