Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

The legacy of mentorship

I have written on a number of occasions in this blog about mentors and mentoring, and from multiple perspectives. In that I have addressed this complex of issues from the perspective of mentors and those explicitly mentored, and from the perspective of those who might see themselves as being left out of these arrangements. And I have discussed this complex of issues from the perspective of the businesses that mentoring might take place in and their policies and practices, and from the perspective of their corporate cultures as well where they might support and even facilitate such individually focused guidance, or challenge it as even just an acceptable possibility.

See for example, my earlier series: Developing Management and Leadership Skills in Others (as can be found at HR and Personnel as its postings 81 and following), as a working example of how mentoring can arise and take place. And I add here that I selected that particular background reference here as a relevant example for two reasons. First, this is an entire, if short series that is centered around the issues and challenges of mentoring and both for its How and Why. I have for the most part addressed mentoring in this blog as a recurring set of detail-level issues that I have added into other, longer series as special case contexts for their various lines of discussion. As such, most of what I have offered here on this has not been presented in as cohesively organized a manner as that series does, for mentoring per se. And second, I have chosen this series as a working example here because I focus on the positive virtues and values of mentoring in it, and a lot less on any possible implementation-level problems that it might bring with it too.

• I freely, readily acknowledge here that while mentoring can offer positive value and to all concerned,
• It can also become a masking label for nepotism or other forms of favoritism too, and that as such it or rather its use as a guise can become more of a problem than a positive solution.

Good managers: good leaders, look for talent and potential in the people they work with. And they seek to foster and encourage and develop those positive virtues, giving those who exhibit them, the opportunity that they would need in order to grow and develop to their fuller potential. This obviously helps those high potential employees who would be offered mentoring out of this. But just as importantly this helps those managers and supervisors too: the people who are most often in the best position to recognize untapped and undeveloped potential on their teams and who would be in a best position to act on that knowledge. And this type of mentoring help can also aid and facilitate the teams that these high potential employees work in too. Enabling the high potential members of a team to do more and to be able to do it better, can only improve the overall performance of all involved, and whether that means helping a hands-on non-managerial employee to start to develop managerial and supervisory skills as they work with their more junior peers there, or whether this means helping a higher potential hands-on expert who would continue on that track, to further develop their skills as they seek to advance their careers in a non-managerial direction. Mentoring as touched upon here, can help the business as a whole too – and certainly if it is merit and performance potential-based for who is brought into it, and not as noted above, simply a cover for bias and favoritism.

• Is mentoring egalitarian or is it elitist and exclusionary? That depends on how open and inclusive it is and on how fully it is based on merit and ability.
• And given the significance of perception as a shaper of resulting reality in anything like this, that depends on how palpably visible that lack of prejudicial bias is in it, for how mentors and mentees are selected and even encouraged to enter into this type of agreement.

I assume here, on the basic of my own direct experience as well as from my experience working with others, that mentoring can work and that it can in fact offer the types of 360 degree value that I have been writing of here. I know that it can because I have seen it work, offering value in essentially all directions. And I have seen how mentoring can offer value that is more lasting than any particular specific skills-oriented training option or opportunity might bring. New computer languages and coding skills in them come and go, to cite a more specific example there. But mentoring on how to more effectively develop and use soft people skills when working with the in-house clients who would use the software developed from that, to more fully understand their needs and issues and to more effectively secure buy-in from them on what a finished software product should do and how: that can offer value that outlasts any particular hands-on class-learned technical skills update. More than that, this type of more mentor-shared skill can be essential if those new coding skills are to offer any real value increase and for anyone involved, as they can increase the chances that a programmer actually work on the right problem and with a clear understanding of both how their software would be used and what it actually has to do.

I write this one-off thought piece at a point in time when I find myself looking back at my own career path: a perspective that is probably inevitable given how often I have been writing about jobs and careers in this blog, and given my longer-term career focus in all of that over the past few years. See my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development and its Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 continuations and particularly my most recent several series offered there, as of this writing.

And I find myself taking stock in what I have done and sought to do in all professionally, and certainly from my active work life and my career path there but also as I have sought to organize and present something of what I have learned from all of that, here in this blog. What, looking back, has held the most value for me? What do I look back upon as having offered the most meaning and value to those I have worked with and worked for? There are times when my decisions and actions have literally meant a difference of millions of dollars on a monetary scale for the value that I have brought to the table. I have helped a few businesses to both survive and thrive. But all of that, for the most part has involved my stepping in and taking action, or preventing potentially harmful action in very specific and time-limited contexts.

I have benefited from mentors and mentoring and in ways that I would find difficult to explicitly capture in a few briefly stated words, for how this has impacted upon me as a professional and as a person too. And I have always actively sought out opportunities to mentor others too, and with a goal of bringing at least comparable types of value to others as a matter of perpetuating the flow of value that I was allowed to benefit from in this way.

I titled this posting “the legacy of mentorship.” And looking back, the impact when positive, that I have had on others, in helping them realize more of their potential and in enabling them to succeed and excel … that activity is at the core of what I would like to think of as my legacy from what I have done professionally. That, at least potentially is my lasting legacy, or it is at the very least the closest that I might be able to come to actually creating one.

Mentoring is obviously not the only measure or means of longer-term and even lasting value that we can bring to the work that we do as our contribution to larger efforts and longer-lasting values. But it is one that I find myself thinking back on now.

So I write of this as a stand-alone posting, rather than as yet another installment in a longer series. And I write this as an off-day publication where I am currently writing my more regularly planned and written postings to go live every third day and with planning and writing for that mapped out way in advance.

My intention here is to continue posting every third day, with a couple of “special exception” series intentionally scheduled and written for off days as a matter of course. But I will also start adding in more individual pieces to this blog-length puzzle, like this posting for off-day publication too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 27 – the jobs and careers context 26

This is my 27th 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-26.)

I began addressing a list of issues in Part 25 that all can and do arise at least occasionally throughout a work tenure with an employer, that I repeat here as a whole for purposes of smoother continuity of narrative in what is to follow:

1. Changes in tasks assigned, and resources that would at least nominally be available for them: timeline allowances and work hour requirements definitely included there,
2. Salary and overall compensation changes,
3. Overall longer-term workplace and job responsibility changes and constraints box issues as change might challenge or enable your reaching your goals there,
4. Promotions and lateral moves,
5. Dealing with difficult people,
6. And negotiating possible downsizings and business-wide events that might lead to them. I add this example last on this list because navigating this type of challenge as effectively as possible, calls for skills in dealing with all of the other issues on this list and more, and with real emphasis on Plan B preparation and planning, and execution too, as touched upon in Part 23.

