As I set up my new office at Drake, I'm hanging some pictures and shelves to give it a little "homier" feel. Of course, hanging anything with some weight to it on a wall requires that I find the studs behind the wall to ensure that it stays secure and doesn't wind up crashing to the floor. To accomplish this feat, I've used a stud finder to locate the vertical beams hidden behind the sterile white drywall. Sometimes, it's important to find the support that is hidden to the naked eye.
That applies in our professional lives also, doesn't it? I once had a student ask me who the most important people were to "suck up to" in the office to get ahead. I'm sure he was wondering if he should brown-nose the CFO or the CIO before tackling the CEO. My answer left him sitting there with his jaw open and utterly speechless (I love it when that happens). If you feel compelled to suck up to anyone in the office, use your "professional stud finder" to locate the hidden support that will keep you from crashing to the ground:
- Secretaries, Administrative Assistants, and Executive Assistants - these people should be at the top of your list. They are the gate-keepers for the individuals who can make or break your projects, your accomplishments, and your career. You may have the best ideas, the best clothes, the best concepts, and the fattest paycheck, but if you anger an administrative professional, you do so at your own risk. My cousin is an executive assistant, and I'm sure she's a darn good one (imagine a brick wall mixed with a bulldozer with pitbull on the side, all covered with a demure nature and a sweet smile and you have an idea how effective she is at protecting her boss... I can say this about her... we've known each other for decades). This post pretty much drives the point home.
- Tech Support and Help Desk - you needn't suck up to each and every person, but make nice with a few critical people who are influencers of workload and quality in this department. When you have a problem with your computer, phone, or PDA, it helps to have one or two "go to people" who can get you turned around quickly. When I'm at a new client, I make sure I'm really nice to this crowd, and it has always served me well.
- Custodial and Security Staff - I think I may have told this story before, but once I was on a very highly political project which required long hours late into the night. One of the custodial staff who came through around 10:00 each night loved to whistle. I could have let it annoy me, but instead I started whistling along with him - very nice harmony, I might add. By the way, did I mention that custodial staff sometimes go through your garbage when they empty it? You'd be surprised some of the pieces of information that landed on my desk that helped me out. Custodians and security guards know a lot more about what is going on than you might now.
These people are the studs of Carpe Factum, the often hidden supports that hold everything else up. If you can use your intuitive stud finder to locate them, you'll be surprised how much you can accomplish.