As a consultant, I’ve had the pleasure of working in many distinct environments and cultures. There was the US Navy where a strict chain of command was obviously enforced. There were large corporations such as IBM and HealthNet. Government agencies include the State of California, California State University and Sacramento County. I also have worked for a small consulting firm an also as an independent contractor. They are all unique places to work for that have different rules of engagement.
By rules of engagement, I’m referring to how things get done and communicated. I had the unpleasant experience of watching a colleague unsuccessfully try to get things done casually, when the organization was driven by formality. When he heard the manager had an open door policy, the assumption he made was that he could just drop in to discuss whatever was on his mind. The manager did in fact have an open door policy, but – the manager also liked to have meetings booked in a calendar with a clear objective or point of discussion. She was not into what I call drive-bys, or drop ins. This lack of understanding got my colleague off to a very rocky start with the manager, something that could have been easily avoided, if he only took the time to understand the culture before he took action.
Don’t assume that just because an organization is small that it is informal. Or that just because it is large, that it is a bureaucracy.
To avoid putting your foot in your mouth, make it a priority to understand how your organization works. Even for little things.
Lead With Honor,