I have offered an at least a preliminary orienting response to Point 1 of that list, and its challenges in Part 25 and Part 26. My goal here is to turn to and address the above-repeated Point 2 now, separating out and separately addressing in it, a core aspect of a larger area of consideration that could perhaps fit just as easily into an overall Point 4 discussion, but that is Point 1-related too for what I would delve into here:

• Salaries and salary ranges as are more routinely set up and supported company-wide for specific jobs and specific job levels, as laid out according to the table of organization in place and as a matter of more standardized business-wide policy and practice.

Change, and certainly expansion of the set of work responsibilities that a hands-on employee or manager is now required to carry, can in fact quite arguably shift the job that they hold and are responsible for to what would arguably belong to a next level up job description-defined position there. That point most definitely applies where an employee of whatever level on the table of organization, is now required to take on and carry through on more extensive supervisory responsibilities for helping to manage less experienced “same level” colleagues, than their current job’s perhaps still-official description would call for. But this type of work shifting can also reach that point of change from increases in the diversity and complexity of new work required too. (Consider the possibility of a next level up, senior level position there, such as senior computer programmer, or senior accountant, if nothing else.)

Either way, these types of responsibilities shifts can at least in principle mean an employee facing them, now qualifying in principle for an officially recognized promotion and title advancement (as per Point 4’s issues.) But it is not at all uncommon for this type of work requirements shift to take place in businesses and business contexts where promotions per se, and the title and officially held position changes that they would involve, are not going to be allowed and as business-wide policy.

What I am setting up here in a Point 1 oriented, Point 2 context is a potential for real collision and disagreement, and a point of collision that is most likely to arise for the best hands-on employees and lower or mid-level managers at a business, who perform at the highest level at that place of employment, and who are more likely to see more work added, and more types of work added to their actual, day-to-day job description and regardless of whatever is on record for them more formally in the Personnel office as their job description in place. And that is where negotiations enter this Point 2 narrative, as I address it here.

First of all, what possibilities for accommodating change and for performance recognition could be available in this type of situation, at least in principle, even if some of them are not specifically going to be realistically possible for a given employer at least at a given time when this set of issues might come to a head? Think of that as a baseline starter question and think through the possibilities that it would raise through its answers, as inclusively and creatively as possible. And keep referring back to this starting point question, when and as a need for more inclusive consideration of the possibilities would prove to be of value.

Job title and position level changes comprise an obvious in-principle answer to that question, and one that would likely resolve this seeming impasse as that would open this high performer and their supervisor and theirs as well, to the possibilities of simply expanding salary-based compensation offered to match work actually required and performed. And this type of advancement would offer explicit recognition of what this business’ best performers specifically do professionally too, and in ways that would positively promote them both at their current job and as a career development step too. But as noted above, this type of resolution is not always going to be possible, so citing it as an option in a negotiations discussion can at times best be seen as raising a discardable negotiating point that would be set aside in order to gain more valuable for now – to the employee, concessions in return.

So what are some of the other points of negotiation that might be open to a hands-on employee or lower or mid-level manager if this one isn’t, that their supervisor and those higher up on the table of organization might be able to concede ground on? Addressing that question is where the real negotiations here will take place, provided that the employee seeking advancement along those alternative lines, understands the pressures and constraints that the people who they would negotiate with, face. And critically importantly here, that has to include their understanding something of the pressures imposed upon the people who they would directly negotiate with here, as created by the people who they report to who might not be at the negotiating table in person but whose decisions would shape what can happen there anyway.

Setting aside outright promotion per se, I begin addressing that second question and its possible answers, by noting that base salary and paycheck compensation comprises only one part of any employee’s overall compensation package, if they are eligible for essentially any non-salary benefits at all. This can mean negotiating for what are at least ostensibly just one time only performance bonuses for example, for reaching specific add-on work performance goals to at least some set and agreed to performance benchmark standards, and within specifically agreed to timeframes. It is not at all uncommon for bonus pay compensation to be handled on different lines of a business’ overall budget and completely separately from base pay considerations as such, so this can become an easy way out for avoiding the compensation range upper limits of a job title currently held, when promotion as such cannot be on the table and for whatever reason and when pushing past those upper allowed limits would force a promotion decision (e.g. when there is a business-wide freeze on title-based promotions until overall cash flow challenges faced by the business as a whole can be resolved, or because there is “no room at the next level up on the table of organization” for an advancement to it.)

• The primary point that I am raising here is one of flexibility and in both thinking through what you actually want and in how best to frame that when seeking to negotiate better terms for it, for yourself. Be flexible. Be creative. Know where the people who you would negotiate with can and cannot give ground. Know who they report to and who they have to gain agreement from for whatever they would agree to with you. And think and act in terms of what you can set aside and concede too, as desired goals (e.g. setting aside advancement to some specific new job title that you can argue in detail now fits your actual job held) so you can be in a stronger position to gain concessions and advancement in other directions that would hold value to you too.

And think through and understand both the short-term and longer-term consequences of the compromise agreements that you can arrive at here. Picking up again on my base pay versus bonus pay example as just noted above, if you seek out employment with a new business moving forward, they will primarily look to your base pay history in determining the salary range that they would offer you, and not to the fact that you might have been receiving bonus pay to supplement that, and even on what amounts to a regularly scheduled, frequent basis. Think of that fact as a longer-term career consideration that would or at least should accompany any more here and now job-level evaluation of consequences faced. I will return to the issues that I raise here, reframing them in a larger overall-life context when addressing Point 3 of the above list and make note of that here as further indication of how all of the points on that list interconnect.

Turning back yet again to the specific case in point negotiating option of base pay versus bonus pay, I am not arguing either for or against agreeing to a bonus approach for bypassing a business-wide imposition of base pay salary caps, and certainly as a matter of general principle. Increasing overall pay received through bonuses can in fact be a very good way to increase compensation, and certainly for outside consultants who come to face significant scope creep in what they would do on a job, as frequently happens. And it can offer real value to more standard in-house employees too. But think through and understand the issues here, setting aside more emotional considerations where possible.

I have already at least touched on a second possible resolution to the types of impasse that I raise here, in Part 26, when I mentioned support for further professional training as a means of increased overall compensation and performance recognition. And I add support for obtaining further licensure and certification to that too, that can be an outcome of that further training. This all has obvious longer-term career value as an option, as training and certification and licensure are all points of qualification that would explicitly go on any resume offered, and they would go towards meeting new work requirements as listed in a posted job description too. I add this negotiating option here as a single example of many possibilities that can be considered, for how these negotiations need not be limited to just direct consideration of title or cash compensation received.

I am going to continue this overall discussion as laid out in my above to-address list, in my next series installment where I will turn to consider Point 3 and its issues. And one of my core goals there will be to more explicitly expand out the range of issues that can and should be considered when negotiating overall compensation and recognition of work currently done, and I add when seeking opportunity from still higher level work opportunities and career step advancement too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 26 – the jobs and careers context 25

This is my 26th 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-25.)

