The Strategy Addict is a series of articles written by Shane Snively.
CHANGE OF PLANS
First, a quick thank you to ALL THE READERS for the positive feedback from my last blog post, “Sharing Is a Value System.” Many people asked me to elaborate on certain aspects of that article, so here I go, writing my first add-in. “Add-ins” are tools Microsoft offers in Word, Excel, and other apps, to improve the user experience. My idea is that this article (on the sharing add-in), and others like it, will improve your “user experience,” i.e., help my articles make more sense.
Stay or Go?
One reader called to tell me that if he tried to create a sharing MVP award like I suggested in my last post, he would be ostracized at work—simply banished. Unfortunately, some companies just don’t have a culture of sharing and collaboration. The business as a whole suffers, and working in such places isn’t that pleasant, either.
If you find yourself in a setting like that, you have two choices; you can stay or you can go. If you stay, it’s up to you to get the ball rolling on a true sharing culture. You can become a “sharing leader.” But if you read Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451 and think it sounds like where you work, it’s time to get out and go find someplace where “collaboration” isn’t a dirty word.
If you decide to go, how will you find a great company with a great culture? I start my search by (1) reading the customer reviews and (2) reading employee reviews–if available. Customer comments tell me how management handles people who are unhappy. Are they accommodating? Are they concerned? Are they proactive? Companies that prioritize client engagement tend to be more dynamic and more open to feedback generally, including internal feedback. When you hear about someone in management using a bad experience as a learning opportunity to make an organization better, you are on the right track.
The employer review boards, like Glass Door, are a little trickier, since people seldom post to those boards except to complain. You don’t get a complete, fair picture of the company that way. But if you read enough reviews, you will start to see patterns, and you can draw certain inferences about the company from those patterns.
When you find a company that looks promising, if you get an interview, you can ask for clarification about any remaining concerns you might have from reading customer and employee reviews. Be sure also to ask a lot of questions on the three big C’s: Communication, Collaboration, and Continuity.
Be a sharing leader
A sharing leader is anyone who works to foster a culture of sharing and collaboration. Start with leading by example—share. You can share credit, share resources, share ideas. Share your troubles by asking for help. Share your successes as much as you can.
Being a sharing leader is much easier if you have some kind of leadership position in your company. You can then encourage sharing directly by assigning shared tasks, facilitating collaboration, and rewarding those who work well with others.
If you are in management, and especially if you own the company, and you’re trying to improve the sharing culture, you’re going to have to take a look at what you were doing before to discourage sharing. It’s your company, so you were part of the problem. You’re going to have to change in order to become part of the solution. Without self-awareness, leaders cannot grow. Any self-deception will stand in your way and block your company’s progress.
Why are things the way they are now? Why don’t you have a sharing culture yet? If you cannot see the roadblocks in front of you, how do you avoid them? You can’t, so read the Arbinger Institute’s Leadership and Self Deception.
Be the change agent.
Simplest way to get sharing started if you are not the leader
I would go give your manager the Hard Hat by Jon Gordon. This book is insanely inspiring. I have watched very “me-centric” managers/business owners change, making huge shifts in paradigms after reading the book. Jon Gordon lays out a roadmap with the 21 lessons he learned from George Boiardi about being a Great Teammate. If your manager reads this book and you still do not see a change, you’d better check his pulse and then call the ER.
More seriously, you can be the best teammate, even without the best team. It is hard, but you sticking to it does change things.