Being a piece of the puzzle

How to fit in even if you aren’t involved in every decision.

I often meet with Sandy at our favorite local coffee shop for breakfast, to catch up on personal things, then to discuss any needs that Sandy might desire, this beautiful Fall Friday morning was no different. After we exchanged some personal stories and a few hugs we began to discuss what was on her mind.

Sandy’s organization was going through some major changes, not to mention, the industry as well. A lot of consolidations, market changes and increased competition for the same prices. She began to express her concerns about staying at her job and how to deal with all of the upcoming changes. However, the one thing that Sandy loved about her job is that she was finally being included and asked for input from the management and leaders of the organization, they were asking her questions about her thoughts and ideas.

Upon listening to Sandy tell her story in excitement, I thought to myself, who wouldn’t be elated that someone valued their opinion enough to get their input. That was until it got to the point of discussing some of the outcomes. She was asked one question in particular about her department, Sandy worked in finance, and she was responsible for managing purchasing, A/R, A/P, G/L and payroll. She loved her job but was frustrated with some of the processes and procedures put in place. Hoping for a change, Sandy gave a suggestion to change the process that was being used for purchasing. She felt as though there were steps that could be streamlined. Management took her suggestions and thanked her for the input, at this point she was feeling good about where this was going.

After giving her input, several months had passed, with no changes to the procedures she was asked about. Even though Sandy was being asked for her opinion, she felt discouraged, like why ask for her opinion if her suggestions were going to be ignored. They had done nothing with her ideas and this left her feeling discredited. I let her finish her thoughts and express her feelings. She needed to get it out, so we could talk about “what’s next”.

I asked her had the leaders put a time period on what they were looking to do. Or had they discussed the overall vision of what they wanted to do in detail? She said no to both questions. However, she did say they mentioned they really wanted to increase productivity and reduce costs. I sat and thought to myself that her input was very appropriate for the direction that they wanted to take. I then asked the one million dollar question, “Do you think you had all of the information that is required for them to move forward?” Sandy gave me a puzzled look and said, “I think so. What else do they need if I have given the information and I do the work every day? I am in the trenches and know what it takes to get the work completed.”

I agreed with Sandy, but had to remind her that none of us know all of the factors that go into any decision. There are times when confidential information or other ramifications can impact the decisions being made. No one, even the President, knows all of them. Even the President has a boss or someone they must answer to, there is ALWAYS information that you may not be aware. Here’s a perfect example. Let’s suppose that there was a confidential merger on the table between your company and another one. They wanted that information to understand the impact on integration. They could not tell you this information. However, they needed the data points.

It’s hard to comprehend but as employees or even citizens, this is where trust comes into play. You must trust that your leaders are going to make the right decision that is best for you and the company, just as citizens we must trust the President of the United States to make the right decisions for our well-being. As human beings we have that inherent want to be heard and appreciated and sometimes we feel as though we aren’t when in fact, we are heard and can be appreciated. In some cases we are just part of a total process. That doesn’t mean that our opinion is all it takes, there could be other factors and we are only a piece of the puzzle and there are other things that make up the total decision.

Acknowledged as a “visionary leader”, Vicki Hamilton develops new IT strategies to address old workplace problems. An award winning technology executive with over 20 years of senior level experience, Vicki’s strategies drive high value results ($20M+.) Her latest initiative, The Wright Answer, is a global online match making mentoring program for women from college through retirement. Connect with Vicki and join the experience at thewrightanswer.net.

 

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