Is The New Boss Going to Make a Good Partner?

This Revolutionary Assistant blog is all about being a good partner to your manager.  But, let’s face it, not every manager is going to be a great partner.  It’s not new news: there are managers out there who are really lousy bosses.Bad Boss

The primary reason that people leave their jobs is because they don’t like their managers, and if an assistant doesn’t like her manager, that can make for a very bad situation.  So, when you interview for a new position, how can you tell if you’re going to get along?

First things first: think about the type of manager you’d be most successful supporting.   Do you enjoy a manager that is very hands-on and guides you every step of the way, or do you want one that gives you a task and lets you figure out how to accomplish it?  Do you want a manager that advocates a flexible work schedule and understands the importance of work/life balance, or would you rather someone who is as Type A as you are?  Put some thought into the personality characteristics a manager might exhibit that would make you most happy, and the ones that would really get your dander up.

Then, off to the interview you go.  Here are some more things to look for:

Does this manager’s team get good results? – A team that’s disengaged from its manager doesn’t usually produce good results.  When it’s your turn to ask questions in the interview, make sure you cover things like, “What are the goals of the team?” and “Are you tracking to achieve those goals?”  If you find out that the team is way behind, that should be a red flag.  Managers who don’t have good teams won’t likely be good partners to their assistants, either.

Does this manager have integrity? – Chances are you won’t just be interviewed by the manager herself, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to some other people on the team.  When you do, try to get a feel for this manager’s integrity.  Does she care about the team?  Is she able to get them charged up about their mission, and do they want to do a good job for her?   Use indirect questions to figure out how the team feels about the manager, and do the same to find out how the manager feels about the team.

How’s this manager’s employee retention? – If employees are leaving this manager in droves, that’s a bad sign.  How can you tell if a manager has high turnover rates?  Well, for one, you can ask about the last person who held your position.  Did she leave the company, transfer to another department?  You can also ask questions about his team, what kind of positions make up that team, and what they do…and then use that information to look up his LinkedIn profile and the profile of those who seem to have worked for him.  Reach out to a couple of these folks and ask what it was like to work with this manager.

Does this manager have a singular focus…and it’s him? – If the manager talks about all the things that he’s accomplished, and where he’s going with his career, then he may not be too concerned about the careers and the happiness of his team.

Don’t ignore your gut feelings – You can get a bad feeling about a manager when she’s not engaging in dialogue with you, when she’s dodging questions, and so on.  If you get that foreboding feeling when you’re talking to a prospective new boss, pay attention to it!  These are warning signs.

When you’re an average working Joe, a bad manager can make for a very long work week, but when you’re a Revolutionary Assistant, it can be agony.  There are no guarantees that you’re going to get a great manager, but these hints can help you avoid some of a bad boss’ more obvious characteristics!

Next Post:  Wednesday, May 25

Are Administrative Assistants Becoming Obsolete?

The Revolutionary Assistant celebrates its fifth anniversary this month, and I looked around to find that I’m still championing the manager/assistant business partnership, and still asking that question: Are you Alfred, or are you Robin?  The reason why I continue to ask it is because the Alfred assistant is becoming obsolete.

Allow me to explain. I use DC Coretro worriedmic superhero Batman and his support system – butler Alfred and sidekick Robin – to explain the difference between someone who assists and someone who partners with their manager.  To recap our very first post, Alfred assists Batman by polishing the Batmobile and getting the Batsuit dry cleaned.  Robin partners with Batman by standing at his side, fighting the bad guys and providing solutions to the problems they encounter.  The assistant who’s more like Robin increases her manager’s reach.  The assistant who’s like Alfred…well, she’s eventually victim of a reduction in force.

A 2013 Oxford University study examined just how susceptible today’s jobs are to computerization, and they discovered that an astounding 47% of them are vulnerable.  So it stands to reason that assistants who concentrate only on getting the coffee and keeping the calendar up to date are in danger of being replaced by technology.