I began addressing the first of a list of issues in Part 25 that can and do arise throughout a work tenure with an employer, many if not most of which are all but certain to come up for you if you continue working there long enough. And for smoother continuity of narrative and to put that first topics point into a wider perspective as will be discussed here, I repeat that list in full as:

1. Changes in tasks assigned, and resources that would at least nominally be available for them: timeline allowances and work hour requirements definitely included there,
2. Salary and overall compensation changes,
3. Overall longer-term workplace and job responsibility changes and constraints box issues as change might challenge or enable your reaching your goals there,
4. Promotions and lateral moves,
5. Dealing with difficult people,
6. And negotiating possible downsizings and business-wide events that might lead to them. I add this example last on this list because navigating this type of challenge as effectively as possible, calls for skills in dealing with all of the other issues on this list and more, and with real emphasis on Plan B preparation and planning, and execution too, as touched upon in Part 23.

To be more precise, I noted and set aside in Part 25, the issues and questions of precisely why work responsibilities change, and sometimes rapidly and very significantly so. And I began to consider and address the issues and questions of how best to manage this type of change, insofar as that can be possible, so as to make it work for you. This is where negotiating skills and processes enter this narrative and that is the core area of discussion that I will delve into here. As such, this posting is essentially entirely about balancing the work requirements that you carry with the resources and resource availability that you would require, in order to fulfill your new work responsibilities load, and effectively productively so, and on time. And it is all about you’re gaining agreed to support in securing access to those resources, when and as you need them. And I begin this line of discussion by briefly recapping a set of contingency issues that can arise when dealing with these issues, as offered at the end of Part 25 as a teaser for what would come here, with the issues and questions of:

• What you might be allowed to set aside from your current work responsibilities as you take on new responsibilities,
• What you might be allowed to shift to a lower priority in what you still have to do from your old and ongoing work, with more relaxed completion schedules allowed for that where necessary,
• And for what resources you might be allowed for doing all of this – specific colleague support included, when and as needed and with the schedule and responsibilities juggling that this would involve and the negotiations that this would involve too, included as you seek to accommodate their needs too.

I begin addressing these and related negotiations issues here, by explicitly making note of a detail that can become the critically defining source of success or failure for you in these discussions:

• The importance of knowing the goals and priorities that drive the people who you need to be able to negotiate with in this, and the pressures that would shape their decisions and their negotiating arguments,
• And thinking through and knowing where you can safely and even beneficially for you, back down and give the other side a point of victory in this, in order to gain greater leverage and credibility as a fair bargainer, when pressing for the points that you cannot comfortably give ground on, or relent on outright.

Both halves to that are crucial; you need to understand the people who you would negotiate with and as well as you know and understand your own positions and how you have arrived at them insofar as that can be possible. And you need to know what is and is not centrally important to you and what you can and might even want to give ground on, in establishing an equitable quid pro quo relationship that you can build mutual trust and agreement from. And that brings me directly to the issues of resource availability, where that can include materials, tools, information, timing allowances, specialized support from colleagues, or at times just an extra set of hands there to help manage the work flow, and more; this can include essentially anything that you would need to do your job that you do not carry in your own hands and your own skills and experience set, and that you cannot cover with your own unaided and unsupported labor on its own.

I begin addressing that complex of issues by posing some basic questions, that can easily be overlooked in the heat of the moment, when first confronted by what can come across as immediately impending and compelling need for change here.

• What new resources would you actually need?
• And for what specific tasks?
• And with what timing, and both for start time and expected duration? (Allow for a margin of extra time allowed there if possible.)
• And at what levels of need and with what relative priorities?

Start out by thinking this all through and both for possible resource availability and for task achievability, assuming here that you might not in fact be able to negotiate more favorable terms for how and when you would carry out this new work: completing it or reaching agreed to or at least required performance benchmarks for it. Start out by thinking through and knowing the consequences that you would face if you cannot in fact gain any of what you would seek to negotiate for here. Think of this as your first alternative to a negotiated agreement: not necessarily a best possible alternative there, but a starting point benchmark that you can plan and negotiate from where you at least know the consequences and the significance of not being able to bargain on any of the what, how, when or other details that you face in this.

• Now prioritize and know where you can give in on a resource request and where you really need some specific new, or new level of some specific resource that you cannot simply give on and still meet your new work requirements.
• And as a crucial additional detail here in thinking through those resources: all of the ones that I have cited by way of example, up to here in addressing topics Point 1 – all of them can be considered short-term insofar as they are all very task type and task implementation-specific, and access to them relates directly to your more effectively addressing your immediate here and now. But business supported professional training in new skills that you might need to master as you proceed in your work with this business, can be considered as a critically important new resource for you in this too, and a longer-term one. And depending on what New you face in what you would do now and moving forward in your work, this and other long-term resources can readily become among the most essential resources that you would have to be able to negotiate for and gain access to if you are to continue to succeed in your work there. Think in terms of short-term, here and now value, and longer-term value creating possibilities when considering and prioritizing and arguing a case for access to the resources that you would need.

I am going to continue this overall discussion in a next series installment where I will turn to consider the above Point 2 and its issues:

• Salary and overall compensation changes, and I add title and official recognition of the work that you would do there too, cutting ahead at least in part to at least make note of Point 4 and its issues as they relate to this.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 25 – the jobs and careers context 24

This is my 25th 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-24.)

I actively began addressing the issues that I would consider in this series, after an initial orienting Part 1, with a focus on finding and landing a new job and on the initial new hire probationary period that would follow that. Then I turned in Part 24 to consider more general contexts and issues that call for negotiating and related supportive skills, and of types that can and do arise throughout an employment tenure with a particular business or other organization. And I offered an at least initial starter list of scenarios that can and with time will arise and for many if not most employees and regardless of their level or type of responsibility there: hands-on non-managerial, or senior executive or somewhere in between. One of the key issues that that starter list touched upon and explicitly so, was job change and both through promotion and vertical shift up the table of organization, and more lateral shift – which might or might not serve as prelude to promotion too.

To clarify what I am doing here, and with some specific feedback in mind that I have received from earlier postings to this series as I do so, my focus in this is on jobs and work opportunities that you would want and that you would actively seek out, and both for working with a particular employer and for advancing through the ranks there, according to your abilities and your desires insofar as you can shape what transpires there from your actions and from how effectively you can communicate them. To be more specific, I offered a separate series in this blog and in its Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development that does in fact address the issues and challenges of difficult and problematical work places and working environments, where an emphasis might be more on staying or leaving, but with open eyes and a deeper awareness and understanding of the possibilities that you might face. For that, see: Should I Stay or Should I Go? as can be found at Page 3 of that Guide, as its postings 416-458. And see in particular, in that context, that series’ Parts 2-11. Subsequent series installments as offered there, focus more on “should stay” possibilities, successively examining a progression of differing workplace possibilities that you might seek employment at, as starter resources for considering how they might be good fits for you. Parts 2-11 explicitly raise and address the at least perhaps “should go” side to all of that.

