Thursday, July 27, 2006

Another Times piece - from yesterday's paper - on positive deviants in the workplace.

It's not that I'm changing my newspaper allegience, honest. It's that I was walking past a newsagent, and I saw this headline that said "why companies need people who step out of line."

And I thought, that's me. When I had a job-job, I was always the person saying "why are we doing it like this?" (or more likely, why are we doing it this stupid way). I rocked the boat, I said what I thought. I mean, I was good at what I did, and I made lots of people lots of money, but I think I was a... maverick. I had my own questioning way of doing things, but everyone in my team always got more than their estimated bonus, because we met and way exceeded every target that was set.

Not least because I spent a huge amount of time in board meetings parrying the budget. What I realised was, like everything, you can game it. So, the first year, I set myself a tough, realistic target. That's what people did. But then, in the next budget year process, I realised that it's a negotiation. I put my bid in for the highest-cost-base, lowest-revenue scenario. Then we parried (although with manicures and highlights). Then I got something a bit more, but achievable. Then I negotiated something extra for the team for an increase over the target. Of course all the politicking meant I hardly ever saw my team, but as, at that time, I was quite shouty, they were probably quite happy. I was like an interpreter - I spoke our language and the board's, and was an intercessor between the two.

I remember once, having a whole conversation with my CEO about overheads (which were the thing, eventually, that made me leave). I was trying to negotiate a payment holiday. We talked about it for a few weeks, and then she said, "where did this payment holiday thing come from?" And I said, "my head" and the whole thing fell apart. She thought it was real.

Anyway, this is all sidetrackage. I thought this article was about people like me. But it wasn't, really. The people in the piece were less difficult than I was, although shared the... (I hate this phrase) thinking-out-of-the-boxness that I like. But interesting nonetheless. I commend it to you all. Also, it quotes someone I grew up with, who has clearly recovered from my sitting on his head when he was six months old.

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