How do you take steps to ensure you don’t become obsolete?  Here are some hints!

Read this blog – We’ve spent the last five years talking about how to be a better partner to your manager.  Check out our videos and our reference section to answer specific questions…and have a good laugh!

Take the scary step – If you’re going to work every day and you’re not just a little bit scared, you’re not doing it right.  Learn something new, take on a new responsibility even if you have no idea how you’re going to do it.  Being a little scared is a good thing.  You’ll figure it out, you’ll learn, and you’ll become a more important cog in the organizational machinery.

Make your work important to others – If you’re not working for someone’s benefit (like your manager’s), then you might as well not be doing anything at all.  If your manager doesn’t find your work important, and his direct reports don’t either…reassess your situation and make a career move. They should feel like you’re making them bigger and better than they are alone.  You should feel fulfilled in making their lives better.  If those aspects of your service are not connecting, you either need to fix it or move on.

Find someone to challenge you – You know those people in the office, the ones who make your stretch your thinking to new levels.  Spend time with them, and force yourself to make new connections and be more accepting of new ideas.

Update your technology skills – I’m not talking about Microsoft Outlook here!  Don’t be the person that always has to ask for help plugging in the projector or getting the new software to work.  Be the person that gets asked.  Read up on available technology in computer periodicals and hang out with the young folks to see how they’re using their phone apps.

Get some business knowledge – I read the Harvard Business Review every month, because it helps me understand the challenges that my manager and my company face.  Social marketing and big data are not a part of my day-to-day work, but understanding trends helps me keep up with the conversation and offer viable solutions to problems we’re facing.  If you’re not into the Harvard Business Review, get a subscription to Fast Company, Inc., or Entrepreneur.  Or follow them on Twitter, and you’ll be able to read a lot of their articles for free.

It’s time for assistants to step up their game and go from ordinary to revolutionary, and from Alfred to Robin!  Don’t run the risk of technology taking over your job…use these steps to stay relevant (and employed!)


Next Post:  Wednesday, April 27

Just Because He’s the Boss Doesn’t Mean He Knows Everything

I was told in a meeting last week that I have a “God-given talent for telling senior leaders no and not sounding insubordinate.” The person who noted this said, “Please don’t change that. I often want to tell them no and end up asking them ‘how high?’”

I laughed. It’s actually a talent I developed early on in my administrative career when I realized that just because my manager was the top dog didn’t mean he knew everything. (Of course, don’t tell him that.)

My manager wanted me to manage him and manage the things I’d been put in charge of. Setting realistic expectations is part of that package.

Here’s an example: We were rolling out an Intranet/Sharepoint site to our office, and the site was far from done. The consultants helping us were not delivering on what needed to be accomplished, and several aspects of the home page did not function properly and/or did not look polished and professional.

Our senior leader, the chief operating officer, said, “It’s not supposed to be finished, it’s always going to be a work in progress, let’s roll with it.”

None of our team members were happy to hear this. We’d worked long and hard on this site and when we showed the rest of our company, we wanted it to work the way it should and be loved the way it should. So I spoke up and told our chief operating officer that we were not interested in rolling it out as is. I explained to him that, if we wanted adoption of the tool, it had to work correctly and not look like something a ten-year-old had put together. When the rest of my team nodded in agreement, he backed down, and the roll-out was postponed.

There was not another person in the room that would have told him that. If I hadn’t, we may have rolled it out prematurely and the tool might have failed.

As a Revolutionary Assistant, if you say the words, “It’s what the boss wants” or “as long as she’s happy that’s all that matters” then you’re not doing your job the way you should. I am in my position to make my manager more successful and more productive. That isn’t necessarily the same thing as “do it this way because the boss said so.” Your manager wants things done right, and if his wishes conflict with that goal, you need to be the one to step up and tell him.