This noted, I turn to and repeat my Part 24 starter topics list for moving forward in this portion of this series:

1. Changes in tasks assigned, and resources that would at least nominally be available for them: timeline allowances and work hour requirements definitely included there,
2. Salary and overall compensation changes,
3. Overall longer-term workplace and job responsibility changes and constraints box issues as change might challenge or enable your reaching your goals there,
4. Promotions and lateral moves,
5. Dealing with difficult people – see my Should I stay or Go series, among other resources already in place here (as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3),
6. And negotiating possible downsizings and business-wide events that might lead to them. I add this example last on this list because navigating this type of challenge as effectively as possible, calls for skills in dealing with all of the other issues on this list and more, and with real emphasis on Plan B preparation and planning, and execution too, as touched upon in Part 23.

And I explicitly turn to consider the above-repeated Scenario 1 that I began that list with, and scope shift if not always explicit expansive scope creep in what you are required to do as core responsibilities in your job, and how resources allowed for that might or might not change accordingly too. And let’s begin considering this from the perspective of what you would do, and then consider resources that you could turn to for that, in this type of shifting context.

At least as a starting point, it does not matter for purposes of this discussion what specifically leads to the types of work requirement changes that I raise here.

• Businesses evolve and change in what they do in fulfilling their basic business model, and change and evolve as a result of that in both the technology and the business processes that they have to have carried out. As a result of that, they have to be able to adapt to and build new ways and new priorities into themselves for what they do and how, operationally, and both to meet internal business needs and in response to marketplace change with its shifts in what their customers and potential customers demand. This leads to changes in what employees there have to do and in what they have to be able to do as far as their hands-on skills and experience are concerned.
• Overall workloads can shift, with that usually meaning “expand” and certainly as a business grows.
• And headcount does not always keep up with the changes that either of those two bullet points cover, meaning a same employee base already in place having to do new things and increased levels of already-held task responsibilities as well.
• People leave and are not always replaced – once again meaning employees in place having to do more, and at times with their doing what is at least new to them there too as a part of that.
• Project work can lead to ongoing new standard practice tasks and responsibilities, as can taking on new types of clients as the business shifts and evolves what it does and what it offers to market.
• And I have only touched upon a few of the possibilities here for how work responsibility scope creep and shift can happen, leaving for last, at least for now the consequences of a well known adage: “no good deed goes unpunished.” The best employees in a team, who perform the most effectively and consistently so can find themselves facing new work requirements – and precisely because those new requirements are considered important and of high priority and because they are very good at their jobs.
• But the Why of this does not really matter here, at least for now in this discussion – just the What of it, and for purposes of this series, the How best to respond to and manage this change so as to keep it manageable and effectively so for you.
• One of my early postings in this blog comes forcefully to mind for me as I write this: A Critique of the Peter Principle – career as a series of growth and transition phases. I had issues and possibilities of the type that I raise and address here in this series in mind as one source of the problems that employees can come to face, when writing that posting. I strongly recommend you’re reading that as supplemental to this discussion.

So let’s approach this from the Why perspective, by simply noting that the tasks that you are expected to carry out and required to do, are all viewed as important to your own direct immediate supervisor there. And the more significant of them from that perspective might very well be of real importance in the thinking of their supervisor too, and even higher up on the table of organization as well – at least as general considerations that your particular work responsibilities would actively support and enable.

Together and only considering the issues raised in this discussion up to here, this all means adding more to your to-do list and quite possibly with no accommodations made to make that more possible for you, let alone easier. And that is where negotiations enter this narrative:

• And for what you might set aside from your current work responsibilities as you take on new,
• What you might be allowed to shift to a lower priority in what you still have to do from your old and ongoing work, with more relaxed completion schedules allowed for that where necessary,
• And for what resources you might be allowed for doing all of this – specific colleague support included, when and as needed and with the schedule and responsibilities juggling that this would involve and the negotiations that this would involve too, included as you seek to accommodate their needs too.
• I will turn to this complex of issues in my next installment to this series, building from this posting’s foundational start to that, there.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 24 – the jobs and careers context 23

This is my 24th 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-23.)

I effectively began this series in its Part 2, focusing on the issues of negotiating and the overall negotiations process as they would apply in a job search, and when seeking out and landing a desired next step career move and employment opportunity. And I then switched from that, to consider the new hire probationary period that you would face once you achieve that first-step goal and actually begin working at this new job. I discussed a set of negotiations issues that arise as crucially important for this step in your tenure with a new employer, starting with Part 14 and continuing on through Part 23. And I concluded that installment, with a brief anticipatory note as to what will follow here, which I repeat with minor editing as a starting point for this next step in this narrative progression:

• And with that, I am going to turn to consider negotiating in general as a jobs and careers tool set. That means looking way beyond any initial new hire probationary period to consider entire tenures as an employee with a given business, where promotions and more lateral moves, and possible career set-backs and recoveries from them and job description evolution in general can bring you to a position and to holding work responsibilities with an employer that could not have been imagined when you were first brought on-board.

I went on from there to state that actually addressing the issues raised there, calls for focused effective negotiations and all of the preparatory work that you would carry out leading up to them, and all of the post-meeting follow-through that those negotiations would lead to if their expected and desired results are to be effectively carried out. And crucially importantly, and for all that will follow here:

• Negotiations of this type essentially always take place and hold meaning in the context of change, and its at least potential challenges and opportunities.

That point of observation certainly applies to the topic points and issues that I have been raising and discussing in this series up to here. And it will continue to hold merit, and even defining merit in what is to come here too.

I offer this posting as a transition point discussion in this overall narrative. And my goal for it is to organize and lay out in general terms, what is to follow in more detailed discussion through the next upcoming installments. That noted, what are some of the issues: some of the workplace events and occurrences, predictably expected and otherwise that would explicitly call for negotiations, and specific planning and preparation (where possible) for it? A few obvious example situations come readily to mind, including but not limited to:

1. Changes in tasks assigned, and resources that would at least nominally be available for them: timeline allowances and work hour requirements definitely included there,
2. Salary and overall compensation changes,
3. Overall longer-term workplace and job responsibility changes and constraints box issues as change might challenge or enable your reaching your goals there,
4. Promotions and lateral moves,
5. Dealing with difficult people – see my Should I stay or Go series, among other resources already in place here (as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3),
6. And negotiating possible downsizings and business-wide events that might lead to them. I add this example last on this list because navigating this type of challenge as effectively as possible, calls for skills in dealing with all of the other issues on this list and more, and with real emphasis on Plan B preparation and planning, and execution too, as touched upon in Part 23.

Change can be desired and positive, or negative and in ways that would best be addressed by reframing how they would arise and play out for you if nothing else. And change is always taking place and at least as a slow, more evolutionary process – with episodic bursts of sudden, more disruptive change added in too. So this posting and those to follow, are ultimately all about looking for change – desired or not, understanding it and its dynamics, and accommodating and influencing it where possible and appropriate. And I add the issues of more proactively addressing change to that more reactive vision of it and response to it, too.

