Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 18 – the jobs and careers context 17

This is my 18th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-17.)

I began systematically discussing the new hire probationary period in Part 14 of this series, and have been focusing on day one on a new job since then, with a particular focus on your first formal meeting with your now direct supervisor there: your new immediate boss there.

I turn here to consider your day two there and beyond, and with an at least initial to-address list of topic points that bear consideration in that longer timeframe context, and in the overall context of this communications and negotiations-oriented series. I have to add here that the issues that I raise in these points at least begin to hold importance on your day one at a new job, but the flurry of tasks and responsibilities faced on day one can in effect mask them by limiting any real opportunity to reach out and connect with others who you will find yourself working with once you are more settled in. But how you address them and on an ongoing basis will significantly shape both your new hire probationary period with this employer, and all that follows as you continue working there:

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in.
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them.
3. Networking for success in the workplace.
4. Negotiating access to the resources that you need, as an ongoing workplace and career requirement.
5. Plan B planning and execution, and being prepared for the unexpected (and the importance of finding and addressing solutions to problems, and not assigning blame for them.)

All of these topic points crucially involve you’re reaching out to a widening group of colleagues and stakeholders, and in-house clients who you would provide direct value to through your work there. And all five of those complexes of issues and opportunities, crucially depend on how well you can and do communicate and on how well you can come to be seen as being an effective communicator and negotiator. There, being both capable in reaching your own goals, and fair in acknowledging the needs and priorities of others are important. And how you balance these often competing approaches, will play a significant role in shaping what will become your lasting reputation at that job.

This is true whether you work hands-on and in non-managerial roles and primarily use your communications and negotiating skills when coming to agreement with your manager as to goals and priorities and timelines for reaching them. That applies if you are negotiating access to shared, bottleneck or otherwise limited resources, or working out terms under which a colleague with special skills would help you in competing one of your task responsibilities, and in ways that would effectively mesh with what they do too. Reciprocity and offering value to others in exchange for value received from them is important in all of this, and so is developing a reputation for being a colleague who pays it forward and who pays back for help received. And if you have joined this business in a managerial position, this will mean how you work with and communicate and negotiate with those who now report to you, and with your own managing supervisor, and with your same level peers at that business and with a host of others as well. Communications and negotiations always go out in multiple directions, and often in less expected ones at that. And how you conduct yourself and relate to others in any one direction can and will influence what can be possible in all others too.

Regardless of context faced, as so briefly touched upon there, this means you’re becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in, and as part of the solution to problems faced, and not as part of those problems themselves.

• This is all about finding an effective balance between fitting in and becoming a real asset that others can rely upon, and who they would want to be of help to as well,
• While still allowing yourself the time and other resources that you need to meet your own, personally faced work responsibilities too, and effectively and on time.

I return to a point that I made in Part 17, as to how the goals and tasks that you were hired to address, were in most cases arrived at. These were and are work responsibilities that your now-direct supervisor has come to see as holding high priority and significance for their own areas of work responsibility and for their own success at their job. And it is likely that their own direct supervisor sees these goals and tasks as important too, with their perspective on that and with their own sense of timing and prioritization carrying heavy influence on what your supervisor does and why, when working with you. And just as importantly, essentially all of the specific to-do list items that went into the job description that you responded to when applying for work there, and that have continued to be highlighted in all conversations with your now-manager, are tasks that they could not simply turn over to others already there, to carry through upon and no matter how important they are. And they are all, most likely, tasks that will of necessity continue on through and past the end of any realistically timeframed new hire probationary period.

• These are your goals and responsibilities now; you own them and are responsible for them. And I write here of you’re carrying them out and in ways that build bridges with the people who you work with, so you can be sure to have access to the resources and the support that you would need for that, insofar as it can be made available to you at all.

This, in one sense is all about work. But in another sense, and one that can be just as important and certainly in any longer-term sense, this is about building interpersonal relationships and even explicitly cultivated workplace friendships. Trust, to cite one of the bonds that brings teams together, is partly a matter of being able to assume that others will do their part of any larger effort entered into, and as reliably and fully as possible. But trust is also strengthened at the very least, by the acknowledged shared sensibilities of collegiality and yes – even friendship too.

Part of this is knowing when to bring non-work into a working context, and when to reach out supportively in that work context. Should you suggest team members going off-site to a local restaurant for lunch, to enjoy a shared meal and chat? This can offer real value when a more open and informal conversation in a neutral, convivial setting would make it easier to raise and discuss challenging issues. Should you offer to order lunch in because everyone might be getting hungry but everyone is facing some shared deadline too, and see themselves as facing a crunch time for that? Friendship in this sense is driven by an awareness and appreciation of need, and of the people facing it who you work with. And this is where the valued and appreciated of the first point of the above topics list that I have been addressing here, enters this narrative. Become valued and appreciated by showing that you value and appreciate too.

I am going to turn to consider the second topics point of that list in my next series installment:

• Business policy and business politics, and navigating them.

And I note in anticipation of discussion to come that this topics point is closely aligned to the first. Both of those points are shaped, and certainly for how they would best be addressed, by the corporate culture in place.

Think of the first point of the above to-address list as approaching on a more micro and immediately interpersonal level, what are at least very similar communications and negotiating issues to those that arise in the second point. And think of the second as approaching an at least strongly overlapping set of issues to those that arise in Point 1 of that list, but from a more macro and large scale perspective than would directly apply to the first (while still involving more immediately interpersonal elements to it too.) And neither of those topics points can be fully addressed absent an understanding of the corporate culture in place, and how it plays out on a day-to-day basis, and certainly in more normative contexts but also when facing the unexpected.

In anticipation of further discussion to follow, I will interject a new basic topics point into the above list after addressing Point 2: dealing with and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected. Then I will continue from there with a discussion of Point 3 as listed above, and will proceed from there.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And for relevant background and a systematic discussion of the new hire probationary period as a whole, as organized from day one on, see : Starting a New Job, Building a New Foundation, as can also be found at Page 1 of that Guide (as its postings 73-88.)

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