Next Post:  Wednesday, January 20

Making Sure Your Manager Is Productive on the Road

In my time as a Revolutionary Assistant, I have sent my manager on some grueling trips. I remember one where he had to fly all over the west coast and lay off people who had been with the company three and four times as long as he had. It was a whirlwind trip that lasted only two days and left a trail of bodies, and that’s no one’s favorite thing to do.

So, how do you make something like that, or any other treadmill-like trip more productive for your manager? It’s not really about micromanaging the itinerary – your manager has gone to an airport take-away and gotten sushi without your direction in the past, and chances are it’s going to happen again – but really more about making sure he’s prepared and able to get the most done in the least amount of movement:Travel

Reserve travel, hotel and ground transportation with convenience in mind – My manager travels a lot, and he has his favorite hotels and restaurants in mind most of the time. But when that’s not the case, I get to work and discuss the best places to eat and spend the night with assistants at the companies my manager is visiting. It’s a great way to make connections and make sure your manager is only a few minutes from his meeting places. I also like to reserve in advance to save money!

Make sure your manager knows about – and knows how to use – the latest and greatest in smartphone apps – Travel is made easier by phone apps that can get you what you need when you need it. For instance, an app like Gate Guru or Flight Tracker provides flight information and terminal maps right at your fingertips, so you can hit a Starbucks or grab some aspirin in no time flat. New services like Uber provide quick rides, and the app Waze (which I just downloaded myself!) tells you how to avoid traffic based on the advice of thousands of other drivers on the road. Translation apps are available for people traveling in foreign countries, which is also very handy!

Capitalize on his flight time – If he’s in the air for a while, that’s a great time to get reading done, review reports, etc. I try to book flights where wi-fi is available, but if not, I create PDFs of documents he needs to review and add them to his tablet so he’s able to sift through paperwork without carrying a stack of items with him.

Ask if his devices are charged and business cards are packed – Or ask about anything else he might forget to do or pack. There’s nothing worse than running out to an Apple Store across town to purchase a new charger – it’s a time waster and a huge irritation. (But, here’s a helpful hint: Hotels find themselves with BOXES of chargers and power cords left behind by forgetful guests, so tell your manager to check the front desk first!)

Arrange for car service if he’s attending a convention or a trade show – I work in retail, and there’s no bigger nightmare than getting your manager from hotel to hotel when he’s at that ICSC show in Las Vegas each May. Those of you in the IT industry probably experience the same thing with the big Las Vegas show in the summer. It’s crazy! I like to arrange for car service wherever possible, because if my manager tries to catch a cab he’s going to be waiting for an hour and paying just as much money!

Plan for a nice reward after a busy day – I don’t know about your manager, but mine was likely to find a McDonald’s after a day at work. If he’s going to be alone at the end of the day, think about making a reservation at a nice restaurant or a late-afternoon massage appointment.

Of course, the best way to be productive is to not travel at all. If a video conference or Skype call will suffice for a face-to-face meeting, that’s going to be the best way to go! If your manager isn’t familiar with those kinds of tools, it’s time to show him right now!

Business travel is a test of mettle and determination most of the time, and a Revolutionary Assistant takes every step to minimize the effects of the demons on the road!

“Boss, I Totally Disagree With You.”

I am not a quiet person.

When I see someone going down an incorrect path, I will say something. That holds true if you’re my friend, a member of my family, and even my manager.

DisagreeI’ve recently not had such good luck trying to help my manager out by sharing my wealth of accumulated knowledge. In my twenty-five years of doing this assistant thing, I’ve picked up a few things along the way. Why wouldn’t I share with my current manager a trick that one of my former managers employed successfully?

Turns out, not everyone wants my opinion or thinks my idea is best. I’d like to say I’m okay with that, but I tend to argue my point until it’s completely understood. So, I went through my checklist on how to appropriately and respectfully disagree with my manager, just to make sure I was doing everything right:

Always show respect first – I definitely do this! My manager worked hard to get to his position, and I respect the road he has traveled to get there. It’s not hard for me to show that respect – I always feel it, and it comes out in all I do.

