Perspectives From The Outhouse

by: Rene van Diepen

What did you do on your summer vacation?  Me, I built an outhouse at my cottage. Just me, my hammer, the dog and a few million mosquitoes for company.  Plenty of time to think about new beginnings – like my new position at Stratford Managers.

When starting a new job you are turning over a new leaf, meeting new people and working with new clients.  Although much of the first few weeks may also be spent familiarizing yourself with the office culture, your colleagues, and trivial stuff like where the office “outhouse” is, this time is particularly important for another reason:  perspective.

During your first two or three months, when you haven’t yet contributed in a material way to the strategies of the company and you’re not fully invested in corporate processes, you’re able to be objective.  Like a new customer visiting the website or listening to a sales pitch, you too are seeing everything for the first time. You bring a fresh perspective that your longer-term colleagues have lost.  Be sure to use this time to ask questions and make observations:  Why this way?  Have you thought about this approach? What if we look at things a different way?

Of course you don’t want to be the proverbial bull in the china shop (or the wasp in the water closet).  You may not be privy to all the reasons why things are the way they are.  But since you haven’t yet succumbed to “the way we do things around here”, don’t be timid!  The company leaders didn’t bring you on board to quietly blend into the background.  An article in the September issue of Inc. Magazine discussed the single best question that leaders should ask to become smarter:  What are we learning? Assume that the leaders that hired you into the company want to learn from you.

The opportunity to ask the questions that make us smarter reappears every time a new employee joins the organization.  If you are older and follicle-y challenged like me, those new employees are likely to be younger and more in touch with up-and-coming markets and decision-makers.  The perspective that new young employees bring is not only fresh – it’s also the future that your company needs to understand.

While the callouses and mosquito bites from my summer occupation are long gone I’m still doing my best as a new employee to help advance my company.  Being the new guy isn’t always easy.  You sometimes don’t have the best seat in the office.  But this seat does give you a unique viewpoint on the organization that can help make it better.  All you need to do is raise your voice a bit to be heard from the backhouse!

** with this post we welcome Rene van Diepen to Stratford Managers as VP and Practice Lead, Consulting Services

  • Categories