8/5/2014

I get really frustrated at work sometimes.

I’ve been with my current employer for almost six years now. I started in the IT department and just over two years later I moved into a vacant position left by the outgoing Transportation Coordinator. I was a good fit for the position because A) I’m a fast learner and B) I have good customer service skills. They knew I could gracefully and quickly transition into the new role. They basically custom-designed the new role for me, which I took as a great complement.

In my new role, I was given (as a result of my willingness to head up projects) a lot of responsibility. I pushed for change and, in some cases, was given time and resources to commit to those new projects. And some of those projects have come to fruition, and others are in the works.

But my frustration has been a result of several things, things within and outside of my control.

First, I feel like we don’t move fast enough. Take, for example, a project I ran to create a Twitter account for our organization. I’m an avid Twitter user and I believed that it would be beneficial for our organization to use Twitter to broadcast out news and information. It took a lot of legwork to get that account created and managed. And, unfortunately, it hasn’t been as well-used as I wanted it to be. But at least it was done. A second effort to expand our use of Twitter was shot down. I felt like our leadership was standing in the way of progress. One of the main concerns I heard from our head honcho was that we just didn’t have time for Twitter. That was frustrating, but today I realized that it wasn’t his fault for thinking that way. I always have time for Twitter so I didn’t see it as an issue, but looking at it from an outside perspective, from the perspective of someone who has never used Twitter, using Twitter for the sake of using Twitter would be pointless. I should have pitched the idea differently.

We don’t have time for Twitter. But we do have time for improving the way in which we communicate with our customers.

That same idea could be applied to a lot of things we do.

We don’t have time to use product X. But we do have time to improve the way we perform Y, which will happen if we use product X.

It’s all about focusing on the function, not the product itself.

Every organization wants to improve the way that they communicate with customers. Ours is no different. But instead of pitching an organizational blog, I should be pitching the idea of improved transparency and the sharing of news and information in real time. A blog just happens to be the product that would allow us to accomplish that goal.

I also get frustrated about our culture. We have a culture that shies away from thinking outside the box, or doing things differently, or trying to stay at the leading edge of innovations that would be beneficial to our customers. We are very “stuck in the mud”. Now, that may be changing – a recent retirement at the top has allowed some new ways of thinking to take over, and we’ve seen some (small) progress made in recent weeks. But I think that a wholesale culture change has to occur. It has to start at the top and the bottom at the same time and meet in the middle, buy-in from everyone. How does that happen? I have no idea. But my complaining isn’t going to do anything.

In my frustration, I’ve stopped pushing. I’ve also stopped leading by example, which is one of the few ways that I can lead in this current role. I’m nowhere near the top of the decision-making tower, so it’s going to be the way I lead from below that makes a difference.

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