I work hard to earn my right to an opinion – I try to make good decisions in my position and apply the knowledge I’ve learned from my fabulous managers when working on behalf of my boss. So, hopefully, I’ve earned the respect of my manager, and that helps me share an opinion with him and be taken seriously. If necessary, I prepare a couple of examples of my former actions to support my delivery of this particular opinion. I show my manager that I’ve earned the right to disagree.

My ethics are sound – I don’t share shady opinions. I share good ones that don’t hurt people and are not against the law.

I share my opinion in private – The last thing I’d want to do is call out my manager (or anyone, for that matter) in a room full of people. That would be breaking my first rule of always showing respect first. I wait until we have time alone and then bring up my thoughts.

Always start on a positive note – I’m not talking about saying, “Hey, I love that tie you’re wearing.” That would make me look disingenuous. But if I’m sharing an opinion about a process or about a person on our team, I will always start out with what’s working about that arrangement before I launch into my thoughts for improvement.

I keep my eye on the benefits (and those should be for the company) – Anything that I’m suggesting should change should come with my thoughts as to how the company will benefit. Is it time saved for my manager or for the team? Is it going to eliminate anguish or change the morale of the group? Just like making a sale, I present my opinion (features!) and tell my manager why it will work (benefits!).

If you can, start out your manager/assistant relationship with the expectation that you have an opinion you’re willing to share – Once, when my favorite manager and mentor ever was about to part ways with me, I told him I didn’t think I could ever work with anyone as well as I worked with him. In his wise way, he told me, “You will do fine, so long as you have a manager that takes feedback.” And he’s absolutely right. I have since moved on from that company as well and I made that a part of my interview discussion with my new manager.

I followed all my rules on disagreeing with my manager and trying to get my point across. But, you know what? That doesn’t mean he’s going to agree with me or take my advice. And that’s okay. I will sit back and watch him make a decision that doesn’t seem right to me. And I will learn great things from that decision when it works. Or I will gain more respect from my manager when his idea doesn’t work as well as mine would have. Either way, it’s a win for me!

Next Post:  Wednesday, January 21

Managing Travel Costs

It’s never been cheap to travel, but it seems like nowadays we’re getting socked with resort fees and other little incidentals that we’ve never had to worry about before.  If you book a hotel room for $200 a night, is it really fair to have to budget for $300, just because you don’t know what kind of fees they’re going to hit you with?

Travel providers are champions of the practice of “drip pricing” – that is, disclosing only a portion of a price up front, and then revealing add-ons during the purchasing process.  Airlines have long been the champions of drip pricing, but hotels and even car rental companies are getting in on the act.

As the travel manager for my company, I’ve done a little research about how to save money on business travel.  I can tell you, most of the ideas I see in articles are unrealistic at best.  In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best you can do is be aware of these charges so you can plan accordingly, because there’s really nothing more that can be done.  Here are some common charges to plan for:

Baggage check fees – Unless you want to ship your luggage to your destination, you’re going to pay a fee to check your luggage with most airlines, probably to the tune of $25 each way.  Some airlines are still threatening to charge for carry-on bags as well, so watch out for that possibly coming down the pike!

Airline Taxes – I just flew overseas recently, and I was surprised to see that my $1200 airline ticket included $600 in federal taxes.  I thought, “It’s no wonder that airlines don’t make any money, they’re handing over most of my fare to the government!”  Booking sites like Travelocity and Expedia, as well as the business travel providers that you work with, are now required to disclose these fees, so they should no longer come as a surprise when booking.  Soon, they may have to disclose their baggage check fees and other incidental costs as well.  There’s a bill in Congress to that affect just waiting to be voted on.

