You must be New! 5 Things You Should Never Do Coming into an Organization

It is very difficult to come into an organization as a new middle manager – or any level for that matter – but, I have found it most difficult when you’re a layer or two below the top of the organization.

Off the bat…you have no history, no relationships and no credibility. You’re not one of the gang; you don’t know the secret knock. You don’t even have the reputation of being an outside consultant – a hired gun parachuted in to fix something and then you’re out.

You live in the middle gray area of not being on the team but hired to build or fix something from within. This can be a lonely place at first. As such, there are 5 things you should never do on your way in that might inhibit your chances to make friends and gain entry to the club.

Never…

  1. Eat your lunch at your desk. Lunch is the perfect opportunity to get to know people outside of the workplace on a personal level but also in a safe environment so people can be candid with you. Lunch is a very disarming situation and, best of all, it is outside of a boring beige conference room!
  2. Pine for your past. People don’t really want to hear about your past lives. They may want to get to know you a little bit but don’t belabor what you have achieved in the past. People don’t want to hear: “Well, at my last company…” too many times. It is a turn-off. Instead focus on what you think is possible and what excites you about this opportunity.
  3. Ignore their past. Don’t brush over what has been tried before at the present company. Oftentimes, what has been done could have been quite good; there may not have been enough buy-in or focus on change management. Be sure to pay homage to the past. Recognize it, take what’s good and keep it (and communicate that broadly); reinvent, carefully, what does not work.
  4. Build your plan right away. Even if you know what needs to be changed and how to do it within 30 days, resist the urge. Give it 90-100 days. Grab your pipe and magnifying glass and go to work Sherlock Holmes style. Discover what your stakeholders need and really give good thought on how to get it done. This shows you can listen.
  5. Do nothing for 6 months. Don’t act too quickly but there is a sweet spot between giving enough time to build credibility through listening and doing something to prove your value. So, be sure to not only have your plan ready in 90-100 days but achieve a “plus one”– one tangible, achievable outcome along with the plan within that timeframe.

When Things Go Wrong

woods-2-pathsI don’t know if I believe in superstitions….if Mercury is in retrograde, gremlins get in the system or “ghosts” have something to do with my keys always disappearing. All I do know is something is wrong.

Lately, nothing has cooperated. Technology is not working, plans are falling through and desired outcomes are getting delayed or eliminated. So, whether it’s the cosmos out of alignment or the creatures you’re not supposed to feed after midnight, I am stumped as to the bad fortune lately.

Instead of sulking at the number of mishaps, as a true KM professional, I turn to capturing lessons learned and trying to pinpoint items in my control to look toward the future.

Sometimes we learn that items are not in our control, like technology, so all we can do is communicate the current state, apologize for inconvenience and move to a solution, band-aid or take an alternate path. I find the alternate paths, while vexing at first, can lead to great fortune.

I keep reminding myself that rarely do things go 100% according to plan and we should expect the unexpected. So, mishaps can be good. Conflict can lead to learning. Forced alternatives can lead to a better solution that we never would have thought of!

As long as we take time to reflect and dissect with a clear head, “bad” things can be good, and “wrong” turns can lead to the right path.

Autumn Means Work

autumn_leavesWell, I missed my goal of blogging every week. I set out this goal when I started my blog back in June. I inadvertently took the last 3 weeks off because my schedule became overrun with professional work, outside presentations I have been working on and a full personal calendar.

Why is October so crazy? When you have a significant other’s birthday, Halloween, college football parties, raking leaves and companies ramping up projects to get done before the end of the year, October tends to be a pivotal month.

Apparently, we’ve played all summer and now it’s time to get down to business. The weather is crummy, darkness sets in at 4:30 pm so there is nothing to do but work. And, we need to be productive before the holiday time takes over our personal lives and forces us to take vacation to accommodate those plans.

Even nature gets busy. While I’m toiling away on my computer at home on Saturdays, I see the squirrels going nuts (literally!). They are in a hurry. Gathering as much as they can as fast as they can and heaven help the other squirrel that gets in the way. With puffed tails, the squirrels chase the other off and yell at them that if they ever see them in their territory again, they’ll get it.

Are humans this way? With October and most of November being crunch time, do we snap at others more easily? Do we expect more from our families and employees? To a degree, I think the answer is yes. So, focusing on health, sleep and sanity is most important during these crazy times.

October and November have to be the most productive time of the year! I know…what about spring? Spring is perfect for spring cleaning, listing a home, planting flowers, engaging in outdoor activities that we couldn’t do in the wintertime, and don’t forget planning for the projects that will commence in the Fall. We also lose an hour so we have to compensate for that lost time by doing more in less time.

Let’s face it…we are busy all year round regardless of the weather. The race to November 26 is on. Good luck to everyone!