Friday, 21 December 2012

Let it Go, Let it Go, Let it Go!

I have a friend, a Christian businessman, with whom I agree (surprise!) when he says, "Let it go!"

He is referring to the holiday season debate - whether his team should implicitly recognize Christmas by wishing all of their many customers a Merry one, or with a non-denominational "Happy Holidays!" or "Seasons Greetings!"

His answer to his people is simple.  "Wish our customers a "Happy Holidays" in respect that their beliefs may not be your own, and vice versa.  Wish a "Merry Christmas" to those whom you know celebrate."

"Live your Christian beliefs, those you have (if any), year round.  Live to company standards of integrity and respect for each other and our clients year round, these are non-negotiable."

His place of business is decorated for the season, as are the back offices.  Christmas trees and coloured lights abound.  "It's just good business," he says.  He doesn't see the point in getting all worked up over the way others celebrate when he goes out shopping himself.  "If it (Christmas decor) was offensive, I wouldn't do business with them, that's all.  So far I've never seen anything offensive to the Christian belief.  Just a whole lot of good cheer."

Most of all, when confronted with this new Christian activism that insists on shaming people into recognizing the Christ in Christmas, he just smiles and sings, "Let it go, let it go, let it go."

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Strategic Discomfort

There will be times in our careers when we are confronted with situations we'd rather not face.  Sometimes it's because we're in over our heads, other times we're blindsided, still others it's a train wreck in progress and we don't even realise it until it's too late.
  • The incredibly bad boss who seems bent on making the lives of every living being miserable by his very presence
  • The corporate sociopath who operates according to her own agenda, bringing down bosses and peers in her single minded ruthlessness
  • The sales presentation gone awry because a customer takes Kevin O'Leary style rudeness as his aspirational modus operandi
  • And whatever is occupying your head as a result of the actions of others...
One way to survive is to treat such hardship as a learning experience.  I am suggesting that it be embraced in a "gonna put this on my resume" type challenge.  Research it, read about it, practise it, consult with others and develop a strategy that goes beyond coping or surviving, to thriving.  Develop strategy by reading articles like this one about bully bosses: 12 Smart Ways to Deal When Your Boss is a Bully

It's one way of making the best of a bad situation, of turning other people's shortfalls into our own professional gain.  It's a great way to take back control.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

But What Will They Say When We're Gone?

I heard the tale of a long serving assistant around whom the entire operation revolved.  Nothing moved unless it had her stamp of approval, and in time nothing was created without her fingerprints all over it.  Give up any bit of control?  Not on her life.  People quit doing business with, or working for the company rather than deal with her.  And she was not management, not front line and possessed only institutional knowledge - she knew what she knew because it was all that she knew.

Eventually she overstayed her welcome, making one too many demand, playing one too many department heads against each other, and she was forced to flee to "a better job."  Many people mourned her loss and wondered how the company would ever survive without it's "heart and soul."  Many, many more kept silent and held their breath until she had walked out of the door for the last time.

And then life went on.  People discovered work unfinished.  Her manager began to realise just how many times she had thwarted his leadership.  The final landmine left for her successor was defused.  They're still cleaning up the mess she left behind, and some relationships will never be healed.

I like to occasionally use "hit by a bus" thinking - what would they find if I didn't have time to clean it up one last time because I was unexpectedly hit by a bus on my way back from Starbucks?  Am I proud of what I would leave behind?  Is there anything that needs to be fixed/cleaned up/finished RIGHT NOW?

Most of us are not like the exec assistant in our story.  They'll say good things about us after we're gone.