As a new employee, you want to be effective in transforming your department into peak performance mode. But when striving to achieve your lofty goals, consider that your greatest assets will be relationship-based. Bringing in new ideas and methods requires people to accept change. But not everyone will embrace you or your ideas—regardless of whether you are right or have the best intentions for the benefit of the company.
One example of a very talented person that encountered this type of resistance was an engineering manager, Harry, whom we placed a few years ago. After getting caught up in a massive downsizing, we proposed him to a company in need of his abilities to head up a group of 20+ engineers.
Harry was told by the president right off the bat that his likelihood for success was very low based on the track record of those who previously held the same job. In the past five years, no-one was able to stay in the role beyond 12-month duration!
Un-phased by the warning, Harry accepted the challenge, even though the odds weren’t in his favor. After all, he had worked 30+ years in the engineering business, half of those years in management. Having made his way through the ultra-competitive manufacturing sector over three decades, he was very accustomed to handling complex problems and personalities.
Harry set out to learn about the company’s processes, infrastructure, tools and personnel through observation and one-on-one meetings. With his positive approach and genuine care for people, Harry began the learning process with his team.
He set out to know everyone on a first-name basis as well as their families, spouses, business goals and personal goals. One person in particular was a trusted source of information that consistently provided insightful guidance.
His tolerance for working long hours and dedication to the company was nothing short of amazing. There was no doubt about his commitment level. The group recognized his hard work ethic, and he quickly earned their respect for never asking more of others than he asked of himself.
Harry also established a weekly meeting where everyone was asked to participate in making suggestions on how they could improve the group’s efficiency. Although a few people felt their 90-minute weekly meetings were excessive, the department’s efficiency rose dramatically.
Not everyone embraced Harry with his enthusiasm and his ideas. Like most organizations entrenched in their way of doing things, change is challenging, especially when people feel threatened.
One department head in particular was not willing to fully share critical information that would ultimately benefit both groups and the company as a whole. It was an area that caused great friction between the departments as well as with top management. Top management was afraid of loosing this key person by supporting Harry’s ideas for a more cooperative level of information sharing. They do support one another but it’ not optimal.
No matter how prepared you are for achieving your objectives in a new position and company, you will likely encounter a few unknowns that may cause you heartburn. Understanding the group dynamics and leveraging everyone’s abilities and strengths was critical to Harry’s success in increasing productivity.
Feeling valued and excelling in a position is important but not everyone is going to share your same views or be supportive of your cause. Time will tell as to just how well you align with the company, its primary mission, and those people you work closest with.
As long as you are doing what you feel is right, your mission will be clear—as will your conscience!