Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Quickest Way to Ruin Your Company

I woke up this morning already in thought.  I was thinking about my career, or lack thereof right now.

I decided to leave my last job in early July because the older I get the more I understand about who I am, what I'm good at, and the type of environment I want to work in.  One thing I know about me is that I have a hard time just being a "yessman" (someone that goes along with the decisions of others because they'd rather not think about it, or fear that opposition will threaten their job). 

I am not a "yessman."  Although it wasn't until this morning that I realized why.  I spent the first part of my working career in television.  Well, I worked towards where I wanted to be in TV.  I spent five years at Global Television as a script assistant, which was really a quality control position to make sure the details (both technical and not) didn't slip through the cracks.  (Note: if you see mistakes on the news, know there is a culture of blame in broadcast telelvision, so a script would say it's the producer's responsibility to catch that mistake, and the producer would blame the reporter.) 

This time as a script taught me how to be incredibly (even ridiculously) detail oriented and act as a "catch-all" for everyone's mistakes.  Thank goodness that intensity has relaxed now but I really felt like it was all on me at times.

The reason why I'm not a "yessman?"  News is based in objectivity.  The goal of a news organization is to present a balanced view of a story or topic.  Are they perfect?  No.  But everyday, in some way, shape or form, I was reminded that objectivity is #1 and we had to work as hard as possible to get the other side.  This was mainly for reporters/producers/anchors but it's a culture that's instilled into everyone.

When I went back to school and studided entrepreneurship last spring I learned one "don't."  Don't surround yourself with people who hold the same opinion as you.  The downfall of the corporate ladder is that promotions don't come to people who go against the grain.  Promotions go to "yessmen."  The benefit to surrounding yourself with people who have different experience and hold various opinions is that you will always be able to see a problem from multiple sides.  Even if you think there's only one way to look at a problem (your way) you could be very wrong, and if you create a culture where people are afraid to challenge your position, you could just be padding your company's death bed.

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