Looking back on past holidays, you may remember what it felt like to be stuck at the kid’s table. But you’re a grown up now – so how come you’re still sitting at the kid’s table at work?
I was recently interviewed by Anita Bruzzese for the Intuit blog. I figured you folks would like the perspectives from that interview. Here you go:
Take a look at comments posted on workplace blogs or on social media sites, and it won’t be long before you find an employee complaining that they’re often left out of the loop regarding business decisions.
These employees complain that their boss doesn’t keep them informed of strategic business decisions, what’s in the pipeline for the next year or even how their work is part of the bigger picture. Senior leaders are even worse, they contend.
It’s a frustration Mike Figliuolo has heard before, and he has a simple response: “That’s crap.”
Figliuolo, managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC, says that employees who complain that they don’t know what is going on within their company simply aren’t trying hard enough.
“If anything, it’s easier than ever,” he says. “Just look at your company’s organizational chart and find someone about two levels above you. Send that person an email and ask them to send you their department’s latest strategic plan.”
With that information, you’ll be able to see what’s going on and then be able to ask additional questions to determine how you or your department are affected by pending plans or possibly involved in a new initiative.
“It’s just pure laziness to sit back and say, ‘I’m not being included,’” he says. “If you can’t take the initiative then sure, you’re going to sit at the kid’s table and eat chicken nuggets.”
An inclusive culture
Zappos is a company known for being transparent with workers. Employees not only receive detailed information about the company’s performance, but are encouraged to share information about the company. CEO Tony Hsieh often shares company news via Twitter and Facebook, even announcing the layoff of 124 workers in 2008 via Twitter.
Some employees may conclude that since they don’t work for a company like Zappos, they’re forever doomed to sit at the kid’s table because their company’s culture is different. But Figliuolo argues that many employees simply have never “reached out” to try and become better informed, and “they just expect management to spoon feed them.”
But if you’re an employee ready to become a strategic influence at your company, then Figliuolo suggests:
Step into someone else’s shoes. Instead of looking at an issue only from your perspective, try thinking of it from the position of someone in another department. For example, maybe you’re an expert on the minutiae of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. But “that’s not going to get you invited to the table,” he says. The key is understanding how Sarbanes-Oxley is going to impact the CIO and plans for future development in that department. If you can explain that Sarbanes-Oxley is going to impede those plans, then you’re going to get attention because that person’s agenda is threatened, he explains. “You get invited to the adult’s table when you bring something from another perspective,” he says.
Do your homework. Spend time talking to those in other departments to learn their top issues and concerns. Ask them to share their annual plans, which show priorities. This will help you refine how you can specifically add value when offering a new perspective or plan.
Never stop learning. Maybe your specialty is in sales, and you know nothing about IT. But there is a treasure trove of information online and through your company’s own website. The more you understand how your entire company functions, the challenges and industry trends, the better you can always be in position to offer insight or advice that can be seen as strategically important.
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