I’ve been at my new gig for about a month, and I’m starting to notice a few philosophical differences. Here’s what I’m seeing:
Invitation Only. At my old gig, I was at the director level. A couple of years ago, most directors were members of the management team, but I, and a few others, were not. At first, it was not uncommon for people to say “oh, you’re here? I assumed you were out because you weren’t at the management team meeting.” I’d explain that I wasn’t invited to be part of the management team, so I wasn’t ditching meetings, I wasn’t being invited to them. It was humiliating, if I thought too much about it, and demotivating, even if I didn’t. Even though I have four years of documented excellent performance at that level, I took a step down, title-wise for the job I’m in now (for lots of good reasons, including the opportunity to build new skills), and am now a manager. Most managers are not members of the management team, in my new organization. But they invited a handful of us to be. That was true of my old organization when I started, also— I was invited to things even though I was very junior, because leadership thought I might have something useful to contribute. It was wildly motivational for someone like me, and I strove to be worthy of that kind of faith in me. I find myself reacting in much the same way, this time. Invite me into the conversation and I’ll try even harder to do you proud.
Development. The HR director just asked all employees what professional development activities we each engaged in, last month. A good friend of mine says that I’m always striving for an A-plus, (she’s not wrong. I’m just one of those front-of-the-classroom people), so I was engaging in professional development outside of work, but I also did a bunch of professional development as part of getting up and running in my new role. (See “opportunity to build new skills,” above.) So I shared information about all of that. They haven’t told me why they collect this information or whether it’s tied to performance evaluations or financial incentives, but frankly, just the thought that they are interested enough to ask whether I’m doing it is helpful to me. I do things like Toastmasters and Coursera and professional reading as part of my A-plussiness, but at my previous employer, the first thing to be eliminated from the budget was professional development money. If I asked for information or resources (like when I became a first-time supervisor), they led with “we don’t have the budget for that.” Many years ago, when I let them know I wanted to adjust my schedule so I could go to grad school full-time while I worked full-time, they said “you know we won’t pay you any extra, once you have that degree, right?” My current employer isn’t paying for my professional development activities, either, but simply by tracking it, they’re reinforcing what they tell me about it, which is that they support and value it. So I feel like there’s even more reason for me to apply myself to it. They hired me about a month ago. I have job-specific skills and training I didn’t have when I started. I’m technically more valuable to them than when they hired me, for no additional expense on their parts. Where is the organizational downside?