And as a final thought for this installment, I explicitly make note of a crucially important point that I raised in my above restated anticipatory note for this posting, that will arise anew for every case in point context and event example that I would or could discuss in this narrative thread.

Negotiations, or at least effective ones that would continue to work for you longer term, are never once-and-done activities. Effective negotiations call for groundwork and preparation, and that is one of the key areas of an overall job experience where effective communications and networking become vital.

Negotiations do not generally end with a handshake and a permanently settled initial agreement, and certainly not for issues of any real complexity, or for ones that would extend out over time. New problems can and do arise, and older problems can mutate and evolve and with that including growth in their scope and impact. And all of that change and all of that potential for it can create pressing need for further negotiations, with fine tuning as to what was agreed to, if not more complete renegotiations on at least some critical issues that might have seemed settled. This, I have to add here, is also where gaps in what was initially negotiated can emerge too and with emerging need to address them too.

And misunderstandings and communications failures can arise in any step in that, and this means a need for further at-least clarifying engagement here, and to limit if not forestall the above noted problem types where that might be more proactively possible. So I will write in what follows, of negotiations as an ongoing process, and I will address the specific events and circumstances of my above list from that perspective.

I will start working my way through the above-offered to-address list in my next installment to this series, with its Scenario 1: changes in tasks assigned and in the requirements and resources offered to carry them out. (Note that change of the type raised here can mean you having to carry out what should have been a short-term task, long-term and with “carrying out” supplanting any possible “completing.” A lot of possibilities are included in that topics point, some of which will be more fully considered when addressing the above list’s Scenario 3.)

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 23 – the jobs and careers context 22

This is my 23rd 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-22.)

I have been working my way through a to-address topics list of points that are relevant to successfully navigating a new hire probationary period, since Part 18 of this, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative, with links added for where I have already discussed its first five points:

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in (see Part 18.)
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them (see Part 19.)
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected (see Part 20.)
4. Networking for success in the workplace (see Part 21.)
5. Negotiating access to the resources that you need, as an ongoing workplace and career requirement (see Part 22.)
6. And 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.)

My goal for this posting is to complete this narrative thread by turning to and addressing Point 6 of that list, though I have to note that I have already begun doing so in Part 22. To be more specific there, I focused in that posting when addressing Point 5, on what might more properly be considered a Point 6, Plan B example.

Start out with a primary Plan A approach in mind and with its more likely possibilities thought out, so you can minimize the likelihood of disconnects and inconsistencies that just proceeding ad hoc would more likely lead to. Plan out your basic, first try Plan A approach, and certainly when addressing what are likely to become complex overall challenges, to at least limit problems, and to help you better identify when they are arising and early, when they can be more easily corrected from. And as a starting point there, assume that any task or responsibility that rises to the level of complexity and importance for it to be explicitly included in your job description, rises to that level of complexity.

At least as importantly for purposes of this posting and its discussion, develop and pursue your Plan A with a measure of agility and resiliency as a goal, so you can accommodate a measure of the unexpected. And as a part of that, this means you’re being ready to switch to a new Plan B if needed, and with a smoother transition to that, than ad hoc alone could ever support.

That noted, let’s reconsider my social networking management example from Part 22, here very explicitly as a Plan B work-around and task completion endeavor:

• I did my due diligence research going into applying for that position, and for purposes of the interviewing and related processes that I would go through for it.
• But when I took that job and began it I uncovered an until-then more hidden side to this work position and its key tasks and priorities: something of the underlying relevant history as to why this business was trying to fill this position, and information and insight as to how and why earlier attempts at doing so with other new hires had failed.
• My focus in addressing this experience in Part 22 of this series was on how I had been taking the workplace and career-oriented success steps there, that I have been discussing in this series, and certainly since its Part 18, that built a foundation for my finding a way around some of the impasse that had caught up my predecessors there. I wrote in that installment of how I had paved the way for myself to be able to more effectively identify and access the resources that I needed, in order to carry out the key tasks that I had been hired to fulfill – and in that case despite my immediate supervisor there and his.
• I left out some fairly significant buy-in oriented negotiations with those two stakeholders in Part 22, as not being particularly relevant there. But I do note that they were very important, here in this Part 23 continuation of that narrative.
• What made these negotiations work? I would focus on two crucially salient details of that, here. First of all, I focused on how I was more effectively helping these managers to achieve their overriding goal of connecting with their business’ market and related community through online social media, and in ways that would facilitate all of their key personalized outreach and connection goals. My carrying out and completing this work would help them as well as the business, and I addressed their questions as to how I was doing this, in terms of my more effectively meeting their goals. And second, I focused on how this could be done with resources at hand, and in ways that would not blow up their budget, and for their department’s line on the table of organization or for their own more specific budget lines within that.
• This meant my shifting from an expected Plan A to a now pellucidly necessary Plan B and as quickly and smoothly as possible, and with the support of key stakeholders who my direct supervisor and his had to be able to work with. And it meant my coordinating my reports back to these managers, with feedback from these stakeholders who wanted to provide supportive help for this project and its completion: one key highly supportive department head definitely included there.
• I took this job, worked on their key projects that I was brought in for, doing so for about half a year, and then moved on to a next assignment elsewhere. And they got what they wanted and I did too.

And with this, I turn to some additional wording that I have added to the end of Point 6 as stated above, that I have repeated every time that I have repeated the above to-address list: “…and the importance of finding and addressing solutions to problems, and not assigning blame for them.”

Was I misled by the hiring manager who became my direct report supervisor there, and I add by his department head direct report supervisor who I also met with while being interviewed? Yes would be an arguably valid answer to that question. And they were not the only people there who were misleading at best, which is one reason why I never sought out further work with them and why I was happy to leave when I did. But would laying blame for any of this, or for any of the other issues that I faced at this place of employment, have helped me in any positive way while I was there? Nothing that I faced fit a pattern of workplace discrimination, or of any other fault-finding pattern that would reach of level of impact that would in any way demand my more formally complaining and seeking redress. So I found and developed my Plan B work-arounds where needed and negotiated buy-ins for them and I did my job there and left.

• If anything, the approach that I have just raised here applies even more importantly when you plan on staying on at a job long-term, that you resolve unexpected challenges and still meet goals and schedules as effectively as possible – while maintaining and even reinforcing buy-in and support for your efforts.

That is important: te same basic principles that I write of here, apply when you are working at a job and for a business that you would want to stay with, long-term. Preparing for possible Plan B’s should become all but automatic and certainly when you approach a complex task, project or other workplace responsibility, and with a goal of you’re being able to switch to one of them as smoothly and effectively as possible if needed, and with as many of the new resources that you would need for that either at hand or realistically available from their stakeholder sources for becoming so. No, it is not always going to be possible to fully achieve this goal, but effective preparation, and preparation that actively includes effective networking can go a long way in addressing possible gaps there.

