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Career

53 SAVED IDEAS

Many young people working in the corporate sector have innovative, big ideas that can bring substantial change in their organizations and even in the world. The barriers they come across are equally large.

An entry-level employee had limited connections and leverage, unable to make any big decisions. Those having power and status in the organization have their own beliefs and assumptions, apart from the usual arrogance of position. Often these powerful people are causing roadblocks.

To get over this challenge, we need to work with those in power, making them listen and believe in us.

@ryan_rvv221

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Career

We need to look at the kind of idea we plan to propose and figure out who would have the power to implement the same. Study the power dynamics of your company using the RACI matrix:

  1. Responsible: People in charge of completing a task or activity.
  2. Accountable: People signing off work and giving approval.
  3. Consulted: People giving input to the group getting the work done.
  4. Informed: People waiting for updates on the status, and on the decisions getting made.

We need the person with decision making power, and that is often divided among a small group of people in high positions.

Executives having decision-making powers also look for engagement initiatives, peer support and market data before making a final decision.

After the decision-maker is identified, we need to find a ‘champion’, mostly a middle-level employee who can bring your ideas and thoughts to high-level meetings that you may not be invited to.

If the idea is small, the problem may be solved easily, but if it is a large, disruptive idea, we may need someone who has power and influence over those in high positions.

We may first need to build trust in our chosen champion, making him or her respect you as a professional, and believe in your credibility.

Before pitching the idea to our champion, we need to stress-test it, creating a robust pitch that does not have holes or logic gaps.

One can gather feedback from multiple stakeholders or someone in the team which is directly impacted by the proposal.

Stakeholders may add or subtract from our pitch as they have access to certain information that may not be available to us.

Pitch the idea to the champion with a clear objective, purpose and a strong backing of numbers and evidence. Identify the audience and how they are going to pay attention(which is costly in today’s world) to the new-fangled idea. Focus less on theory and more on implementation.

Once the idea is pitched to the champion, we would either get a thumbs up or we won’t. 

  • If this hurdle is cleared, work towards how to present the idea to the big guys, which is now the champion’s job. Work with someone who has access to the schedules of the senior management.
  • If the idea didn’t go well with the champion, work with them to know what went wrong and how we can pivot the concept.

Navigating through all the obstacles to get your idea to the big guys isn’t a cakewalk, and patience is key here. What may help you is:

  1. Careful Observation.
  2. Smart Communication.
  3. Active Listening.
  4. Strategic decision-making.
  5. Persistence.
The People We Argue With At Work
  • It is inevitable to disagree with colleagues, bosses and coworkers at work.
  • People deploy varied techniques and styles when they clash with their work colleagues, but there are no guidelines on how we work through the conflict.
  • It also depends on if we are trying to ensure that the relationship isn’t damaged, or just focused on getting the result.
  • It is all about priorities, and being successful in hustling with others can lead to success at the cost of being alienated by others and losses in the long term.

Competitors focus on the result, and have an assertive and uncooperative working style.

They can make people give-in to their demands by their imposing, aggressive nature, but even if they get the results they want and do well in their jobs, their conflict style makes people hostile towards them, leading to lack of teamwork and idea sharing.

Collaborators take everyone’s ideas into account and try to reach a consensus. This mode of conflict may sound idealistic, but there are some pitfalls. Collaborators can start being manipulative and less transparent about everyone’s input. They can also promise to everyone but then be unable to keep the promise, leading to distrust.

Collaborators need to be transparent and set the right expectations to their co-workers.

The always obliging accommodators yield too much, sacrificing their own needs in the process. They start to be pushovers, as people take advantage of their accommodating nature.

The way for them to say a ‘no’ to an unfair request is to say: ‘That doesn’t work for me.’

Dealmakers negotiate both ways and bargain to get results, even if there is some compromise involved. They know that neither party can get exactly what they want, and move towards the middle path.

Dealmakers can also make false promises and be less honest about the long-term facts, so it is good to read the fine print.

Some coworkers see a problem and address it is to a person higher up, with more power. They think raising problems with superiors will get the clout and power they need or will lead to a quick resolution. Whatever their intention, no one likes someone going behind their back and this tactic often backfires.

Though it is a good strategy for addressing conflicts like harassment or toxic work environments, involving higher-ups for simple disagreements is just a waste of time and energy.

A person avoiding conflicts will ensure the work relationship does not turn sour, and will let conflicts go. While it may make things easy, their own voice is stifled, and their silence comes off as inaction.

If we see a coworker completely avoiding arguments, we may need to probe a little so that we know what they need.

Some personality types argue for the sake of it. The problem may be personal, fake or non-existent, but they cannot be upfront about that. The argument is part of their deception to cover the real problem.

One needs to see through them and find out the real reasons why they are talking in circles.

Holiday events build connections

Working from home has the potential to be very isolating. Holding virtual holiday events are a way to build connections with faraway colleagues.

A company holiday party acts as an acknowledgement of your membership in a community and recognition of your work. When the option for you to participate is missing, it can send a signal that you're not a full member or fully appreciated.

Just being invited to the party is not enough. Many companies inadvertently make remote employees feel like second-class citizens. When organizing company events, they do not consider the logistical problems their remote employees face, such as plane tickets and hotel costs.

Some companies who do remember to host remote workers do not always include them properly. Videoconferencing means virtual employees can watch everyone having a good time, but they can't participate and will still feel excluded.

In order to make a holiday event inclusive for everyone, companies can come up with ways to celebrate and have fun together.

  • They could set a clear expectation that for the first half-hour, employees will talk about their greatest accomplishments from the year and what they want to bring into the new year.
  • Turning on the camera could be made mandatory.
  • Come prepared with conversation starters like, "What's your plan for the holiday?"
  • An instant messaging platform like Slack can be used for people to discuss their interests outside work.
  • Companies can give a budget to employees who live in the same location to throw their own local holiday party.
  • Those who don't have other colleagues close can create their own party open to anyone working remotely. They can unite around the idea of remote work.
The A Player

Many stories have a lone person, who is unknown but eventually becomes a hero due to his years of toiling and getting success. We like to think of this ‘heroic’ feat as something done exclusively by the hero.

The role of the team, the other people that are not in the frame is often overlooked. Any important achievement cannot be done alone, and if we look closely, a person is a product of the education system, society, environment, luck, the internet and a lot more.

The job of a leader is to get the right team, which according to an estimate provides three times more output than an average team.

The work of a leader isn’t as simple as hiring the best talent, and merely putting smart people together as a team is not an effective strategy.

Any combination of individual intelligence does not make an intelligent group, no matter how logical it sounds on paper.

The ‘A’ Players, the cream of individual intelligence, bring in drive, integrity and the ability to mentor, but all of which is not possible without the collective effort of other players of the team, who are not A players.

Venting At The Office

Due to the stress accumulation, many team members and managers vent out in their daily team meetings. Whether it’s work problems, family struggle, or mental health, they find it therapeutic to unload it to others.

This kind of venting, however, can be stressful for others, especially if they are being forced to listen. Negative ranting wears down the listener and uses up the emotional bandwidth, making them anxious.

Preserve your sanity in a VC meeting by these methods:

  • Introduce ground rules in the meeting requesting it to be free of negative talk, on the pretext of detoxing the audience/team members and improving their mental health.
  • Intentionally keep things positive, promoting sharing of positive things and ending the meeting on a high note, so that the negative is by default kept out, without pinpointing it.
  • In case a higher-up or a boss is the one with the negative talk, one can bite the bullet and request the person personally and politely to stop or reduce the negative banter.

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