In almost every company, there’s some really wonderful groups. The manager has the right balance of knowledge and heart. Employees are motivated, productive, and helpful. That group gets stuff done.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a rarity in most companies. Even those which are recognized as “great companies” by highly paid analysts and famous authors rarely have a great culture which pervades every corner. Or, at least, they seem to lose that culture when they hit a size of 500 employees or so.
Go ahead and look for those small companies which have truly outstanding cultures, but that’s not what I’m writing about today. Instead, let’s look for great groups inside the larger companies, perhaps even the one you work for today.
I’m a bit surprised to see that these great groups aren’t necessarily more stable than other groups around them. You’d think that with high productivity, focus and morale that the company would want to keep them around. In a way, that’s true, but it’s also true that a group like this is markedly different than others around it. That results in friction, which can ultimately lead to its demise or restructuring.
Don’t bother to complain about this fact – it’s just the way things are. Human nature.
Let’s look around your company. There’s probably going to be a few leaders who are great at what they do. Over the years, they have a loyal following of many employees who would jump at the chance to work for them again. Through many reorganizations, level changes, and even moving to a different company, they’ll have people who would want to work for them in ANY context.
So your first task is to ask your colleagues near and far:
- Who has been your favorite manager in this company?
- What did you like about them and the group they were managing?
- What other managers have you heard great things about?
When a manager creates a great group culture, they can probably do it again and again, no matter WHAT the environment around them. Realize that those managers can see when this happens, have an incredible amount of fun, and strive for the rest of their careers to re-create the experience.
Your second task is to find small groups of people who work well together, so again ask other employees:
- Who have been your best co-workers?
- How did they help you to be your best?
- What other great teams have you heard about?
Sometimes these teams will have a working style that helps and supports you, and other times they’ll just happen to be friends for other reasons. But you’ll learn a lot by asking WHY they helped each other to be effective.
Now that you’ve highlighted a few groups which might be great to be a part of, you’ll start the long slow process of positioning yourself to be suited to move that direction. Do all the things you need to do to accomplish any job move: Develop relationships. Learn about what they need. Build the necessary skills and experience.
Don’t lose faith, though. It’s worth working with a great team, because it will be an experience you remember for the rest of your life. And you’ll work hard to re-create that every chance you get.
You may just turn into the leader that others will follow to the ends of the earth. This is how they get created.
by Carl Dierschow