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Home > Audio, Podcast > Your job depends on those around you

Your job depends on those around you

April 11th, 2008

Career Opportunities podcast logoYour job depends on those around you
By Douglas E. Welch

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As many of you already know, in the corporate world, relations between departments can often be adversarial. Finance fights with creative, sales fights with manufacturing and almost everyone fights with IT. The problems that arise from this go much deeper than stalled company initiatives and delayed products. If you continue to develop adversarial relationships you might be putting yourself on the fast path to layoff.

There are many good reasons to cooperate with those around you, even if they are in a different department. It makes your life easier and you more productive. People are more inclined to help you when you offer help in return. Most importantly, you may find that you have impressed them enough that they are willing and able to help you when the downsizing begins. This is exactly what happened to me during some rough times in my last corporate career.

I had been working for this company for 3 years and layoffs were a yearly occurrence as projects ended, slowed down or stalled. I had survived 3 or 4 layoffs already but the next one was very deep and effected many operational departments such as IT, where I worked. The day came and I was told that I was indeed being laid off, but…another department or more specifically a manager from that department had asked to take me on as their own departmental IT staffer. Whew!

After I moved to the new position, I asked my manager what had made him think to pick me up? Simply, it was because he was impressed with the work I had done for his department over the years. Without even thinking about it, I had impressed someone with the quality of my work and saved myself a major headache. Of course, it can be even better when you are actively thinking about your work and the impression it has on others. After all, wouldn’t you like to hear the same thing when presented with a layoff?

If you constantly view your work with other departments as an “us vs them” issue, you are limiting your career choices.

So, how can you help to cultivate relationships that can help you in the future? First, and easiest, simply do the best work you can. I know it sounds obvious, but it is so easy to get tied up in interdepartmental squabbles and start treating those folks like second class citizens. Step outside any adversarial relationships that already exist. Don’t let your managers bad relationships become yours. In fact, do whatever you can to reach beyond these bad relationships and foster your own individual detente with other effected workers. Your bosses may hate each other, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work together. In fact, you might find that you will have your jobs long after this particular manager is gone. I find that those managers who constantly fight others don’t tend to stick around.

On a more personal note, befriend co-workers in other departments. Typically we only hang out with those in our own department. You might go out to lunch together or do something after work. This is only natural, but you can improve your career dramatically by not limiting your friendships to just your department. You will find it easier to work with people you know more deeply, develop an understanding of the work they do and also be privy to changes in their department that might effect your own. If an adversarial relationship starts to develop, you can help to defuse the situation since you already have a relationship with your colleagues. Finally, developing relationships with other departments can be a great way to discover potential exit strategies, should your current job be in danger. You might be able to find a position in this other department or even make a lateral move into a new career.

If you constantly view your work with other departments as an “us vs them” issue, you are limiting your career choices. Every department has a role to play and each worker must do everything in their power to rise above politics and personality conflicts. You will not only be doing this for the good of your department or company. You will be doing it to protect your own career.


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