Hotel Resort Fees and Other Charges – These fees are cropping up all over the place, even when the hotel you’re using doesn’t really qualify as a resort!  A recent article in Forbes even spoke about mandatory bellman tipping fees.  Watch when you book a hotel to make sure that you’re aware of all the fees you’ll be charged.  And don’t be afraid to challenge a fee you don’t think is right.  (Bellman fees?  Seriously!)

Car rental fees – Car rental companies are getting into the act, too.  They’ll charge fees for extra drivers (I make sure that we have a designated driver when we rent a car for a group), and they’ll charge additional fees if you’re picking up the car at the airport.  Of course, you can pick up the car at a city location to avoid airport fees, but then you’re likely to be subject to…

Taxi surcharges – Oh, yes, taxis are in on the act, too!  They’ll slap on charges for extra passengers, and sometimes even add on a little bit if you have luggage to deal with.  And if it’s not enough that your meter is ticking along while you’re sitting in rush hour traffic, some ground transportation services will add insult to injury by tacking on a little extra charge if you’re using them during rush hour.

So what’s a poor traveler to do?  Well, not much can be done when you’re sitting in the office and your manager is doing the traveling.  Sure, you can call the hotel after the fact and ask them to credit your boss’ bill for that stupid bellman tipping fee, but it’s more effective if your manager notices it on his bill and does the arguing at the hotel when he’s checking out.

Airline tickets are always cheaper during non-peak travel hours, so if you can talk your manager into flying at 6AM or midnight, that’s also a plus.  But who wants to do that?  It’s best just to be aware of the fees, to plan accordingly so that you’re aware of how much your manager’s trip will REALLY cost!

Next Post:  Wednesday, June 18

Dealing With Change in the Workplace

A fear of change certainly isn’t a new thing.  People will stay in jobs, stay with companies, stay in marriages…all because it’s familiar and they’ve invested time they don’t want to “throw to the curb.”  Sometimes that’s a good reason to resist change, but most of the time, it’s not.

Change has to happen in order to keep up with the times and keep things fresh.  Your business has to navigate change to stay competitive in today’s market.  So how do you help your employees understand that change is good – not something to be scared of?  We already talked about helping your manager understand the benefit of leveraging change agents, but there is more that can be done!

Your manager has a big job on his hands when he’s initiating change in his area, but here are a few things he can do to make sure that he’s successful (and that his people don’t freak out!).

Make sure everyone understands the need for change – If your team doesn’t understand that change is necessary, they won’t be behind it.  Ensure that your group understands that if you don’t make some changes, you won’t stay competitive or you won’t stay in business.

Assemble a team of people to lead the change – Like having “change agents” in your corner, you should have a team of people – including team leaders or even senior leadership – that helps put that change into motion.  Your team should represent all areas the change will touch.  If the change is company-wide that means you should have someone from every discipline from finance to distribution in the room.  If you know of someone who’s an agent of change, help your manager by suggesting that this person is added, even if he’s not a leader.

Communicate the change as a vision – A sentence or a even a slogan that sums up the goals of your change and the future vision of your area will do wonders for keeping people on track.  Communicate it often.  As a Revolutionary Assistant, you can help your manager by taking charge of these messages, the cadence with which they’re broadcast, etc.

Be compassionate – Your manager should understand that people have legitimate concerns and fears, and he or she should do everything possible to quell those concerns.  Not only is it the right thing to do from a human standpoint, but worry is unproductive and can get in the way of the project.

Remove obstacles – A manager clears the way for his team to get work done, and executing change is no exception to the rule.

Measure results – Your manager should have plans to collect and interpolate hard data in order to support the change initiative.  That data will go a long way toward continued buy-in from upper management and his team.  If hard data isn’t a part of the plan, encourage your manager to think a little harder about it!

Celebrate wins along the way – It’s better if you don’t just have the big goal in your sites.  Break the whole change project down into bite sized pieces, and celebrate when each one of them is complete.  That will increase your team’s buy in.

