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Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge

Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge
Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge Geoffrey Bellman You are not in charge and you want to make a difference: that is the dilemma. You may not know who is in charge in today's changing, temporary, and virtual organizations, but you know you are not! You are searching for ways to contribute through the work you do and gain some personal satisfaction in the process. This book can help you do just that. In this new edition of his classic book, Geoff Bellman shows readers how to make things happen in any organization regardless of their formal position. The new edition has been written for a wider audience, including people in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, paid and volunteer workers, managers and individual contributors, contract and freelance workers. More than seventy percent of the material is brand new, including new examples, new chapters, new exercises, and much more. Geoffrey M. Bellman Getting Things Done When You Are Not in Charge, Second Edition To Michaela, Joshua, and Geoffrey Preface You are not in charge. You may not be clear who is in charge, but you know that you are not. In spite of this, you want to do your work well, you want to contribute to the organization, and you want to succeed personally. These wants often cause conflict, as you are challenged to support others’ goals while working toward your own. You feel irritated by the difficulty of trying to get something done and not having the power to do it. You feel constrained by the formal and informal boundaries of the organization. You try to do your best, but keep running up against the rules of play in the organization you are trying to help. You may work in the profit or not-for-profit sector. You may give your time or work for money. You may be a manager, a director, a salaried or an hourly worker. It does not matter. You share with many others the desire to do good work, the need for recognition, and the frustration of having your efforts blocked by the very organization you are trying to serve. You are not as powerless as you sometimes feel: that is the main premise of this book. This book explores the many ways you can get things done, support the work of others, and find greater life fulfillment through your work. There are ways of dealing with the issues inherent in working for an organization. I know the issues well after thirty-five years in and around organizations. I have lived with the dilemmas of working from the middle of large corporations, government agencies, school systems, hospitals, foundations, and not-for-profit organizations. I have had amazing success and sobering failure, and I have learned. This book builds on my learning, and on the learning of others with whom I have worked, and it can be a guide to your learning as well. It is my answer to the question “How can you feel good about your work and make a difference when you have little formal power?” Organizations loom large in our lives; you know the struggles that come with working in them. You know what it is like to have clear, constructive intentions and to be confounded by the way this place works. You know how hard it is to hold onto hope while faced with daily frustrations. You know the stress, the burnout, the fatigue, and you have felt yourself alternately rising to the challenge or sinking into skepticism. You see those frequent “learning opportunities” that come with trying to get something done, and sometimes feel that you have learned enough – it is somebody else’s turn. You know the energy it takes to step back into the fray, and are tempted just to save your energy and protect yourself. This book helps your pursuit of the hope, the challenge, the opportunity, and the learning from right where you are now, in your formally less-powerful position. “I am not in charge.” Can you hear yourself saying these words? Say them aloud or in your mind: What do you sound like? What was your tone of voice? How did you feel? When did you last say something like this to someone about your work? As I have listened to myself and others say these words, I sort the statements and their underlying feelings into two stacks: One stack sounds more active, hopeful, or even matter-of-fact; the other sounds more passive, powerless, or even victimized. Over my many work years, I have contributed to both stacks… and guess which stack I feel better about. If you are not in charge, who is? That is a good question. You will see, as you read further, that I doubt any one person is truly in charge. We create a sense of purpose and responsibility together, and we do it in ways that make us all interdependent – whether we choose to see it that way or not. Everyone is accountable to others, and that accountability circles back within the boundaries of an organization, helping to define what it is and what it does. We point to the CEO’s or ED’s or Chairs as if they are in charge, but that is more our wish for simplicity and security than it is an expression of reality. We maintain the “inchargeness” that selected people experience for organizational convenience; we know just how much and how little they are really in charge of. We agree to putting some people “in charge,” knowing that they have to earn the support of the people around them if they are to get anything done. If anyone is in charge around here, it is the top executive, right? Well, no. In my close work with the leaders of many organizations, I have noticed the direct relationship between their effectiveness and not being in charge. Said differently, those executives who constantly be-have as if they are in charge are not nearly as effective as those who act as if they are not. What This New Edition Is About Fifteen years ago, I wrote what I thought was my first and last book on getting things done from the middle of large organizations. That book was titled The Quest for Staff Leadership; it was written for the managers of service and support functions in corporate America. The book was well received, went through five printings, and even received a national award. Six years later I revised the book significantly, wrote it to a wider audience – everyone in support positions in the corporate world. And here I am rewriting it yet again, and reaching out beyond the corporate world to everyone in the middle of organizations of any kind. This rewriting, moving from book two to book three, is just as significant as the move from book one to book two. There are two main reasons: what has been happening in the organization world and what I have learned along the way. In the fifteen years since book one, the organization world has been chaotic. Reading over my earlier versions reminded me of how much the organizational world has changed in less than a generation. Information technology and systems, cyberspace, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, virtual teams, global marketplace, generation X, politics, prosperity, recession, dot.coms, shifting demography, aging population, health care, education, and you could add to the list. Change is in the air. It is disrupting everything and everyone who tries to remain static, and it looks as if this unpredictable untidiness will continue indefinitely. All of this external change profoundly affects the ways we get things done, and makes working successfully from the middle even more important than ever before. I have added fifteen years to my work experience, and I have added years of not-for-profit experience to my years with for-profits. I’ve had more time to watch for patterns. I’ve learned more about what allows people to thrive in the middle