Monday, April 12, 2010

You Must Think We’re Really Weird?

I like the variety of moving around a lot of different organisations and it’s been about six years since I’ve had a permanent job. I don’t think I could go back to one really but never say never (if the power gets disconnected, homelessness etc).


You see more things, meet new people, disappear for days at a time and play the ‘I’m just contract,- I don’t think I need to be on the kitchen roster’ card.


Something I always get asked is “what do you think of the place?” and more commonly "you must think we're really weird?"


Most organisations are strikingly similar (I’m a ‘pattern matcher’so I tend to see sameness -as opposed to ‘deconstructivist’, scientisty types who break things down).


I definitely see the difference going between private and public sector in the decision making area. Private is more competitive, public is more consensus based and, refreshingly, more open to diversity in the workplace.  I like both.


The main thing I notice is how much better I function by being a step removed and not getting emotionally caught up in the company culture.


It’s a hard one because organisations try to develop and invest in people beyond a simple task orientation (mow the lawn and leave, here’s your money) but like any relationship, sometimes people get under your skin and the last thing you want to do is sit in a cubicle with them for 40 hours a week (hence the term ‘going postal’).


Things I’ve learned:


1. Always be friendly “ Hi, how was your weekend?” is quite possibly the best investment you can make in your career
2. Go to Friday night drinks. Don’t be a Nana. You don’t have to go every week but a wee lemonade with the tribe can break down a lot of barriers. It’s easy to dehumanise work colleagues. Lemonade, and other associated beverages, rehydrate the human-ness. How many times have you thought someone was a tosser and then you have a proper chat to them and suddenly you’re best mates?
3. Watch your emails. Nothing creates as much fury as “ attached with changes”…how about “ a few suggestions for you to have look through <smiley face>”. Ah, much nicer. Email battles and thoughtless wording are passive aggressive pettiness. Cut it out. Especially you girls!
4.Let people be good at their jobs. If the General Manager of JellyBeans Colouring has been at the job for 20 years and presents jellybean colour schemes to you, respect their experience. Again, watch your wording on feedback and ask questions.
5. There is always a way to get round the FaceBook or YouTube firewall.
I always remember a great thought by Prof Henry Mintzberg on organisational behavior theory and MBAs: You can study all you like but the two hardest things are real people and real money. You can't study those things, you just have to get in the game.
What things have your learned? What are you figuring out?










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