• And then it is all a matter of doing the job and in as professional a manner as possible – and particularly if you feel put upon in some way by all of this and from how the need for a Plan B arose. Don’t go around assigning blame, and don’t focus on that in your own thoughts. Pick up these challenges, and address them as opportunities – opportunities for you to show your true capability and professional competence and get necessary work effectively, efficiently completed.
• Think of these here-and-now job issues as career-level opportunities and proceed accordingly.

I will have more to say regarding all six of the points of the above list, moving forward in this series as they remain important throughout the span of the jobs that you come to hold. But I at least preliminarily conclude this phase of this overall narrative here, with this final-for-now point. And with that, I am going to turn to consider negotiating in general as a jobs and careers tool set, beginning in my next series installment. That means looking way beyond any initial new hire probationary period to consider entire tenures as an employee with a given business, where promotions and more lateral moves, and possible career set-backs and recoveries from them and job description evolution in general can bring you to a position and to holding work responsibilities with an employer that could not have been imagined when you were first brought on-board.

This means discussing negotiations and all of the preparatory work that you would carry out leading up to them, and all of the post-meeting follow-through that those negotiations would lead to, if the results of them are to be effectively carried out. In anticipation of that next discussion thread to come here, I note that negotiations of this type essentially always take place and hold meaning in the context of change and its at least potential challenges and opportunities. That point of observation certainly applies to the topic points and issues that I have been raising and discussing in this series up to here. And it will continue to hold merit, and even defining merit in what is to come here too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 22 – the jobs and careers context 21

This is my 22nd 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 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-21.)

I began discussing the new hire probationary period in this series in Part 14, and that transition period’s day two and following in Part 18. And as part of that continuing narrative, I have been successively discussing a set of issues relevant to any new hire who works in anything like a larger organization, that I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative as I continue addressing them. (Note that I append here, links to where I have already at least preliminarily discussed the first four of these topics points, adding them in as parenthetical notes.)

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in (see Part 18.)
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them (see Part 19.)
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected (see Part 20.)
4. Networking for success in the workplace (see Part 21.
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.)

My goal for this posting is to at least begin to discuss the above offered Point 5 and its issues. And to put that topic point into clearer perspective with the four that precede it, I repeat the anticipatory note that I appended to the end of Part 21 as a lead-in for this posting:

• “Up to here I have been writing in this posting progression about preparatory networking and conversations, and without you’re coming across as simply asking for others’ time and effort where that might primarily offer value to you. All of this has been about proactively paving a way for you to better fit in and both as a source of value to others and so that you can have a wider range of resources available when and if you need them for yourself too. I am going to turn to Point 5 of the above list in my next series installment, and the issues of actually tapping into and benefiting from the social networking connections and resources that you need, that this groundwork has at least hopefully made more available to you.”

Let’s begin addressing the issues of that bullet point by considering a very specific, and I add very real workplace situation that I have faced and that I have had to deal with, from my own work life experience. I was brought into a business as a new hire, with a set of what amounted to agenda-scaled tasks to carry out and complete that centered around helping that organization reach out and connect more effectively with their “larger surrounding community” and its members, through online social media. I had already faced counterparts to this challenge in the past, and expected to find myself facing essentially the same issues and challenges that I had to address there, in this new workplace. I knew going in that at least one other person had tried carrying out this task and without success, but I had been led to believe that their problem was more a matter of a lack of familiarity with online social networking, at least as a business-wide managed activity than anything else. Connecting into Facebook and other online social media sites as an individual user, and posting to them and responding to the posted content of others on them, is different than setting up and managing larger overall social media campaigns with all of the performance monitoring and all of the brand management issues that that entails. My point is that I walked into that job, expecting that this business had tried managing this workplace responsibility by asking someone who was individually active online and particularly on a site such as Facebook, to move from there into setting up and running a business-wide social media-based marketing campaign, and an open-ended one at that.

I started working there and quickly found that I was facing a very different underlying challenge, at least as far as my being able to carry out this work was involved. Actually setting up and managing this social media outreach and connections system called for a comprehensive database support system for holding all of the information about potentially connected community members, and active ones, and their levels and types of involvement, so the business could individually customize how it addressed the people it wanted to be actively engaged with, according to their history and their levels and types of interest in this. And that required an actively engaged expert at relational database programming. And neither my own direct supervisor there, nor their supervisor was at all happy with the prospect of bringing anyone else into this for fear of increasing the cost of this endeavor, even as they both saw this as crucially important to the organization as a whole and as holding very high priority for their own careers there too, to be able to say that they got this done.

Let’s consider this emergent challenge from a Point 4 perspective first, and in terms of reaching out to meet and network with as wide a range of potentially valuable contacts as possible, and from early on. One of the very first things that I did there was to begin reaching out to all of the key stakeholders who I could identify, and both within this business and from outside of it (e.g. with a relatively few high networking value people who I could readily identify up-front, who this business would want to reach in their online social media-connecting efforts. (See Part 21 of this series and an earlier posting: Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy, for relevant information on hub networkers and other high value networking types.)

This definitely included all of the key gatekeeper level in-house stakeholders who would of necessity by involved in this project, and with them specifically included there because this project’s success would very significantly benefit them and their services and departments at this business if nothing else.

• I initially reached out to them to get to know them, and to make it clear that my goal there at that business was to help them reach their goals that this social media connectivity effort would enable.
• I initially reached out to them to introduce myself as a solution to problems, asking only for more detailed information as to what they needed from this and how it would connect into and support their already ongoing systems and programs.
• When I realized that I needed database help that I could not readily secure from direct support of my supervisor there, I reached out to one of those in-house stakeholders: the head of a large and well-funded department there, who saw particular value in this online social media endeavor, who was well connected with the database people there from his already ongoing work with them on other matters.

I had already established myself as someone who offered value and who returned it when helped. I picked my stakeholder to seek help from, very carefully and both for selecting the right one to reach out to and for reaching out with care and both for what help I asked for and for how I did that. I presented this entirely in terms of my more effectively and quickly helping to meet their needs, and not just in terms of their helping me – even if this stakeholder knew this would directly help me too.

• And as an outcome of this, I did secure the help of a database programmer, and one who was in fact looking for opportunities to get involved in wider ranges of activities there, in order to advance his own career. He did not want to be typecast as only being able to work in one narrow area of the business and saw this as a way out from that rut.
• And this department head stakeholder became a real ally out of this because we had successfully carried out a now-shared task of real value to both of us, or at least a crucial step in achieving that.

Success in this type of networking and in its working relationship building efforts, create positive bonds and strengthens them. And that creates opportunity for further collaborative efforts too.

