Doors open and a new VP of Product joins three of us in the elevator.
“Hey, how are you?” I greeted him. “Do you know X and Y? X is the person who makes sure your product is categorized accurately in the database, so that the reorder algorhythms work accurately. Y is the person who makes sure your customers can find your product on the shelf.”
New VP shakes hands.
“I’m glad I ran into you,” I said. “I’ve been visiting the distribution center with other product VPs to look at how their product is staged for the holidays, and make sure their products are set up for success when they reach the market. I’d love to do a similar trip with you.” Cold silence. “…Uh, unless you’ve already been out to the DC to meet the folks there and get set up for holiday.”
“I don’t need to go to the distribution center,” the new VP replied as the doors opened again. “The only person I really need to know here to succeed is my boss.” The doors closed behind him.
The other two directors and I exchanged glances and shook our heads. One of us held up 2 fingers and the other two smiled.
People like that VP tended to last two years in the organization, at most. They thought they could come in, demonstrate expertise, and be successful.
They learned they were wrong.
Some organizations are social organizations. To succeed in these organizations, you have to understand and leverage the networks that bind people together and get work done.
That means meeting people at all levels, listening more than you speak, asking the right questions to understand what makes them tick and what worries them at night.
It means taking the time to understand how their goals align with yours, and what you can do to work better together.
And then introducing your ideas in that context.
This VP’s shocking response was an obvious tell. But those of us who had been around for a while could size up new people and quickly tag those who would last less than two years.
They were each their own silo.