Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 19 – the jobs and careers context 18

This is my 19th 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 1-18.)

I began discussing the new hire probationary period in this series in its Part 14, and day two and following for that in Part 18. More specifically, I offered a to-address list of topics points there, adding one more entry to it towards the end of that posting, which I repeat here (as so augmented) for purposes of smoother continuity of narrative:

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in.
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them.
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected.
4. Networking for success in the workplace.
5. Negotiating access to the resources that you need, as an ongoing workplace and career requirement.
6. 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.)

And I offered at least a preliminary response to the first point of that list in Part 18 too. My goal for this posting is to continue on from there and offer at least an initial take response to Point 2 of this topics list. And I will also expand a bit on what I offered there regarding that first topics point too, while doing so. And I begin doing so by repeating and expanding upon a point of contention that I offered towards the end of that installment, that serves to connect Points 1 and 2 of this list together.

I briefly wrote there of how Point 1 of the above list, addresses communications and negotiations issues at a business from a more micro interpersonal level, while Point 2 addresses them from a more macro, overall organizational level. The two cannot in fact be separated from each other in practice, even as they seem to divide out relatively cleanly and clearly as conceptual understandings. Communications and negotiations always take place in at least significant part, on an interpersonal level and even when this involves bringing in and securing at least working agreement with several or many others through the same more widely broadcast and shared initiatives and communications. And when this takes place in a business setting with the systems of processes and expectations in place, and the systems of rank and hierarchy that are in place and in the context of the corporate culture that is in place, even individual to individual communications and negotiations that are explicitly entered into “under the radar” of those shaping constraints still have to at least acknowledge them. And the group dynamics of cliques, and of who routinely communicates with and works with whom enters into all of this, and certainly when these conversations and negotiations cut across what would more generally be considered the usual lines of affiliation and in-group alignment that are in place.

Start out by actively and proactively learning as much as you can about the community and the culture that you now work in. You should have at least begun learning about these issues and thinking through their implications during your job search that led to you’re working with this business, but actually working there opens up whole new avenues of opportunity for gaining insight into this workplace community and how it does and does not function.

The formally spoken and written rules of the business as laid out in its official policies and practices, and along its table of organization only contain a part of this crucial knowledge. But it is the tacitly accepted but rarely if ever stated assumptions that all real insiders there, carry with them and work from that can really matter here. And that set of assumptions and that set of all but axiomatic presumptions underlie and inform the corporate culture in place.

Some of this is going to be as overtly obvious as the basic dress code that is followed. And to be as clear as possible there, an intentionally informal dress code as for example might arise in a high tech startup can become as rigidly enforced a uniform-requiring standard as any conservative suit and tie, white shirt only standard might be in a corporate executive setting. So violate either at your explicit peril – and then, only if you have specific contextually important reasons for doing so (e.g. for when meeting on-site with a supply chain partner business or a business-to-business client, where dressing according to their accepted and expected standards would increase the chances of you’re reaching a more favorable agreement with them.)

That said, I am not writing about the often unwritten and unspoken expectations and standards of the workplace as if they constituted a minefield, as much as I am writing of them as a source of understanding and opportunity. What are the basic assumptions in place where you now work? How can you best navigate them and even thrive in them, turning them to your advantage?

Let me take that out of the abstract. I have cited in this series, and in Part 18 in particular of working collaboratively with your colleagues, and on tapping into their expertise and experience as you carry out your own work. How, and even when and if you can do this, depends on what types of interpersonal relationships you can build with others around you and on an individual to individual basis. But just as importantly, you need to plan and act in terms of how effectively the corporate culture permits and supports collaborative help within the organization per se, and you need to plan and act in accordance with how supportive collaboration is defined there. A corporate culture that is based on everyone there performing as a rugged individualist, is not in general going to be as openly supportive of peer-to-peer collaborations as you might expect in a socially connected and collegial atmosphere – as a general broad brushstroke rule. But even there, what works best and what can be done would depend entirely on how you frame and present what you seek to do and how and why.

Look for ways to collaborate as a matter of exchanging equal value, in a rugged individualist setting, and not in terms of going into a colleague’s debt where any repayment would only come later and under still unspecified circumstances. Frame your effort to secure active support in terms of what you can and would offer in return, and in terms of building mutual benefit. And in contrast, look more in terms of building community-supportive collaborations in a more socially interconnected workplace community, where longer-term obligations held and honored can become the ties that bind them together. In either case, to pursue these two briefly sketched out example situations:

• Chose who you would approach for such help on the basis of your emerging understanding of them as individuals, and not just in terms of their particular skills and experience held.
• And approach them, if you do, with an awareness of their work schedules and the pressures they are currently under too, and their needs and not just your own.

The six topics points of my above-offered to-address list are all closely interconnected, so I will of necessity have more to say that would be relevant to Points 1 and 2 as I continue on and begin delving into Point 3. I will turn to that point in my next series installment:

• Dealing with and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected.

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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