• Build social networking bridges and from day one on a new job to the extent that is possible. Start this as early as possible and assiduously work at cultivating and expanding your reach there as the days pass and as you work your way through your initial probationary period and beyond.
• Start out by getting to know people and by helping them get to know you too. And present yourself as a positive, and as a source of solutions to problems rather than as a drain who would only seek out unreciprocated help from others.
• This means listening and really listening, and this means you’re coming to understand how your work does, or at least might fit into and support what others there are doing and what they are responsible for. Take notes; develop your own contacts information database to keep track of all of this.
• Then when – not if, when you eventually need help from one of these networking contact colleagues, pick who you would ask for information, insight or overt help from with forethought and care,
• Approach them and ask for this assistance with just as much care, taking their own workloads and their own needs into account when doing so,
• And do so with just as much care when considering the resources that they might be able to help you reach through next step networking.
• Be very focused and specific in what you ask for; you should not come across as asking for a blank check or for an open ended help account that you would just continue to draw from.
• And connect what you ask for from this contact to what you offer to them and can do for them too, presenting this as a transaction in an ongoing reciprocally beneficial relationship. Here, you goal is to build bridges as much as it is to benefit from them.

I am going to turn to Point 6 of the above list in my next series installment:

• Plan B planning and execution, and being prepared for the unexpected.

Then after discussing that set of issues, here from the perspective of navigating a new hire probationary period, I am going to turn to consider negotiating in general as a jobs and careers tool set. In anticipation of that next discussion thread to come here, I note that negotiations of this type essentially always take place and hold meaning in the context of change and its at least potential challenges and opportunities. That point of observation certainly applies to the points and issues that I have been raising and discussing in this series up to here. And it will continue to hold merit, and even defining merit in what is to come here too.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. 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.)

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 21 – the jobs and careers context 20

This is my 21st 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 1-20.)

I began discussing the new hire probationary period in this series in Part 14, and that transition period’s day two and following in Part 18. And as part of that continuing discussion, I offered a brief list of to-address topics points that any new hire should at least be aware of as they go through this period of initial employment, which I repeat here for smoother continuity of discussion. While there is a significant amount of overlap in those topic points and how they might be addressed by a new hire, I have at least offered preliminary response to the first three of them as parenthetically noted here:

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in (see Part 18.)
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them (see Part 19.)
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected (see Part 20.)
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.)

My goal for this posting is to offer an initial best practices commentary as to how the above Point 4 can be addressed by you as a new hire, that would correspond to what I have offered up to here in Parts 18-20 as you establish yourself in your new place of work and with your new colleagues. And I begin that by repeating a point that I made in Part 20, when addressing Point 3. Your goal here is to find and open doors, and to meet and get to know and get to be known by an effectively wide range of people who you will now be working with. So I write here of proactive networking and proactive initial communications and information sharing, and with a goal of being better prepared for you’re dealing with both your expected and routine, and for you’re being better prepared to deal with what for you is the unexpected too.

Who should you reach out to connect with in this way, in these getting to know you chats? I turn to one of my earliest orienting postings to this blog’s Social Networking and Business directory: Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy, as a starting point for addressing that question.

When you are a new hire and have real need to find your way around your new place of employment, and when you have just as real a need to become a valued and appreciated, and a known member of a new workplace team and a new workplace community, you need to set aside any reservations that you might have about meeting and getting to know strangers. I wrote in my above-cited social networking taxonomy posting about passive networkers and active, openly engaged ones. Active, open networking and networking without a specific goal-oriented or a specific help-requesting agenda can open doors for you here, that taking a reticent, passive networking approach would keep you from ever even learning about.

Who should you meet and greet in this way? And what type of networkers should you at least seek to identify, and make initial conversation starting contact with? I briefly discuss three categorical types of such high priority networking targets in my above-cited taxonomy posting, that you would in most cases find in essentially any business with a larger overall headcount: hub networkers, boundary networkers, and boundaryless networkers. Identifying and meeting these people can become crucially important to your work performance effectiveness and to your overall career path development too, and at whatever job you take, and certainly if you find yourself having to reach out more widely in your business for insight or support. So I repeat here, my initially offered definitional comments as to who they are, at least categorically and by networking style:

• Hub networkers are people who are well known and connected at the hub of specific communities with their own demographics and their ongoing voice and activities.
• Boundary networkers or demographic connectors are people who may or may not be hub networkers but who are actively involved in two or more distinct such communities and who can help people connect across the boundaries separating them to effectively join new communities.
• Boundaryless networkers (sometimes called promiscuous networkers) are people who network far and wide, and without regard to community boundaries per se. These are the people who can seemingly always help you find and connect with someone who has unusual or unique skills, knowledge, experience or perspective and even on the most obscure issues and in the most arcane areas.

The communities that I write of here, are often largely functionally defined and organized according to the business’ table of organization, but they can cut across those expected boundaries in what might be unexpected ways too. Yes, they can include at least a significant share of the people working at that business who hold some particular area of expertise, and might even include most if not all of them who actively socially network with others in the business, and who might actually be willing to actively work with new networking contacts at their business, who are introduced to them by a known hub networker or other widely connected contact. Or alternatively, community here might mean shared geographic locale and cut across work functions per se, where for example a hub networker at an office or other facility located away from the home office, might know seemingly everyone else there and know what they do and are like, interpersonally when dealing with others. Community as that term is used in these special categorically defined social networking participant types, and in what follows here, can be defined in any of a wide range of other ways as well, and can form and gain definition around essentially any significant within-group defining terms that hold significance within the organization as a whole and for the people who work there.

That noted, these communities can also be defined in terms of who does and does not actively communicate with whom. And the key driver to your wanting to identify and meet the more actively engaged and connected networkers at your new place of employment, is that they are the people who would know the widest ranges of people there who you might need to be able to meet and work with, on a collaborative or supporting basis. These are the people who can introduce you to the specific colleagues who you would most need to meet and know at that business, when you need their type of network connecting help.

And remember, that the networking reach that these and other colleagues who you can connect with in this way, goes way beyond simply connecting with and more easily working with specific colleagues in your own place of employment. These special networkers can be fonts of knowledge and insight regarding supply chain partner businesses and the people who you might need to connect with in them too, and at the very least they are the ones who would know who those experts are. And they can be equally knowledgeable about corporate clients and major customers and others: wholesalers and retailers who you might come into contact with, and more too.

These are often people who know a significant amount of the history of this business too, and they are at the very least the people who would know who the real in-depth repositories of such knowledge and insight are, there. Those generally long-standing and even career-long employees are the people there who would best know the background details that you might very well need to know if you are to understand the present that you face in your new job. These repositories of history and background information and insight are the people there at your new workplace who can give you crucial background information and insight that you might very well need if you are to more effectively address any of the longer standing problems that you were in fact hired to address. To take that out of the abstract, and with very real workplace experience in mind as I do so, ask yourself this question when reviewing the core tasks and responsibilities that you were specifically hired to carry out, taking them off of the desk of your now-supervisor in the process. Which of these job description responsibilities have been attempted before by others and without sufficient success to qualify as such? What potential minefield issues do you need to know about for them, if any, that you might not have been in a position to learn about earlier? And to match that question, what resources are, or could be made available to you as you tackle these challenges that others might not have tapped into in their earlier tries?

