We (not the royal we, but the people I work with) have recently been through an office move. Lots of stickers on everything, drawers packed into boxes, shelves reassigned and a general state of upheaval. Whilst the office was being transformed I decided to employ by best attempts at channeling Sherlock Holmes in the search for a secret society I often hear reference to and have never found – they call themselves ‘the business’.
I must confess I wouldn’t want to be part of ‘the business’ because they are to blame for EVERYTHING. Anything and everything that people can’t or don’t want to do seems to be the fault of ‘the business’ so I can only think what a strange and dissociated bunch they must be…
Having worked in my current organisation for a little over 15 months I have never met anyone who claims to know or be part of ‘the business’ but yet some must be because something big enough and influential enough to block every kind of initiative and proposal, to ignore such great ideas and to general overlook everyone MUST have some members. Maybe it is so secret that people can’t even admit to being part of it?
Sorry? Everyone is WHAT? Everyone in the organisation is part of ‘the business’? This can’t be true! ‘The business’ ignores everything and everyone, doesn’t it?
Oh, it isn’t a secret society that no one can join? What do you mean it’s made of teams and groups and they are made up of individuals?! This can’t be right because that would mean that every individuals contribution makes up the actions of the business. That everyone has the opportunity however small to influence the business. That it is not a static thing that no one can alter but a dynamic thing made up of the collective efforts of all who are part of it. Well this really is quite strange…
OK, odd one-sided conversations aside, I often hear ‘the business’ being blamed for a lot of things and whilst I understand at times it’s difficult to influence a big complex organisation maybe, just maybe it’s not about one attempt and then futile resignation (possibly in both senses of the word). Surely if governments can be influenced by public opinion then organisations can be influenced by stakeholders – and if you don’t think you’re a stakeholder in your organisation then think again!
The next time you are about to blame ‘the business’ for something stop yourself, take a moment and ask yourself the following question,
“What could I do about it?”
- It may be you need to talk to some other people and get them onboard with your idea
- It may be you need to contribute to a meeting or forum where bigger more influential people will be listening
- It may be you need to try something different and build consensus and influence on a positive result
- It may be that you need to be brave and pluck up the courage to challenge someone in authority
Someone once said to me that if I didn’t vote in an election I gave up all right to complain about the activities of whomever won. Before you blame the business ask yourself if you voted…
So this blog turns 2 years old today…
I am minded of Ronnie Barker who used to end most episodes of ‘Open All Hours’ with the line “…it’s been a funny day” and I would agree it’s been a funny two years. From a hotel room room in Hong Kong in a state of panic about my Masters project to here in no state of panic whatsoever!
This is the 150th post (almost like I planned it) and all told it’s been read just shy of 25,000 times with over 500 comments. Thank you all.
I was thinking about how to mark the occasion and was going to post links to the posts that have been read most over the past 2 years. Then thought what a dopey idea that was as the chances are you could have already read them. Instead I’ve found 5 posts from the past two years that I enjoyed writing but for reasons either of a) poor writing b) poor titles c) poor timing or d) just being poor got a little overlooked so here goes:
1. The one with the divine discontent – my thoughts on that feeling of something never really being good enough
2. The one with Billy Connolly & Recruitment – my thoughts on the shock absorber that is the corporate recruitment process and how it impacts candidates
3. The one with 2IC – my thoughts on that all important Second in Command role
4. The one with influencing chess – a shared experience about how someone helped me improve my ability to influence people and agendas
5. The one with some perspectives – how a different point of view can make a huge difference (worth it just for the video clips!)
Thank you for your continued support
Last November I went to the CIPD Annual Conference in Manchester, in fact I’m going again this year but last year I was there purely as a blogger and was at the time not gainfully employed. I wrote a post at the time about people’s reactions to me given the lack of weighty job title. If you remember it…ummmm….well done! For the rest of you, you can find it here
Since getting stuck into my new role I have called some of ‘The Usual Suspects’ who will hopefully be doing some work for me and likewise some people have taken the opportunity to give themselves 6-9 months off from keeping in touch but have rediscovered their interest in communicating with me – for the life of me I can’t think why…
Having said that this isn’t a whinge about people wanting to contact someone who can spend money with their businesses (well not completely) but I wanted to make two points that for some of you will have you nodding your head and for others maybe an insight into the people you are pitching.
1. It’s been said before and it’ll be said again – networking is mutual, it shouldn’t be all one way. Don’t make contact just to sell, develop a relationship with the individual and maybe, just maybe something will come of it. If most people are like me then they look after ‘The Usual Suspects’ not just in their own organisations but with referrals and recommendations to friends and colleagues.
2. Introducing a new supplier to an organisation is not as easy as having a meeting, signing a purchase order and agreeing the work. ‘Landing’ a new supplier requires influencing the organisation that they are the correct people for the job, are credible and are better than the alternative/the incumbent. That requires two things on behalf of the person who may be your client – taking a risk and spending some personal collateral. They are staking part of their organisational credibility on you and they are likely having to use some of their collateral in persuading the other stakeholders to go with you. They are far more likely to do this for a) people they know and b) people they feel have a vested interest in something longer term than their next deal.
One of the first blog comments I ever made was in response to a blog posted by @TheHRD (I can’t find it now) he was in full swing about HR stepping up to the mark and getting a ‘seat at the table’. He deigned to agree with my comment (I think that was the first and last time) and my comment went something along the lines of stopping waiting to be invited and just barge your way to the table.
I have seen many tweets and several blog posts since then about HR getting access/licence to operate whether to be with respect to hierarchy, internal networks or sponsorship from on high. Every time I see something it reminds me of a conversation I had with a very experienced HR Director over 5 years ago who said “the CEO isn’t a fan of HR but we’re changing his mind”. Having observed that particular situation in the ensuing time I don’t think the CEO changed their mind. Weirdly, I met two HR Directors during my job search who uttered the same line almost word for word and whether they will be successful is yet to be seen but it always made my heart sink a little.
Let’s face it, if someone has risen to lead an organisation and is experiencing success then is there really an opportunity to REALLY change their thinking on the impact on an organisation that skilled HR professionals executing effective strategy can have? Whilst part of me can’t help but admire those who undertake these missionary HR roles I still find myself coming back to thinking about rather than fighting for a seat at the table is the magic really going to happen when an enlightened leader just invites you to sit down?
As I’ve written this I’m still not sure whether these thoughts just reflect my desire to not have to fight the tough influencing fight (and just get on with improving the organisation) or actually whether this reflects my personality and the type of work I want to do…hmmm more thinking to do but I can’t help thinking even if you manage to drag the horse to water will you ever get it to believe that drinking is the right thing to do?!