Frank was a young man who didn’t like his job. What Frank struggled with were things like prefabricated rules and regulations, as well as the corporate politics that limited what he could and couldn’t do in his role within the human resources department.
All the rules set in place by the company stifled his creativity. For example, Frank once created a very comprehensive HR audit process, a development that nobody else in the department had previously built or put into practice. Frank believed it would provide more interaction with the field employees, as well as give HR the necessary regulatory information it needed.
Frank created the audit process on his own, with some input from his peers. When he presented the tool at a staff meeting, which included the company’s executive vice president, she criticized it and said that HR couldn’t use it. The only reason Frank could surmise was that the process was created without her input and without a direct initiative given by her.
His tool wasn’t rejected because it was poorly designed; it was rejected because he didn’t go through the proper channels to get permission to design it in the first place.
Frank’s office environment embraced a “process culture.” Following pre-established rules and processes overruled almost all other factors, including creativity and innovation, in defining “success.”
Cut to six months later, the end of the year approaching. Only then did the HR staff discover that they would have to clean up the database manually, and fast, before the year ended. This time-consuming process could have been avoided if they had implemented Frank’s proposed audit tool back in the spring!
Understand that every workplace has its politics. You must know what spoken or unspoken rules govern the place. For example, some companies are very open about their internal organizational hierarchy: who reports to whom, how management is structured, or which channels new rules and processes must pass through before they can be okayed and implemented.
Other companies are very closed off about such things and don’t really make their hierarchies known. Likewise, some higher-ups give their employees chances and room galore to make mistakes and learn from them, while others adhere to a strict three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy.
Observe how business is done and look for who “holds the keys,” so to speak; that is, who is the real decision maker.
If this topic interests you, learn more in my book, From Cornered to Corner Office.