Go On a Field Trip

Problem:

You don’t know everything… about every group in your whole company.  (Hint: neither does anyone else.)

Solution:

Take a field trip to another part of the company that you don’t know much about.  It could be a corner of the factory, or some group who works on a different product than you, or the group next door who you think you might know what they do but not really.  Or it could be that group with the funny sounding title which makes you say “What the heck does that mean, and what do they do anyway?”

Talk to someone in that group and tell them that you would like to find out what their group does and write up a little informational story to share with your group and others who might need to know.

People like to be respected and recognized for the work they do.  So start a little newsletter, or use your web site, or a blog and talk about the good things people are doing.  This could even be an ongoing effort to help people know what everyone does in the company and make connections which can break down those artificial barriers I mentioned in the first post.

Start a Training Class

Problem:

Your skills and knowledge are under utilized.

There are people who could use the skills or knowledge you have.

Solution:

Start a training class during lunch (your boss doesn’t care what you do for lunch, see this post.)  Pick a subject you know something about (i.e. project management, Excel, blogging, leadership, twitter, social media, giving presentations, etc.)

It doesn’t have to be fancy, you’re just sharing something you know.

Tell all your friends at work about it, make some flyers to post up on bulletin boards or other places in your area (or out of your area, if you prefer.)  Send a unique email announcing the event to various distribution lists.

Try to collect the names and email of all those who attend, so you can follow up with them for future classes.

Don’t worry if you’re not the complete expert on the subject, just remember, in the land the blind, the one eyed man is king.

Email Your CEO

Problem:

There are some good things happening in your corporation that need more visibility and recognition.

or

There are some things happening that are terribly wrong.

or

You have a good idea that needs support.

or

You feel disconnected with what’s happening at the top and in other parts of the company.

or there could be a zillion more problems that this idea could address. (I’m seriously reconsidering this format because many of these grootship ideas could address multiple problems.)

Solution:

Send an email to your CEO.  Although I can’t confirm it, my hypothesis is that everyone thinks they are so busy and they get so many emails that they couldn’t possibly reply to you, but in reality, because everyone thinks that, nobody sends them emails.

Oh sure, they probably get a lot of status emails from their VPs and whatnot, and I’m sure they really are super busy, but I’ll bet they don’t get too many emails from people on the front lines.  Or if they do, it’s probably a bunch of disgruntled employees just ranting on what a horrible job they’re doing.  So don’t be one of those kind.

Here’s what you need to do when emailing your CEO:  

  • Be brief.
  • Be respectful, even complimentary, but keep it sincere.
  • Ask for a specific request that he or she can do easily or delegate to someone else.

You might be surprised at what kind of response you’ll get.  They have a reputation to keep, and it’ll probably be fun for them because it’s so out of the ordinary.

You can also try this with other relevant executives that might be able to help your effort.

And if they are really helpful or don’t seem to mind the correspondence, then go ahead and open the correspondence by emailing them more often.  Be careful not to abuse it.  Maybe start with once a month, or every couple of weeks if you have something relevant to say.  It will only take a few back and forth responses in a respectful conversation to become ‘known’.  And that can be very beneficial down the road.

Your CEO is a human being just like you.  And a sincere online conversation between two people can sometimes break down the barriers of titles or positions.

Try it.  What have you got to lose?

Create a Video

Problem:

Many people in your company don’t understand or respect what your group does.  If they only knew about your group, you might be able to help them better, or you might eliminate a bunch of duplicative work, or there would be less questions you’d have to deal with, or the company would just be a lot more effective.

Solution:

Create a video about what your group does.  Show how you can help other groups, or the kinds of things people should contact your group for, or the process your group uses to handle work, or whatever fits your situation.

Have fun with it, include everyone in your group, get some candid shots when they’re not looking, and find some cool music to add.  Then post it on your internal web site.  You must have a way to do that by now.  Dig into your IT department or webmaster to find out.  Otherwise, if it’s not proprietary info, just use YouTube or Vimeo and include the video link on your website, email signature, posters, or however you want to spread the word about the awesomeness of your group.

Video production is pretty easy these days.  You could even make it a habit and create a video once a month, or once a week, on different aspects of your group, or to provide status to upper levels (or anyone) on how you are progressing with whatever project you’re working on.  It’ll be a lot more interesting than a PowerPoint presentation.

Share Ideas

Problem:

Your group doesn’t function like you think it should.

Solution:

At your next group meeting, give a book report on a subject that addresses your particular concern.  It could be something like 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Radical Leap, Drive, Jamming, Breakthrough Teams, etc.

Sure, you can try to ask your boss to give you some time on the agenda, but if that’s not likely, just wait until the end when they usually say, “Does anyone have anything they’d like to share?”  That’s when you speak up and say, “Yes, I’d like to tell you all about this amazing book I just read.” 

Of course, you’ll have to be brief, but that’s better.  You can even choose to only talk about a specific chapter each week, or if you like to read alot, maybe you talk about a different book each week.

Maybe things won’t change after your first week, or even your 6th week, but over time, I’m sure something will start to happen.  People will talk.  You’ll be known for something.

What type of reputation do you want to have?  Go ahead.  Create it.

What kind of team do you want to have?  Do your part to make it happen.

Break Artificial Boundaries

Problem: 

Your corporate organizational structure creates silos that prevent collaboration between people who may work on similar items or have similar interests.

Solution:

Does your boss care what you eat for lunch?  Does he or she care who you eat with?

If the answer is ‘no’, then schedule a lunchtime forum and invite all the people you want to collaborate with.  Create flyers, send them to multiple email distribution lists, make it look like a big initiative.  Tell everyone to bring their own lunch and that you’re going to discuss a particular topic.  Don’t stress out about a polished presentation, the main point is to get to know people’s names.

You could even just show up and say, “I just wanted to get your thoughts on this particular subject.”  Or, “I know we’re in different organizations, but I thought it would be beneficial for us to know each other and share what we’re working on so we can help each other out if we need to.”

You can figure out what will work best in your situation.  And you don’t have to ask permission because your boss doesn’t care what you do during lunch, right?  If it’s beneficial and actually improves things, what boss wouldn’t want you to do that?

Breaking artificial boundaries is easy, especially since they are artificial.