Thursday, July 29, 2010

The secret lives of camels... The "boondoogle"

Abu Dhabi Playlist: Winding Road – Bonnie Somerville, Waka Waka – Shakira, I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie, Gettin Over You - David Guetta Feat Chris Willis and Fergie, Still - Matt Nathanson, Honk Tonk Woman - Rolling Stones.

Press release was issued and now the world knows our company exists. I was reminded yesterday by my boss George this is the first time in history any company has attempted what we are attempting to do. Yes, there are new ventures starting all over the world everyday. But this would be the first time two companies join together, one from the U.S. and the other from the Gulf, to provide the service we intend to provide in the Gulf region. Our task is to take the skills and competencies we have and apply them to this new challenge. For me, this speech was empowering. Its not very often you get to be a part of something new.

I have been learning about the role that perception plays in the function of the company. Any one who has worked for a large multinational company has gone through their fair share of CEO fire drills. Without having all the information in hand, one executive causally mentions to another their perception of a certain topic or department, then all hell breaks loose. People scramble to show the work they've been doing. Sometimes the perception is correct and changes need to made. Other times they are not. What I have learned perception and expectations have to be managed through steady communication at all levels of the organization. This may be as simple as submitting a weekly report( which I hate) to you management regularly to having a powerpoint presentation stashed in a drawer just in case. The catch 22 is that those who are in the upper ranks of management tend to not want to be involved in the details and sometimes base their perception, not on data, but how they feel. Who knew that emotions had so much to do with business? If the decision makers don't "feel" good about the business, perception will be skewed. Our job is to educate them with just enough information so they understand things are being taken care of. Everyone has their own way of managing perception. Some take what I like to call the "Inshallah" approach. Their feeling is that they are doing what they can in their job and how they are perceived is out of their control. Others lean toward micromanagement and try to control as many details as they can in hopes their work will be perceived as exceptional. From my point of view, there needs to be a healthy balance between the two.

Back at headquarters in the States, rumors have been spreading that we have been spending company funds and that individuals on this project are basically on a boondoogle. I'm sure the story goes that most of our meeting are held pool side sipping pina coladas contemplating how we waste away more of the companies money while the real work is being done by folks back home. Oh if it were true. This perception has made its way of the executive food chain and generated concern. So now the NV is the ring ready for another fight.

In this instance, the perception isn't in line with reality. This place is a pressure cooker. We all are pushing to make sure this company successful. We understand there many opportunities to fail. The extra work is is obligatory. The phrase I hear often is do more with less. Those who come over believing the rumors, looking to get some sun and improve their golf game don't last long.

What I find interesting about writing about your life is the more you experiences you have, the more you want to write, and less time you have to write about it. I’ve had many experiences thus far that I wish I could capture, shrink them, throw them in a suitcase and keep them as little souvenirs. A side bar conversation, a piece of well meaning advice, a secret shared, every unique experience has its value. Not all of the experiences have been pleasant. In fact, as the pace of company quickens and the pressure to succeed mounts, the experiences I’ve been having recently feel more like surviving a fist fight than getting a hug. But even the tough days have a lesson at the end. I try to adhere to my two goals for taking this position: to learn as much as humanly possible and building relationships both personally and professionally. With persistence and humility in hand, I will forge on.

What I’m reading: “Don't They Know It's Friday? Cross-Cultural Considerations for Business and Life in the Gulf” - Jeremy Williams

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