Communication is key


Is communicating right more important than being right?

Today I was having a discussion with my colleague about navigating organizations, specifically about driving change and building alliances.

Something I was terrible at when I started off as a manager.

I recall being promoted to a Support Team Lead position barely 8-9 months into my first job.

– The company I worked at was growing rapidly

– I loved solving customer problems

– Customers were very happy with the way I was solving their problems

None of that prepared me for the new role.

I did take some online training on HR policies as a manager, but that was about it.

This is what happened after that:

– Part of the team, who were earlier my peers hated me

– I tried to show that I knew more so I was promoted; that made things worse.

– I doubled down on solving customer problems and spent a lot more time learning, being right, showing everyone how I had “earned it”.

– Not surprisingly (but didn’t know any better then) former peers started leaving the team.

– Luckily we had a supply of new people and I was able to rebuild the team,

The new team worked hard.

– We were among the fastest to solve customer problems

– We won multiple individual and team awards in terms of ticket turnaround, happy customers etc.

After about 15-18 months there was another org change.

– This time I did not get promoted from team lead to group manager.

– One of my peers was.

– I didn’t hate him, but I no longer wanted to work there.

– Director of our department told me in the feedback session that I didn’t know how to build partnerships with other managers…

I switched to product development and went through another cycle of being promoted to senior developer, lead, team manager.

Made half of the same mistakes, but got a little better at some of the things.

Looking back I realize that I didn’t understand anything about managing and working with people.

I should have listened a lot more, talked a lot less.

Focused on communicating right, instead of being right.

Built alliances and found common ground with peers, managers and their managers.

Learnt to be nice to others and not judge or treat anyone harshly.

I have gotten better, bit by bit over the years.

Still make a few of the same mistakes from time to time.

But, I do a lot better now on building alliances.

A lot better on connecting with people and establishing rapport.

Do a lot more “meetings before the meeting” to get buy-in for everyone

Earlier I used to see things as right and wrong, black and white.

Now, it all appears grey.

Maybe it has something do with having hair of the same color…