Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Lil' bit o' Business Advice was inevitable.
I have turned a year older. Yup, just the other day, like a few days ago, certainly sometime between when that other day started and when it ended. Yeah, I'm all about specific's today.
I'm still in my early forties with a few wrinkles appearing on my face when I smile, I'm getting married to an amazingly hot woman who I love to bits who has a heart of gold and is my best friend, I have a 13 year old son, an 18 year old (non-biological - not that it matters) daughter and a 5 year old step son all of whom I love to bits, there's a lot more salt than pepper in my beard and hair than there was a year ago (possible reference to children) and I'm less inclined to go for a cross country run now than I was when I was 20.  
No wait.  Scratch that. I've always hated running. It's dumb, to be avoided, you turn a bit red faced, you sweat, unable to breathe, slamming feet into the earth, nah. Tell me, you ever seen a runner smiling as they're running? No. There you have it.

So I need to replace that last comment about cross country running. Please replace with "I'm less inclined to answer back in a bar than I was when I was 20". Yes, better. And no, I didn't like those situations either but when you're from where I grew up and you're partying in places infamous like Tokoroa, Putaruru, Hamilton, Auckland...well y'know, shit happens. At least the Tokoroa Police were nice. Well, the woman one was anyway.
But I digress. The point of this post is to be reflective and to tell you how I ended up where I am today as a Team Manager so that maybe my advice will help you see how to climb the ladder (corporate or otherwise) toward having a successful career in your chosen field.
So lets kick this off.  Here's me, I'm the team manager of a Telecommunications Provisioning Team - there's 17 staff, all very smart with lots of potential that's never been realised. Thankfully, now it is. I've been here at my current workplace for 13 years (and yes, my son was only 2 weeks old when I started and is the reason for the legend whispered in corridors of "Did you know Darren got keyboard face by falling asleep in training when he first started?"), I have run inbound contact centre teams of 14 or more, an elite high performing tele-account managers team of 12, was a QA for calls and helped our business grow professionally, created a Lead Mentor system that's still in place today 12 years later, became the customer service business stream lead for a multi-million dollar project run internally, I ran Billing and Cash teams for a while made up of a further 20 staff and have in the past been trusted to run both contact centres when the Service Operations Manager has been away on holidays for weeks at a time - around 150 staff. 
So how does a guy like me - not particularly school smart but did okay - end up doing all that stuff (and more) when I was voted "most unlikely to succeed" at school (editors girlfriend thought I was nice) and I kept falling asleep in training?
The answer (broken into 2 parts) is the same answer I've been telling you in almost every single post I've written here.
The first part is;
Yup - this old nugget. "A" double "T", "i" and another "t" with a whole lot of "uuuude" for good measure.
So without coming across as some arrogant tool (trust me, I cant stand arrogant people and I am certainly not one, I'm more on the "caring and confident" side of the fence) each and every day I have done my best to focus on the good, even turning the not-so-good into ways of getting it around to my way of thinking and by actually giving a damn about what I'm doing. By constantly looking for win/win's in every situation, building a genuine honest rapport with the people I work with, being 100% honest in all my dealings and doing what I say I'm going to do (also becoming known for these traits) I have built up a size-able level of respect here - so that was  the "how". 
For you reading this, this might seem a lot, but it's not. It's a simple state of mind. Whenever you are working, whatever you are doing, if you have the right attitude towards it and you're not just sitting back and "expecting" things to happen for you, things will get easier and you will keep yourself ahead of the curve by getting asked if you would like to try something new. Nice people in this business get somewhere. Nice people with go-get-it attitudes can get even further.
People see this attitude in you. Now okay, yes, I've been very lucky and had plenty of amazing people looking out for these attitudes and great for me, they saw them in me, hence all the incredible opportunities I have found myself in. 
That's the first part done, now for the second part of this epiphany.
"It's ok to make mistakes"
So many people beat themselves up unnecessarily regarding making mistakes, but ask yourself some logical questions each time you make one;
"What have I learned?" - I'll bet you leaned how NOT to do it again, right? So is that a negative or a positive?
"How did it happen in the first place?" - time to start looking at the process and how you got there which will lead quite nicely into...
..."how can I stop this happening again?" - forward thinking to help yourself and others.
Regardless of the mistake, it is absolutely possible to turn it into a "serious positive" by learning from it and acting on it.  
Did you know about the potential to make this mistake before you made it? 
Of course not! If you did, you wouldn't have made it, right?
So now you do. What are you going to do with this information you've just learnt?
Gonna cover it up and pray no one realises?  Well, you could...but where would that get you?  Constantly having to hide? Anxiety that someone might bust you?  Screw that.  Bust yourself and fess up!  Own that error you made and spread the word! 
Thing is - your $40 mistake (or even $4000 mistake) that you've learnt from and are striving to fix/repair etc could be potentially plug a massive dollar hole the business you work for didn't even know about!  
And since you've found the error, by you alerting others to it, your little mistake could potentially save your company mis-quillions (Google it) if not mega-trillions of dollars in the long run.
So...why are you beating yourself up again exactly? 
LEARN FROM IT, ANALYSE IT, FIX IT, OWN IT. That's a real positive my friend. 
I'm pretty sure you're picking up what I'm putting down here.
So give these things a go - consider the environment you work in and look toward upping your personal profile within the business. Think about who you interact with, what your job is, what your role is (job and role can be different) and why you're there.
A few key points to consider too though.
1. Never be a suck-up - everyone can see through sycophantic behaviours, even if you're world class at it. Trying to make everything "all about you" or harping on trying to convince everyone just how "wonderful/awesome/amazing" you are, is just annoying. You will effectively lose all respect from the people you work with and miss out on even normal opportunities because you will be seen as a bit mental. No one likes a suck up attention whore.
2. Keep your cool when others aren't or can't 
3. Never go to a meeting without preparing for it first - you can choose to go as a spectator or a participant. I NEVER choose to go as a spectator.
4. Do what you say you're going to do - use outlook calendars, phone reminders etc basically whatever you have to make sure you don't forget
5. Have fun. Don't be serious all the time. No one will relate to the person who can't have a laugh.
6. Admit when you don't understand - which would you rather? Know how to do something or do it wrong and have to re-do it?
7. Be genuine. This, my friend, is numero ono and the MOST important thing of all.
8. Show empathy for others situations.
9. Proof read every email you send before you send it and re-read every email you receive at least once.
10. And lastly (but by no means finally) -  challenge yourself. You're a lot stronger, braver and smarter than you give yourself credit for buddy. Trust that fact.

Okay - I'll leave this all with you to have a bit of a re-read through - and I wish you the best of luck - I'm sure you got this and all the stuff I've blathered on about above you probably already knew.

Have a great day

...and dream big.