Here’s a thought.
What would your day be like if you traded places with the sales guys? Or the Director of Business Development? Or the customer service guys and gals? What if these folks “took you to work” and you shadowed them for a day? Participated in their meetings, answered their phone calls… as a sales guy/gal and not as an engineer?
You know, sort of like when your kids take Mom or Dad to school for show and tell. Except this is for big people.
What would your company be like if your sales guys spent a day in engineering? And answered your phone calls? Or at least your phone calls became conference calls so they could hear the conversations you deal with during the day. You know, have your business development / sales folks become junior engineers for the day.
Another version of this idea is Monday Morning Musical Chairs.Everyone meets in the Board Room and circles the table.You can even play music and everyone can sit down when the music stops. Except there is always a chair for everyone. And then look under your chair for a piece of paper with the department / position to which you’ve been assigned for the day.
Question: why does cross-training need to be made into a game in order for everyone to accept it? Be honest with me. When you were reading the above paragraphs, your mind kind of opened up, didn’t it? You became a bit child-like and went back to “that place:” the place in our minds where our childhood still exists and where we liked to play with the other children.We were open to new ideas and a constantly changing playing field on the playground at recess.
It’s just a thought. And it adds a light-hearted quality to our passion and dedication towards our jobs.Perhaps trading places is a way of bringing back humor and an out-of-the-box perspective to our careers.
What if you, personally, traded places once a month? Do you think you might find out a complementary career path you could pursue? Perhaps you will unearth some new talents, different perspectives and a fresh way of communicating with your colleagues.
You know, I used to “sign myself out” in a former corporate life and spend a day with the venture capital guys.It was pretty amazing. I learned stuff like how not to fall asleep due to a post-lunch food coma during those 1 PM meetings under fluorescent lights dominated by lengthy PowerPoint presentations. I learned about watching the dynamics of body language during meetings, and how it worked or didn’t. I learned there were a lot more departments floating around than I knew about. I visited the Ops folks and fell in love with prototyping and ramping up to full production runs. And the machinery! Oh the machinery! (I travel with safety glasses at all times in case any prospect or client invites me to walk around the plant).
I realized I had something to share with folks who normally were outside of my typical interdepartmental contacts. I learned who were the movers and shakers. I identified the guys and gals who would make the best skunk works new product development team. (And by the way boys and girls, I actually got to work with these folks on a new product that is still top of category.) I learned there were people in my organization who were just as frustrated as I was but had learned how to work across silos and disciplines for at least part of their day. They were the true leaders and teachers. It was revelatory. And I am who I am today and what I am today because of all of these folks and the hours we spent interacting and brainstorming and learning from each other.
Trading Places is sort of like an internal apprenticeship. It’s not just for the white collars or the blue collars or the MBAs or the new hires fresh out of some college.You don’t know until you get there and you won’t get there until you decide to sign yourself out for a day and trade places.
Or convince management to have those once-a-month “musical chairs” Trading Places meetings.
Just some food for thought. Think about it.