In order to climb the ladder in an organization, it is important to understand, from the roots up, operational details about how the organization is running. Often you will hear grumblings in the organization. When organizations are unhappy, they grumble. Grumbling organizations are not very productive. Listening intently, you can hear company difficulties coming before they hit. Ever walk into a room and feel the thickness in the air? One day, years ago during a meeting, I heard someone from customer support saying, “Let the customer go to the competitors, see if I care.” Usually a comment like this is indicative of a much larger problem. They may have a work load that is too large, they may be missing key resources necessary in order to do their job, there may be a difficult boss situation, or even a complex personal situation. The organization may have cut back staff, and they may be left with way too much work. Those are good questions for leadership.
The conversation may go something like this. Do you think we have enough staff in customer support (to Vice President of Support)? Answer may come back, “Yes, we are fully staffed.”
Well, I overheard a staff member make a very negative comment, and I was just wondering if maybe his/her team was understaffed. Comment Shared.
“Who said that?” Never reveal your source, you will need them again. They are usually not the problem, just a sign that there are problems. You could simply say, ‘I’d rather not say, I just thought that it may be indicative of a broader problem in support for that area of the company.’
As it turned out, that department was understaffed at the time. Had I revealed the name of the person that said the comment, it wouldn’t have improved the root of the problem, it would have only made matters worse. Don’t reveal your negative sources of data. Knowing the information is more powerful than revealing your negative sources. Now, positive sources of data, that is an entirely different discussion.
By keeping your sources confidential, you will be trusted in the organization. Staff will not feel like they have to tip toe around you. You will begin to see and hear things that the others in leadership do not see and hear. You will have your finger on the heartbeat of the business. It will help you climb the ladder. Companies need thought leaders that understand the operational dilemmas and can help solve the root of the problems at hand.
by Bethany Williams