Acute awareness of anything is not always a good thing. For most people it brings clarity in a confusing situation, lets you see something that you didn’t realize before, or lets you empathize with someone else to help them through something. In my case though, I’ve become acutely aware of the fact that even after 7 months at my current job, I still feel like an outsider. Nothing specific that makes me feel this way, just little hints that I’m still not one of the crowd or a trusted member of the company fold. Sure, everyone is courteous and friendly and will often engage in conversation at the drop of a dime. Free coffee here is our “water cooler” and conversations at the coffee pot are an hourly occurrence if you’re inclined to participate.
My introverted nature I’m sure doesn’t help this feeling though. In fact, I’m almost sure its detrimental to me in situations like this one where I’m the “new guy” in a group where the average tenure of an employee is well over 12 years. I work with people that in some cases were hired by the current CEO, not many people can say that at a company that exceeds a few hundred people, let alone a company that is pushing 5,000 employees. I’m 7 months in and still feel that I’m navigating the political waters of how management operates. The learning curve here is mighty steep and has proved to be a difficult journey to say the least.
Having to adapt to a corporate environment here, if you can call it that, has been daunting after having worked in what I consider normal environments for the better part of 18 years. There are so many levels that you have to fight with to get anything done and partnering that with an ever changing focus and direction makes it all but impossible unless you know people. That’s where my issues comes into full focus, I just don’t know the people I need to in order to get certain projects completed. I’m viewed as an outsider with my crazy notions of how something should be done and asking questions as to why it isn’t. My radar doesn’t quite tune to the “I built this process you’re shooting holes in” negative attitude that normally greets me during some conversations.
There is a very real sense that work is done to propel a career or protect a legacy of “it’s always been done like this” that, if changed, requires people to learn something new. I’ve found through experience that changing a routine in a corporate office is probably the hardest thing you can do as complacency takes root and is as hard to remove as a weed with a 2 foot long root into the ground. All of this struggle adds to my awareness that I’m an outsider and until I yield to the status quo, I will continue to be an outsider.
I’m not sure that my future with this company is going to be along one. I keep pushing forward handling obstacles as they come, but my energy and motivation are taking huge hits while doing it. My only hope at this point is that the retirement train keeps moving ahead and some of the crusty bits go away. My dealings with other “new people” (essentially 5 years or less with the company) have been positive. If some of those people can get their way into the vacated positions, I think I might have a chance to make a real difference. Until that happens though, I have to struggle to get anything done as the “outsider”.
The summer is going to be interesting….