Bringing about change in your business can be easier than you thought, even if your culture is one that’s naturally resistant to change.  Give these hints a try and see if you and your manager can’t create something fabulous that helps your business grow and get to the next level.

Next Post:  Wednesday, May 14

Help Your Manager Stop Flying Around The Office Like A Maniac

There are never enough hours in a day to accomplish all we want to, and that’s especially true when you look at your manager’s list of tasks and try to fit every part of it into the day.  Sometimes, it just can’t happen.  Sometimes you have to prioritize and let some people down easy.

Even when you prune your list to the bare minimum, it still seems there aren’t enough hours in the work day to conquer it all.  After all, sometimes things HAVE to be done.  Your manager is needed in two places at once.  A presentation needs to be completed, an RFP filed with an organization your company really wants to do business with.  Time stops for no one.

Sometimes time management tips aren’t enough.  If you need time management magic, here are some suggestions you and your manager might want to put into action:

Take 20 minutes every morning to plan your day – Sit down with your manager and your morning coffee and figure out what you need to do and when.  Block your manager’s calendar, and dedicate the time blocked for the task to which it’s dedicated.

Don’t answer the phone or check your emails compulsively – Plan time for phone and email just like you would any other task, for both you and your manager.  Phone and emails compete for attention with important projects, and they have to be prioritized as well.  Unless you see someone very important pop up on your caller ID, let it go to voice mail.

Try establishing office hours for your staff and co-workers – Office hours, just like your professors had in college, are for planned interruptions.  It’s an hour or two of your manager’s time when people can file in without an appointment and start that conversation that’s going to take 20 minutes of his time.  This is a very successful habit I learned while I was at Google. Not only does it save your productivity time, it cuts down on other meetings your manager might be dragged into.  Give it a try!

Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your doorknob – If your manager is seen sitting “idle” he’s likely to be interrupted.  Let everyone know he’s  working on a project and need to focus.  They’ll understand, and maybe they’ll adopt the habit, too!

Build in margin time – If you build slack time into your manager’s calendar, you’ll have something to go to when that important meeting comes up.  It’s the breathing room he needs when meetings run over and unexpected issues rear their ugly heads.

Be the bulldog for meeting start and end times – Your manager might take an extra five minutes here or there to meet with someone, and it’s your job as the Revolutionary Assistant to make sure that meetings start and end on time.  When the first meeting of the day runs 65 minutes, the next meeting has to start five minutes late (and probably end five minutes late, too!)  Pretty soon, your manager’s stressed out and missing important face time with people on his calendar.  Nip the “running over” in the bud to keep the stress at a minimum.

Keep your time estimates accurate – I’m forever being told to put 30 minutes on the calendar so that my manager can meet with our investors.  Those meetings never run less than 45 minutes.  I will purposely not book anything for 60 minutes just to make sure that he has enough time to have the conversation he needs to have.  He underestimates that time, but I give him a much needed cushion.

If your manager is flying low in the office, these helpful hints might be just what he needs to come in for a stress-free landing and get some work done!

Next Post:  Wednesday, April 23

Following Your Boss to a New Job

We Revolutionary Assistants and our managers work like well-oiled cogs in a machine, and so when the boss decides to take a position with a different organization, we can find it very jarring and disruptive to our lives.  After all, breaking in a manager takes time, and once you learn her personality and habits you’re really clicking.  Building a new partnership with another manager sets you back and square one…and then it might not even be successful.

What makes you feel better?  Those words, “I’d like you to come with me.”

Yay!  You think your manager is great and want the partnership to continue.  It seems like a no-brainer.  But is a move to a new company really the right one for you and your career?  Here’s some good advice to follow:

Check out your manager’s new company thoroughly – Find out everything you can about the new company.  Is it a start-up with great potential or a solid company that’s been in business for fifty years?  Start-ups are great if you’re a risk-taker, but if you appreciate financial security, this might not be the right move.  Ask yourself if you’d consider a position with this company if your manager weren’t moving there.

