It’s not about me

Earlier, I wrote a general post, It’s not about you, that discussed the importance of focusing on business and people impacts, not your own personal feelings, when you are e-mailing. Today, I would like to take a look at this in my own career.

There was a time when I was young and foolish, when I thought that the fact that something troubled me was enough to warrant pushing for corporate change. In this case, it had to to with the way certain aspects of customer intake where handled in the organization. I wrote to my boss, in copy to his superior, that I was spending too much time on something I didn’t think was my job. I imagine my boss heard about it from his superior. I know I heard about it in all directions. And with good reason: I had kicked up a fuss without offering either a definition of the problem nor any good solutions.

I subsequently backed up and made some adjustments to my own workflow. And I discovered that I could work with the adjustments in a way that was satisfactory to me. But the business results in customer intake faltered. Here, then, was a problem not for me, but for the organization. And as I looked at it, I realized that I myself did not have enough cycles to fix it – I was hourly and not allowed overtime. This time I pulled up the numbers, made graphs of several inputs and outputs, and showed that there was a cost to the way we were doing things. This time, when I wrote, I closed by noting that in my own role, things were working fine – no negative feedback on metrics related specifically to my job description – but that what was happening wasn’t healthy for the business.

My second e-mail got a lot more attention because it was not about me, but about the business. It wasn’t based on feelings, but on data. And it didn’t simply say that something wasn’t right, it highlighted missed opportunities. This prompted a review of the workflow in the office and this time changes were made.

I’ve learned a lot since then – it was more than a decade ago – and since then I have helped others avoid the same mistake I made.

To learn more about how I can help you, please visit my main page at career-communication.com.

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