Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Under New Management

Three days left. Some people reply in shock at the fact that I have travelled 125km each way to work for 2 years. I've been happy to do so. Why? Because I love my job...and even more,...I loved my managers. I see job satisfaction as a 3-fold partnership: 
  1. The work that you carry out each day in terms of your responsibilities and accountabilities,
  2. The management and team that you have the opportunity to work with and learn from, and

  3. The organization as a whole in terms of their credibility, reliability and mission.

In my last two roles I have had the extreme pleasure to work for some amazing people. My direct managers have been inspirational. In a world where there is no lack of leadership and management books being read but often little transferrence of those principals in practise, I wanted to take a moment to honour 3 former bosses and reflect on the things they taught me.

In my previous role, my VP was a dynamic, pragmatic, and sensationally witty lady. Her sarcasm was very similar to mine and our conversations made me smile. Her breadth of knowledge, pragamatic leadership, execution of consistency in policy and her integrity are all strong memories I have of working for her. She taught me to look at people's intentions to give greater insight to their actions. This has always stuck with me. In HR, as in life, we can be quick to judge others by their behaviour, while we judge ourselves only by our intentions. We react to a wrong behaviour without considering many factors including:
  • Did the individual intend to cause harm?
  • Did they have enough training to know what the standard is?
  • Was there proper follow-up for when the standard wasn't being followed?
This business principal has had strong ripple effects in my personal life as well. I'm a work in progress, but the foundation is being laid.
I was really sad when my time working for her came to an end. I didn't think I'd find anyone as great as her to work for again. And then I joined a new company, my current company, where I worked for another inspirational VP.

He was very much different than my first VP in his leadership style. He was quite laid back (in a very good way) and had a very simple and direct way of relaying information. He always had a very stable spirit to him, even when times were tough. You rarely heard him speak negativity. The decisions he made he strived to make in the fairest way possible. He did not speak quickly, but carefully weighed options. He was not one to speak just to hear his own voice. He was also not a micro-manager; he was likely the complete opposite. Very often I would hear, "Show me your plan. We'll review it and I'll back you up." That type of leadership caused me to have to look at the big picture of my role over and over, evaluating priorities, jusitfying judgement calls, and making decisions that I may not have felt ready to make. But I grew so much in my role because of the faith that he had in me. Even if I didn't make the right call, he was not a "point a finger" boss, rather "let's learn how to do this better the next time" boss. 

I had great loyalty to him. I worried that since I had two great bosses in a row, my luck would run out. 

During my time at this company, I was promoted to a role that reported into a Sr. Manager. My Sr. Manager was formerly a co-worker that I really got along with. In fact, I thought I got along with him so well, that reporting to him worried me. I didn't know if our relationship would change when I became a direct report. To my great delight, it didn't change at all. 

Because he sat right beside me, it was very easy to have plenty of communication about both work situations and personal stories. I am easily distracted in my work day, mostly due to the fact that I enjoy "people" distractions. But, I recognize I also have the ability to be a distraction. He never made me feel like I was bugging him. My questions regarding work situations were always regarded with time and consideration. I learned so much about being straight-forward yet compassionate with people from hearing the many conversations he had with people. Sometimes I would be heavy on the straight-forward side and light on the compassion side. He would then joke, "I've created a monster." He coached  taught me how to have tough conversations to ensure fair outcomes. He continually provided me with learning opportunities to challenge and learn. I never felt like our friendship as colleagues turned into a formal boss-employee relationship. His care and concern for me to grow, both professionally and personally, was clear and evident to me.

In my (young) career I have been and continue to strive to be a very honest and real person. I try to admit to my mistakes and weakness because I greatly enjoy feedback, both positive in negative. It makes me a better colleague both personally and professionally. I've had bosses who have recognized that, used it to their advantage (in a good way) and we have all come out better for it. (*One thing to note: I've enjoyed feedback because I know it comes from a person who cares about me being a better individual for my own sake, not one who is pointing out my faults just for the their sake).
At the end of this week, I'll be moving on to a new role. The next journey is an exciting one for me as I'm getting out of the office and into retail operations. This is where I truly get to mimick all the great things I've loved about my previous managers to inspire, encourage, teach and grow the people who I will be working with. It's going to be a road filled with fabulous life lessons and great successes! I'm looking forward to every minute of the journey!