Talk with people who work at your manager’s new company – Discover what you can about the culture and atmosphere.  Does it match your work style?  Perhaps they’re all in the office at dawn-thirty and don’t leave until midnight each day.  Or maybe they don’t advocate the same kind of flexible schedules you currently have. Whatever their culture, make sure that it fits well with your habits and the other expectations you need to meet in your life.

Make sure your manager is leaving for the right reasons – Usually we Revolutionary Assistants have a handle on who’s worth their salt in the office, but make sure your manager isn’t on the verge of being laid off or fired, or is just leaving for the wrong reasons.  Following your manager to a new company means being tied to his reputation.  You don’t want to put yourself in a position to be dragged down.

If you do move with your manager, make lots of new friends – People who are hired as a team can easily be fired as a team, so make sure you establish a new network quickly.  Being well-liked, helpful and otherwise indispensible can help you keep your position even if your manager is let go.

Are you deviating from your career goals? – If your manager is moving into a different position, you need to consider if the work you’ll be doing is beneficial to your long term goals.  Will you learn new skills in this position, or will you be stepping back to a level you haven’t seen in a few years?

How long does your manager intend to stay with this new company? – Is this just a two-year stop on his career trajectory?  If his potential won’t be filled in this new position and he just moves on again in a couple years, you’ll be uprooted again or left to navigate this new place of employment on your own.

It’s such a nice feeling when your manager asks you to follow her to a new company.  And if your relationship is good – and the stars are all aligned for you – you should definitely make the move.  After all, good partnerships are hard to find!

Next post:  Wednesday, April 2

Are You An Agent of Change?

An agent of change – doesn’t that sound like an exciting thing to be?  I want to be an agent of change.  I could wear a suit with a cape, have cool gadgets that help me see through walls and make the copier run faster.  Then, in real life, just a mild-mannered assistant…

No, wait.  Maybe I’m thinking I want to be one of the Agents of SHIELD.  An agent of change doesn’t fight crime, he exerts an influence over the others in his organization that aids in the transformation and change from point A to point B.  People naturally resist change, even when it’s the best thing for the company, and that’s when an agent of change is particularly important.  He or she smoothes that path to change, and makes it palatable for the masses to accept.

So what makes a successful agent of change?  In the Harvard Business Review article, “The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents,” authors Julie Battilana and Tiziana Casciaro discovered that truly successful change agents

Were central to the organization’s informal network – Someone who might be lower on the totem pole in the formal hierarchy of the company might still be at an advantage to be an agent of change.  If people look to an individual for advice and think highly of him, that person could be an agent of change even if he’s just a front line worker.

Bridged disconnected groups – Perhaps the people in your finance area don’t hang out too often with the people in your operations area.  But successful agents of change bridge those groups.  He might be having lunch with the comptroller one day, and a field leader the next.  This person is in a good position to move change forward, because multiple departments look to him and he can influence these areas where other people may not be able to.

Had social networks that matched the change being pushed through – An agent of change whose network spans finance and operations is the perfect person to tap if the change taking place most affects those two groups.

Are close to “fence-sitters” that are ambivalent about change – The authors’ research indicated that this was beneficial but at times a “double-edged” sword, as often minor changes could be executed with the help of these fence-sitters, but not major ones.

Change can’t be done right unless it’s done through the social as well as the hierarchal network.  Perhaps you are the agent of change that pushes an initiative through the social network.  But perhaps you’re not that person, and when that’s the case, can you help your manager identify who is that social caped crusader?  Absolutely!  As a Revolutionary Assistant, you’re sometimes more “socially accessible” than your manager, and you see your coworkers differently than your manager does.  Use that to your manager’s advantage and increase your value as a partner by stepping in to help!

Next Post:  Wednesday, March 5