The one where I’m now in the family

Last November I wrote a post entitled ‘The one where it’s in the family’ where I expressed my frustration with what appeared, at least to me, the closed-minded thinking of some people about considering hiring people who had worked outside their industry. At the time people shared some interesting points of view and at the very least it made me feel better.

Now 6 months later I sit here learning to be part of a new ‘family’ lead by people who have done what I hoped more people would that is hired someone from outside their industry and actually made a point of welcoming the outside point of view. That’s all well and good – I am loving my job and the people I work with are being very supportive in sharing the industry specifics I will need to be effective.  However, it got me thinking about the behaviour one needs to exhibit in order to firstly deliver the role but more importantly make the risk those hiring took pay back and bring the ‘non-industry insight’ to bear.

So far the list is only five items long but here goes:

1. Be comfortable looking stupid

There are loads of things you don’t know that you will need to know. Asking means admitting you don’t know and that’s OK. Don’t let the fear of looking stupid or being the one person who doesn’t know stop you asking. The most powerful impact could be in asking a question about something that everyone takes for granted but a fresh pair of eyes that can see differently – it could be a game changer.

2. Share but don’t drone…

Count to yourself how many times you start a sentence with “When I worked for X” or “When I worked in Y”. Using your previous experience and providing some validation to an observation is essential but be aware of the risk of switching people off or worse have them actively whingeing about all the ‘company X’ stories

3. Don’t let specifics drown your perceptions

Yes each industry or sector has a lot of specifics and part of being able to deliver a role will be understanding those specifics but largely speaking people are people and don’t let the specifics drown out or cloud your perceptions – they are probably right.

4. Some people will defend with specifics

If people around you feel threatened either by your role or a new person in the environment they may use the specifics to try and defend a position or even to challenge your validity. That’s OK. Let them defend, understand their defence, don’t swing at the pitch but use this to build your understanding of the organisation and the individual

5. Take the time

Not knowing stuff is OK (according to my therapist!!) and whilst we all want to feel confident and part of things it’s OK to take time to understand the organisation, it’s culture, it’s people and it’s secret language. Don’t beat yourself up or let your lack of instant understand damage your confidence – take the time.

So 3 weeks done and my security pass hasn’t been revoked yet. If anyone has anything ideas of things to add to this post I would be grateful because sitting and writing it has been as much about me focussing on what I need to do as sharing any insight I may have and with that I will leave you to a new week and kick off week 4 and learn several new three letter acronyms!



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3 responses to “The one where I’m now in the family

  1. John Boreham

    Sound advice – as ever Rob

  2. Glad your security pass hasn’t been revoked yet Rob. I’m in a similar situation. A new job in a new industry. I totally echo your previous comments about the narrow mindedness of recruitment decisions that are based on hiring industry specific people. It leads to convergent and narrow thinking and a lack of creativity. And those same organisations then go get their training people to run creativity workshops. It’s funny really, if it wasn’t so damn stupid.

    Anyhow, I’ve been lucky enough to work in several different sectors. Retail, higher education, digital media and advertising, and now hospitality. I love the variety. I also love noticing the similarities. As you say, people are people and the essence of business is the same: a P&L is a P&L.

    Your list of advice is good. What would I add?
    1) Enjoy it. Enjoy learning about how your new industry works. It’s interesting to find out the about the nuances of a different sector, to see what the culture is like.
    2) Adapt and seek to understand, but don’t change too much. I.e. people hire you for you and for the ways in which you are different. In the diversity of people within a team/company lies the magic. The different perspective and ways of doing things that you bring is valuable. If you change and conform completely to your new surroundings, then that value is lost.

    I’m sure there are more things to add. But email calls 😦

  3. Pingback: New girl part 2 | Floraworks

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