of organizations, and I am more encouraged than ever about the opportunities present in today’s emerging organizations for the able, invested individual. This new book might better be called an adaptation than a new edition. Not a paragraph has gone untouched; much of it is brand new. The entire book has been refocused, rewritten, and reordered. Why I Wrote This Book Work is central, whether you are telecommuting from home, or traveling with an electronic tether back to the office, or showing up daily to pursue the same work in the same cubicle, or giving hours a week to your community. Work is a primary way to develop yourself while contributing to the world. You have the opportunity to pursue your life’s meaning through working, and this book was written to help you in that pursuit. There ought to be more to life in an organization than just “earning a living” or “doing your duty.” Work offers the real possibility of accomplishing something wonderful for yourself, for the people you work with, for the organization you serve, and even for the community and world beyond. Through this book I will help you to consider what you want to accomplish and to do something about it. Your effectiveness in your various tasks and your power with the others with whom you work, comes from your sense of work’s importance in your life. Your enthusiasm for your work and your delight with your contribution are directly connected to your sense that this work has meaning in your life. This book is infused with the essential importance of work to our lives; we have the opportunity (free or forced) to work and discover ourselves in the process. Our daily practical choices can lead us toward the lives we want. The higher authority of our own life purpose can inform each decision we make in a way that gives us more success and happiness. At least, that is what I am reaching for through writing this book; I hope to be a guide for you in your work life. The practical choices and actions involved in doing this will become clear in later chapters. Who Is This Book For? If you regularly work with an organization – for money or for free – and you want to succeed for the sake of the organization and of yourself, then this book is for you. All you need to bring is the willingness to improve yourself and the organization. You do not need a high salary or position; you do not need a diploma or a desk. But you do need to bring yourself and the belief that your work can be a source of happiness. Many of our most successful workers love working. It’s not unusual to find two people working side by side, where she loves her work and he hates it – and both have the same job. What makes the difference? It is clearly not the nature of the work itself; it has more to do with how people approach it. And how they approach others. These two people with exactly the same roles have made regular choices about how they will deal with others, and each choice has its own consequences. These two people choose how they see their roles, and that choice too has consequences. All of this is played out within an organization culture full of expectations and assumptions about the people working there, yielding even more consequences. This book is for people who relish – or would like to relish – going to work each day because their work holds promise. Rather than wasting their breath complaining about their lack of formal power, they build their personal power and get things done. How to Read This Book I have written this book for the busy person who seldom reads a book from cover to cover. After the introduction and first chapter, go where your current issues and interests take you. I did not write the book in the order you find it, and you do not have to read it sequentially. Open it to a random chapter and start reading. You will find that most chapters, after first guiding your thinking to a few key points, offer examples, actions, and exercises that help you think more deeply about your work – and maybe even do something about it. Acknowledgments Life does not allow us to succeed on our own; others are essential in defining who we are. I am especially indebted to the many organizations with whom I have worked as an employee or a consultant, for pay or for free, over the last thirty-five years. They taught me how to work with them. Whatever you find useful here, I learned there. I appreciate the experienced eyes and professional minds who critiqued the first edition of this book and suggested what I might do this time: Thank you Allan Paulson, Kathleen Webb Tunney, Frank Basler, Cathie Leavitt, and Jeff Pym. Sheila Kelly did the editing; she is a joy to work with – and even more fun to be married to. Steve Piersanti and his company, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, treat me in ways that most authors only dream of. It is a privilege to work with him again, on this our fifth book together.     Geoff Bellman     Seattle     March 2001 INTRODUCTION You Are Not In Charge We succeed by helping others succeed; our accomplishment is dependent on theirs. In our more expansive moments, we might say that we make them successful. In their more generous moments, they might say that they couldn’t do it without us. We are often in-between, wondering how best to contribute and how much difference we make. Some of us get trapped “on hold,” waiting for the authority, waiting for others to tell us what to do. That does not work. Our only chance for contributing is to quit waiting and wondering and do something. We serve ourselves and others best when we do not wait. Initiate, with the organization and all involved people in mind. No, we are not in charge but we can act. No, we are not formally designated leaders, but we can lead. This book will help you think of yourself as a leader, as someone who helps an organization, its people, and resources move in new directions. Yes, right from where you are, not waiting until you’ve moved into a more powerful position. Whether you are an individual contributor, a middle manager, a school principal, or a precinct chair, there is much you can do from your position right there in the middle of things. Whether you are an entering programmer, a journeyman mechanic, a PTA parent, or a social worker, you can choose to lead others. And, the first step in leading others at work is leading your own life. The Illusion: Someone Is in Charge Many of us grew up with the expectation that someone will watch over us, take care of us, be “in charge,” “know best,” and that this will turn out okay. Our families, schools, communities, and organizations taught us to believe this, but their teachings began to fray pretty early, usually before we became adults. Our contradictory experience confused us; we saw people “in charge” producing very mixed results. The people in position to “do what’s best” disappointed us. Programs they created, decisions they made, did not turn out okay – at least not for us and what we wanted out of our lives. We discovered that they would not watch over us. An extremely hard part of this learning is not our disappointment in them but our struggles with our own responsibility: If they are not in charge, who is? If I cannot count on them, who can I count on? What is my responsibility in helping my family, my community, my employer, or this world? What can I, what will I, do with my life? These are the big questions lurking behind the work questions we struggle with daily. You may be thinking, “But someday I will be in charge of that committee (or agency or division or team) and I will Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/geoffrey-m-bellman-10731202/getting-things-done-when-you-are-not-in-charge/?lfrom=334617187) на ЛитРес. 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