Thursday, 17 November 2016

Rule 68: Spend more time with senior staff

By on 13:30
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Famous Nigeria's Afro-Juju Music Creator, Sir Shina Peters  with Hip-Hop Yahoo Music Creator, Olu Maintain

No matter what level you are in the company you can spend time with senior members of staff and they won’t even realize if you handle it right.  Draw attention to yourself and you will be spotted as an interloper. A spy, an intruder, a gatecrasher.  Remember as a small child you could attend grown-up parties if you stayed quiet.  They forgot you were there.  Once spotted you got carried off to bed – where you belonged.  It’s the same as a junior.  You can hang around and learn, but don’t blow it or you’ll be sent back to bed metaphorically.

When I was an office junior I noticed that senior members of staff tended to hang back after meetings sort of chewing the fat amongst themselves.  The juniors scuttled off leaving these bigwigs to chat. I found that if I hung around also, sort of tidying up the table, emptying ashtrays (those were the days) and keeping quiet, then I got to overhear a lot and was even consulted on the odd occasion – ‘Ah, Richard, you’re part of the new invoicing procedures, what do you think of them?  This was my chance to shine.  I blew it of course and stammered and blushed and was tongue tied and useless.  Next time I got it better and eventually got it right.

There came a time when I was asked something and I was coherent, confident and mature.  Strange that I was also whisked up the promotion ladder quite rapidly very soon after.  This was when I was working for a very old fashioned British company and their promotion route was very fixed, you had to follow a very set procedure.  I was allowed to bypass this system and I put it all down to hanging around the top guns.

“Go up and make small talk.  You’ll be amazed how often bosses are grateful for a ‘worker’ talking to them because they too are human and feel isolated, lonely, ignored, and forgotten”

Sometimes you will notice a boss sitting on their own at a lunch or social occasion.  Most ‘workers’ are too nervous to go up to them and chat or so entrenched in their social class thing that they can’t talk to them.  Bugger that.  Go up and make small talk.  You’ll be amazed how often bosses are grateful for a ‘worker’ talking to them because they too are human and feel isolated, lonely, ignored, and forgotten. They are glad of a chat, just so long as you don’t take advantage and ask about a pay rise or time off or your holidays.  But it is OK to ask about their experiences – ‘So how did you get into marketing, Ms Johnson?’

You may well find you pick up useful hints and tips as well as getting ready for the next rule – Getting people to assume you have already made the step.

(Excerpts from THE RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “How to make people accept you ‘next level’” from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)

Rule-to-Work Series

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