Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 175: Eventually

The worst day on a job is always the first. However, I look forward to it.

The first day you're always nervous. Obviously you made a strong enough impression, but now what? Job interviews are like first dates: They're inherently phony. You're only showing the very best possible representation of yourself. That's a facet of you. Not you.

And this goes on for a while, either by design or by showing good sense. In some cases you might have a probationary hiring period where if you do something stupid they will chop you. Generally you've got to hope that there's no slip-up on your part that might give them reason to not like you as much.

It's a balancing act. I can be a little intense and on the job that can rub people the wrong way. I've never understood why. When I am hired to do something, I'm always motivated to do the best possible work I can in fulfillment of my job. Here's an example: I worked for a large PR firm in California, handling the agency work for a global automobile maker. This company was preparing for a gigantic launch of an important vehicle, a legacy vehicle. The intro was going to take place at the largest U.S. auto show.

This particular auto show is a grind for the media. Thousands fly in for the show. For more than three days, the media throngs from automaker event to automaker event, hearing from the bigwigs, seeing the new toys. Every hour, sometimes every half-hour, they move like a herd of 5-year-old soccer players from booth to booth. After a day of this, it becomes a drone. After two days, you just can't wait for it to be over. On the third day, you're homicidal.

I attended many of these as a media member. I think my analysis is fairly typical.

When I was working for the manufacturer, we started planning the big launch. The manufacturer reps had an hour. They planned to open the show with the sexy new vehicle, then touch on the rest of their product line, none of which had the jazz of the new arrival. I made the case that opening with the new product would mean once they moved on to the other stuff, the media would fade away and start staking out ground at the next intro. Three times I made this case, and three times they said they would start the show with the new thing.

When the show came, they started with the new thing. For the second half of their show, they spoke to an audience about two-thirds smaller than what was at the start.

I felt it was my duty to bring my experience to this scenario, but they went another way. The fact that I was right is nice for me, but ultimately, I'd rather have been able to make the case that what I was saying wasn't about me but about what was best for the company. I was willing to go against the grain to make the point that was in the best interests of the company. It wasn't in *my* best interests. I could have easily just shut up and nodded.

I feel that's the coward's way out, and doesn't ultimately benefit the team. But you all know that the workplace is filled with sheep who just want to get through the day without any conflict. I have a hard time doing that. I think it's a matter of integrity to work hard for who you work for.

I've got tons of examples like this. One stop, in a nepotism situation that should have been handled by corporate, one of the beneficiaries of nepotism was incompetent. I could have let that go, and not helped fix that problem. Obviously no one would be able to complain since the nepotism was allowed. But I couldn't bear to let the product suffer so I fixed the problem, over and over and over again. Why? Why should I care more than the people I work for?

Because I don't like coasting. If I'm in it, then I'm in it. Dolph J. Regelsky said it well: "Pro way is the easy way."

So when I get that new job, I will tread lightly to fit in, and hope that everyone is rowing in the same direction so that I don't have to be the one to stand up and try and fix things.

No comments:

Post a Comment