Make waves, whilst you can.

Ben Francis
Mar 4, 2016 · 3 min read

An actual conversation overheard at my desk this morning:

“It’s my first week, I don’t want to make waves”

“It’s ok to make waves, in fact it’s good. If something doesn’t look right, doesn’t feel right, call it out”

I love the company I work for. I love our culture — it is what stands us apart as a great place to work and it is what will drive our growth and innovation into an uncertain future. A culture of trust where anyone in the system can challenge the norm or question an existing point of view of how things have always been done is extremely valuable, but often the most impactful people who will transform the way we do business or the way we tackle a particular challenge or opportunity are the new amongst us, the fresh set of eyes!

Whenever you find yourself in a new team, a new organisation, or even a new role my make sure you use your newness. Take advantage of the fact that you bring a different perspective to your new environment and dynamic. Understand that you are not burdened by history, by the weight of baggage, by the failures of the past.

I’ll share a quote from a Senior Executive who recently joined our company — he said “every day I am here my value to you diminishes”. Now what he means by this is every day you are in your new environment you are being indoctrinated, you are being influenced by the existing culture and by the status quo. Your ability to view things in a new way is degraded as you become part of the ecosystem you have joined. Strike whilst the iron is hot, take action early.

Remember that you also have the naivety on your side. You can ask the unaskable questions; you can point out the obvious (to you at least) and you can, in a very positive way, unsettle the established rhythm.

Of course to do this in an impactful and positive fashion (and not just upset your new team) you need to focus on a few things:

•Challenge Respectfully. Understand that long held points of view are long held for a reason. Maybe even legitimate ones. So be respectful of existing beliefs and take into account the collective knowledge and experience of your new colleagues.

•Come with solutions. Don’t just point out problems or shortcomings but bring real world ideas and options to the table. You will start a positive discussion rather than generate defensiveness and resistance.

•Be genuinely curious. Ask lots of insightful questions around the topic you are trying to explore. Get different points of view from within the organisation to ensure you have the broadest picture possible.

•Volunteer to be part of the outcome. If you are going to light the fuse, make sure you are standing there when the time comes to rebuild the rubble. You will build trust and integrity quickly if you lean in and take practical steps to drive and even own the change.

Above all be passionate and sincere with any suggestion you put forward. You have a unique opportunity to have a real impact in your new environment so speak up, identify opportunities, play your ‘newbie’ card.

Make waves.

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.

Ben Francis

Written by

Raconteur, aspiring polymath, gourmand.

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