I spent 3 hrs there today even though my official start date is 1-February. They had a “kick off” meeting for the project I was hired to manage. Yeah, if you know project management, it seems odd to have a kick off meeting led by someone other than the project manager. But, I would call this more of a “kick off the idea of the project” meeting. A lot of the people haven’t heard about the project they are assigned to be a part of. This was the meeting where it was introduced to them.
So, why did I leave in such a great mood? I love this company. Twice in my life, I have had a job fall into my lap with a great company. And each time, right before it happened, I had decided that I wanted a certain type of job in a certain type of company (industry) of a certain size, located in a certain place. The first time – I got it – and it was great. This time, it has happened again. But, there is a cynic in me that wonders if lightning will strike twice – will it actually be a great job?? Will this company be exactly what I hope it is? So far, so good.
When I walked into the place today, everyone welcomed me. You know how when you are introduced to someone the exchange goes. Nice to meet you, followed by a nice to meet you, and all while doing the handshake. The first person I was introduced to, shook my hand and said, “we are so happy you were able to join us.” Kind of took me by surprise. I thought it was just this one person. Nope. EVERYONE said that regardless of what level of the company they are in the org chart – executive down to the receptionist. And many of these people did not know why I was there, yet it was all genuine.
Then, as the meeting was underway, I was struck by another thing: they aren’t jaded!! They have been successful, they have passion for what they are doing, and they don’t go negative immediately upon hearing something. For example: at the old company, if someone mentioned a Phase 2 of a project, the entire room would start laughing. Why? There was never a Phase 2, and everyone knew that. This mention of a Phase 2 was the sign for everyone in the room to start entrenching themselves for battle because they were not going to negotiate or compromise. Today, this was mentioned, and everyone nodded and didn’t say anything. They actually believed the leadership. There were no rolled eyes, no laughter, no comments of “yeah right”. They all went “okay – makes sense” and moved on. I was floored, to be honest. Until that point, I had not realized how dysfunctional and toxic the old company had become. I mean, one of the execs basically told someone that something she thought was important would not make the cut because it is not core to meeting the objectives. Her response? “I can see that. Okay. Thanks.” A person at the old company would have fought to do the death at that very moment to prove the person wrong.
And the company culture is truly a place where they are living their goals. It is a green company – so they have no trash cans at each desk. Recycling is king. And if you have trash, you must put them in one of the few trash cans centrally located throughout the building. (I actually love this because I had coworkers in the past who would toss their paper instead of recycling it. Drove me nuts!) They have fun at work. They enjoy interacting with each other. They use technology in new and innovative ways. One of the technologies they use is a business focused social portal – think Facebook with a business bend. And it’s just for the company’s internal use. I love that. And everyone is using it too. And IT people who are excited about technology.
I’m in love.
I found out from the recruiter that they turned down the more experienced project manager with direct experience with the software application being implemented. When they asked why, the response they got was I was a better fit. I understood their culture. I fit into their culture. I wasn’t going to be a know it all; I was going to know who knew it all. Thank you old CIO and Mentor for teaching me that you don’t have to be an expert on everything to be a good leader. I might have to send him a note of thanks for that one.
I am going in eyes wide open though. I can already see that the woman from the consulting firm is not happy they will be accountable to me. They were first inside the door and have been advising the executive team closely. I can tell she wasn’t happy. Hell, it was easy to tell as she refused to acknowledge me. Sadly, she will learn (the hard way) that those games do not bug me – they only entertain me. And I have spotted the internal person who wants to share her expertise in this area – saw her giving the CFO a 20 minute persuasive speech on it all. And the CFO looked in pain. Hey, there is always one in the crowd. Glad I spotted her sooner rather than later. Oh, and the CFO thinks he knows how to run this project…..uhm, he doesn’t. But, I’m not too worried there. More of something to note.
Oh, and the last thing I noticed – this place didn’t feel like a sucking vortex – like there are forces out to ensure success is not possible. That is exactly how the old company continues to feel. I feel my stress and blood pressure rise just walking through the door. The new company was just the opposite feeling. No stress. Just a feeling of possibilities – and ways I can help. Not to say that this project won’t stress me out at some point – it will…..from about April through July to be precise. But, it is such a wonderful feeling having it start out so well.