Up to here I have been writing in this posting progression about preparatory networking and conversations, and without you’re coming across as simply asking for others’ time and effort where that might primarily offer value to you. All of this has been about proactively paving a way for you to better fit in and both as a source of value to others and so that you can have a wider range of resources available when and if you need them for yourself too. I am going to turn to Point 5 of the above list in my next series installment, and the issues of actually tapping into and benefiting from the social networking connections and resources that you need, that this groundwork has at least hopefully made more available to you.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 4 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3. 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.)

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 20 – the jobs and careers context 19

This is my 20th 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 1-19.)

I began discussing the new hire probationary period in this series in Part 14, and that transition period’s day two and following in Part 18. And as part of that, I offered a brief list of to-address topics points that any new hire should at least be aware of as they go through this period of initial employment:

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.)

I began addressing these issues in Part 18 (for Point 1) and Part 19 (for Point 2), and will at least primarily focus on the above stated Point 3 here. That noted, the above listed points are all closely enough related and interrelated so that any real effort to address any of them in detail would of necessity at least touch on others offered there too.

And with that noted, the key words in Point 3 that set it apart from Points 1 and 2, are “the unexpected.” I have primarily discussed Points 1 and 2 in this series, at least up to here, in terms of more standard and expected work issues and challenges: simply carrying out expected duties and working toward completing planned out goals and stretch goals in the face of routine resource limitations and other predictable and expected workplace issues. My goal here is to add workplace and job performance complexities and challenges to that baseline.

I will return to the issues of the more genuinely unexpected and unpredictable when addressing Point 6 of the above list, and set the stage for that here, as well for discussing Points 4 and 5, by focusing on workplace and business communications.

I have been explicitly discussing the issues of communications in a business in a concurrently running series: Building a Business for Resilience, as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 and Page 5 continuations (as directory entries 542 and loosely following.) And my ongoing focus of attention there, and certainly since that series’ Part 28, has been on finding an effective and meaningful balance between information security and confidentiality and meeting that set of needs, while simultaneously allowing for and supporting more open communications and particularly where that becomes essential in addressing the disruptively novel and unexpected.

I leave that more general line of discussion and its elaboration to that series, and focus here on the new hire as they seek to find their way around their new workplace. I have focused in Building a Business for Resilience, on explicitly developing capabilities and business-wide, for more quickly identifying, understanding and addressing emergent challenges and opportunities, and for enabling a business’ innovative potential. My focus here is on the new hire, as they seek to identify others who work with them, for their skills and experience sets. And my focus here is on efforts that they would make to at least initially connect with these colleagues. That means their being more proactively prepared for actually carrying through on their own day to day routines and as an involved member of a team they have now joined. But this also means their being more proactively prepared to address what at least for them, would be more unexpected situations: positive or negative in nature. Note: that does not necessarily mean that no one there at this business would see those at least seemingly emergent situations as novel and unexpected; it just means that no one already working there has told at least this new hire of the possibilities that they might face where some event or a possibility of one might arise, that would require special handling for an effective resolution.

Learning curves take time, as do training periods that would help fulfill them. In this, meeting learning curve requirements comes in part and even in large part from outside of new hires themselves, coming from the system they have just joined and its already-actively involved participants. That aspect of their on the job, new hire training generally calls for at least some active participation from their direct supervisors and others there, including people from Human Resources that offer general new hire-oriented talks and presentations at the very least. And this can and often does involve help in getting up to speed from more experienced members of a new hire’s immediate work team too. But even when a business has a relatively comprehensive formally framed onboarding process for that, it is still going to be up to the new hire themselves, to fill in what for them would still be remaining gaps in their in-house training.

So I write here of proactively reaching out and communicating, and I write here of being prepared for more effectively and smoothly carrying through on workplace routines, and in ways that coordinate smoothly with what others there are doing. And I write here of reaching out and communicating more widely so as to have a basic tool set in place for handling the more truly novel and unexpected too.

I am going to turn in my next series installment, to explicitly consider networking in this. My focus here in this posting has been on communications, and on the What and How of that: not on the With-Whom. So I conclude this posting, in preparation for the next to come in this series, with two crucially important points. The first can be summarized in two quick bullet points.

• As a new hire who is primarily seeking to proactively pave a way forward for their success, this initial stage networking and communicating is all about introductions, and making sure that an effectively wide range of colleagues are on your radar as at least somewhat known quantities, and that you are on theirs too and hopefully with a favorable first impression made.
• So these initial conversations are of necessity going to be more general in nature, and are not intended to bring up specific here-and-now workplace issues, and certainly not just to ask for assistance with them – usually. These are and should be “getting to know you” chats, and “this is where I work and this in general terms is what I do here” chats.

The second point that I would raise here is both more complex and more important, so I begin setting up for it with an already discussed foundational point:

• The hiring manager, now direct supervisor who brought you into this business as a new hire there, did so to take a specific job description with all of its expected work and task completion responsibilities off of their desk.
• True, most supervisors would expect and want to be brought into the conversation and early on if an unexpected problem or a new emerging opportunity were to arise. But even then, they would at least expect that their new hire would be able to bring them up to speed on this and very quickly and with at least an effectively reasonable first take on what is happening that they could report in. And if this new hire – you, can also offer at least a reasonable first take on how this might be addressed too, that would fit into the driving rationale behind the first of this set of bullet points and validate your having been a good choice for this job.
• To put this in perspective, I have worked with and observed supervisors who do not for whatever reason want to become involved, and sometimes even in crises. I find myself thinking back to an in-house employee position at a nonprofit that I held once, where a crisis arose that was literally costing that business over one hundred thousand dollars an hour and entirely avoidably so. A major live, on-air fundraiser was failing and completely so, because the online donation side to it as supported by a third party provider was down and off-line. And my supervisor refused to leave a group meeting with his own supervisor to help address that problem, as he sought to curry her favor. So I had to improvise to resolve this mess when it was this manager who had the only direct working relationship with this service provider, and by specific intention on his part. Given this and similar counter-examples to the first two points here that I could cite: there are exceptions to the above, and communicating with your supervisor and others who work with them, can help you be more prepared for the unexpected – and even when that comes in this type of form.

I write here of communications as bridge building and alliance building, and as an exercise that can productively lead to that happening. And with this noted, I will turn in my next installment to this series, to the above stated Point 4 of the to-address list that I am working my way through here. And I will explicitly consider the “With-Whom” side of this general topics area there, as well as networking etiquette and related issues. I will also more explicitly strategically consider Why issues 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.)

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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