October 20, 2013
Are you a gatekeeper for your company?
No matter what your title is, if you're a gatekeeper you know who you are: You're the go-to person. If anyone wants access to company resources, they need to go through you. You're busy solving problems, managing people, herding cats, putting out fires, and leaping tall buildings in a single bound. You may not always be the final decider, but you certainly are highly influential in informing those decisions.
In one capacity or another, I have found myself acting in a gatekeeping capacity through positions in Human Resources and Operations in the non-profit, public and private sectors. I learned quickly that the challenges and issues faced by those in management and administration are fundamentally the same across all three sectors.
What do they all have in common? People. We need humans in most cases to get work done, and humans function (or dysfunction) in similar ways. While completing my master's internship, I received a sage bit of wisdom which I never forgot from my then-supervisor, Eric, who is now a successful municipal administrator. To help me get the most out of my degree, he said:
"Don't expect to learn how to do everyone else's job. Instead, you need to learn enough to know when you see a job done well, and learn to know when someone is trying to BS you."
Yep, BS. Or, depending on the context, BS can also be identified as Marketing, Sales, Recruitment, Policy Enforcement and Customer Service. It's the fine art of BS that makes the world go 'round. As a gatekeeper, success may reside in your ability to recognize BS in its various forms and either stop it in its tracks, or hone it to make it work for you.
My motivation to create my consultancy service was based on helping to develop gatekeepers to increase their capacity to do just that.
Rather than fostering dependency on my services, a successful outcome for my clients will often result in the acquisition and application of skills which will ultimately reduce and even eliminate the need for a consultant. And yes, that includes me, too.
The biggest barrier for many gatekeepers is knowledge and confidence. We avoid what we don't enjoy or feel confident doing. And then we still get stuck having to deal with it anyway.
The next posts will be dedicated to BS in the following forms, and how you as a gatekeeper can empower yourself to identify and use it productively:
1. HANDLING AND VETTING VENDORS & SERVICES.
Vendors and sales people do their best to make their service or product seem like something you can't live without - although they do not always do their best to help you understand exactly what their product or service is or does, or how it works. If you feel a bit like a deer in headlights when these folks come around, never fear - you're not alone. The next post will be dedicated to strategies for cranking up your BS detector and making vendors and sales people (particularly tech-related and internet-based service vendors) work hard to earn your business and deliver tangible results.
2. RECRUITING & HIRING: Most professionals (including HR folks) would often rather be doing just about anything else than hire new staff. No matter what type of position you are hiring for, there are ways to effectively vet candidates to find the right fit for your team. This post will focus on where, when and how to advertise and promote your open position, how to scan and sort resumes and CV's to look for a desired skill set, and how to legally and accurately sort out viable candidates from professional interviewers.
3. POLICY ENFORCEMENT & DISCIPLINE: If you have a full HR staff in your company, fantastic! However, unless you have a responsive, knowledgable, hands-on HR expert, you are probably either dealing directly with employee issues yourself. Either way, you're an essential part of the evaluation and communication process when it comes to addressing employee performance issues. Ultimately, your HR person or department can guide and recommend and even implement disciplinary action, but you or your managers are left holding the bag once the dust settles. Then what? Are you reading this section and think that suddenly sorting through resumes sounds like fun compared to this? This post will be focused on how to recognize problem behavior, and the fundamentals for taking action to address it proactively before it gets to the point where you need to bring in HR, or when you may need to engage in "addition by subtraction."
Stay tuned for future posts on these topics -comments and questions are most welcome! Have a specific question? Chances are lots of people have that question too. Email me and your question may appear in future posts!