Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Titles Without Substance.....

Yesterday, I met a friend of mine for lunch who I haven't seen in quite some time. She started with a new company and has been adjusting to the new job and the new culture of the company. It's an unique culture -- some of it very good and not seen in many companies today. They hold people accountable and believe in letting their employees question decisions other employees make no matter their title.

Personally, I find that attitude somewhat refreshing. Yes, it may put some people on the defensive mode when answering a question, but it's good when people can articulate why they have done something as it opens a discussion to teach others or have others offer advice which may change the way you do things.

Over the years, I've worked for both start-ups and large corporations. The 'team' mentality has been shoved down my throat so far, I remember telling the CEO of a start-up I had screwed up and he corrected me and said "we screwed up, there is no 'I' in team". I politely corrected him and said "I'm sorry, I disagree. I believe in bettering the team, but in order to have our team be successful, I need to accept the accountability of the problem I created so we can solve the situation."

As the years went on, I witnessed companies where employees bought their clothes at the teflon store. Nothing ever stuck to them. No one ever created a problem, said the wrong thing, they just finger pointed. It's frustrating.

Maybe I also enjoy the philosophy of my friend's company because often people are given titles/positions they are not ready for. Don't get me wrong, I do believe every job has a learning curve. I believe in promoting within, but also believe people should be promoted because they are capable of handling the position and bring something to it. I guess I believe in people paying their dues.

A company where co-workers question your choices would easily weed out the employees who aren't qualified for the position. I recently asked someone a straight forward question about their position and what they were doing to improve a situation. I was looking for their solution to the problem and was told "we want to work smarter not harder".

Seriously?

Any seasoned professional would understand this is a given when creating a solution, and know this is not an answer and to NEVER include this phrasing when answering a direct question (although, I'm guessing you might include this phrasing if you're in politics).

I wonder how quickly this person would crumble at my friend's company? They'd probably be eaten alive.

8 comments:

lacochran's evil twin said...

It's usually pretty obvious when people haven't thought about the question you're putting to them. Cliches. Catch phrases. Jargon. Silly.

Little Ms Blogger said...

Lacochran's Evil Twin - Oh they had time. This response was emailed to me.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Yeah, it sounds like they didn't have much to back up that overused phrase. Hmmmm...

Brian Miller said...

nice...i like a lot of the entrepreneurial models that companies are using right now...

Little Ms Blogger said...

Liz - I think it's a tie between that phrase and "think outside the box" as most overused phrases. At one company, co-workers and I often played 'bullshit bingo' during meetings. It really helped pass the time when you be forced to be in a meeting with no given agenda.

Brian - I miss working for start-ups for that reason. They move faster and open to more ideas from employees.

JeannetteLS said...

I think that's one of the things I loved about writing for a large university's graduate school of engineering. I had my prejudices, but soon found just that experimentation in culture and eagerness to get up from some mistake, brush themselves off and figure out how to do better. The true entrepreneurial spirit I think invites questioning, and almost relishes the mistakes as ways to make bigger strides. I miss it. True learning. A team spirit that doesn't require the clich├ęs, and allows for individual creativity

P said...

I do like this idea, but at the same time I can't help but think if the company encourage people to question anyone regardless of what position they are in, does that not then put the company's recruitment policies into disrepute?

Little Ms Blogger said...

Jeannette - It really does inspire growth IF you're big enough to put your ego aside and really listen.

P - private companies have a lot more freedom than public ones. There are no shareholders to answer to.