Been there, done that. Because of the economy and marketplace, many seemingly normal environments are slowly turning into ‘high-performance’ workplaces (HPW).

In addition, if you are working at a startup or within a certain industry (PR, Advertising, Tech, etc.), you might encounter this situation all the time. Here are some tips to help you understand, cope, and succeed in your career:

Compare You vs. Them.
Do you fit in this environment? This is usually the first question I ask when clients are not fitting in at their place of work. I first get a good idea about who they are and what a typical day involves and then compare/contrast it with the demands/expectations of their organization. If the two don’t fit, we see how big the chasm is and then decide on next steps. Sometimes, you need to leave.

You are not going to know everything.
This is one of the biggest issues many executives run into. In HPW, things/people/projects are moving at light-speed. Decisions need to be made in one-tenth the time and sometimes you’re put on the spot by your boss or peers. You are going to catch yourself saying, “I know that.” or “I’ll handle that”, while deep in the recesses of your head you know you have no idea what they are talking about. This is huge with new employees and young workers. Be honest. Say, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t know, but I can find out.” rather than lying. I find it’s usually worse if you say you do know it and you screw it up. Again, tell the truth.

Streamline everything you do.
This is huge — your job is to streamline everything you do to allow you to take on more responsibility and projects. Constantly look at all the elements and see which ones can go away or can be reduced in size, time, or resources. If you do this consistently, you will be regarded as invaluable to the organization and fit in perfectly.

Make things happen NOW.
Don’t wait until tomorrow — what can you do right now to move your project, task, or activity along? Who do you need to call? This leads into:

Sit on people to get their part done.
This is hard for many people. When working with your peers and team members, it might be difficult to move them faster than their highest gear. Guess what? It’s their job. We tend to forget this — many positions within an organization cater to internal customers, like you. Be demanding, listen to their excuse, but then PUSH. Ask for a due date and hold them to it. Check in before the deadline to see their progress. If they become an obstacle, go around them. I do this ALL the time.

Practice excellent time management.
You also need to keep your act in order. If you are sloppy time-wise, you’ll never get anything done on time and that is a death-warrant in a HPW. Figure out some behavior change — Franklin Planner, Pomodoro, Getting Things Done, etc. (just Google: Time Management)— stick to it and use it faithfully. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself falling farther and farther away from the pack and you begin to forget/drop important tasks.

How do you cope in your high performance workplace?

Image provided by SuperFantastic at Flickr.