Starting over sounds like fun. Remember when Billy Madison got to do all 12 years of school over again? He challenged his father to let him redo each grade from 1st to 12th for two weeks per grade. The goal was for Billy to show that he can work hard on his own, and therefore, be qualified to take over the family business. And as a gibberish-speaking, Nintendo-playing, flaming bag of doggie poo lighting, raging drunk, that was going to be quite a feat.
Now perhaps you work for such a company owner. Maybe, like Billy, your leader beat the odds and somehow ended up in the leader seat, despite having to wear loafer or Velcro shoes only due to an inability to tie a shoelace. Maybe you’re wishing for your own do-over, or least the quickest escape.
We both know that repairing the mistakes of others is an uphill climb. It’s exhausting and it’s deflating to the soul. Better would be to have a prevention plan in place and work from proactivity. But this is for another blog….
What stands out from this is a positional consideration. It’s very true that being at the ready with a dust pan and brush stinks, but consider using different tools and a different context.
If you’ve been positioned as a janitor, despite being hired for what you thought was a different role, act like you’re working in the position you were hired for. Stop taking on only a cleaning role, but more, stop letting others think that is your role. You can’t always quit your job and just start over somewhere else. It’s not that easy. Enact subtle changes now to re-position yourself into the role you were hired for originally.
What if, instead of loathing the company owner described above, you chose to be a partner? Put yourself on his/her schedule for breakfast or lunch. Ask about his/her hopes for the company. Ask how he/she hopes to get that done. Ask how he/she sees the organization needing to change or bend to make that happen. Put down the broom and pick up a pen (or iPad). Have a couple of meals together to unpack these questions and the ones they’ll lead to. Take notes. You’ll see the small ways you can insert your expertise and ideas into the conversation. You can begin to change the view of your role in that leader’s eyes.
Come back to mission and vision. Plan, in your second to fourth meal time, to bring up what you understand the mission to be. How does your manager see it? Are there connections to the expressed hopes for the organization? You’re now moving into an analytical posture with your leadership. That’s an attractive position because it opens the door wider for analysis of the organization.
Look at the team around you, too. Where are strengths being used? Where are they lacking? And is the right person doing the right thing? You already know that your role has mutated unhealthily, so don’t be surprised that others are suffering in the same way. Put down the dust pan and pick up a conductor’s baton. Pull them out of it and put them in places to showcase the hirable skills originally displayed. And if there are tasks that need to be done, get them done, but be smart about assigning them. Look to see where those tasks make the most sense. Remember, you can then speak to your manager about this thoughtfulness and restructuring in the context of the conversations you’ve been having with him/her.
That alignment is a display of giftedness meant for your role. Granted, clean-up is important, especially when you first get to a company. However, don’t stay in that posture. Just because you can clean up doesn’t mean you should always do it. And if there is that much going on, something is broken and you can fix it.
A stumble along this new path may occur. You might find that the last week has put you back into clean-up mode only. It’s okay. You’re re-training yourself as well as others. A step back is not uncommon. Just make a course correction.
You can start over right where you are. Make weeks into escapades rather than preparation to escape! You don’t need to go back to first grade to prove you have something valuable to offer. But, if you start seeing giant penguins running around the office, the pressure has definitely gotten to you. Time to use some PTO.