All too often, running or managing an enterprise can be a lonely position.
Let me demonstrate this by means of a personal experience.
I was employed to perform a specific task. I was good at this task – I was actually very good at it. I redefined the role and made it mine. Unfortunately, whilst I was exceeding all expectations and powering ahead for the good of the organisation, I made myself indispensable. You would normally think that this is a good thing, however, let me reassure you, it is not.
By redefining the work and introducing new work practices, new IT systems, and generally streamlining the workflow, I started working well above my pay grade – I started to resent this, although it was a mistake of my own doing. Although I thought I was worth more to the organisation, more disappointing was the fact that I could not take any extended leave. There was literally no-one that could backfill my position, so holidays for many years tended to be the odd long weekend here and there. I became a leave liability.
Eventually I was able to move sideways into another position which then allowed the opportunity for someone green to move into my position. This new person worked well at picking up the duties, and although I was performing a different job, I was still able to mentor and consult on the old job. I recall telling my line manager that I have not been as productive in the previous three months as I had been for the previous three years – and this was based solely on the fact that I was able to collaborate with someone else.
So where am I going with this?
Although we may think we know it all, being able to consult with likeminded or like goaled people can significantly increase your own performance levels. It is not a question of releasing company confidential information, it is more a process of bouncing conceptual ideas on other people. Sure they may take something away from what you say, but it is a double edged sword – you will have the sounding board that you need and in turn you can be the sounding board for others. You have the opportunity to take just as much away from them as they can from you.
It is not difficult to find these types of people.
1. The most obvious one is the local area Chamber Of Commerce. This group usually represents a varied industry mix with a common geographical area. 2. Your vendors will frequently create user groups that will group similar businesses across a wide geographical area. 3. Industry associations or lobby groups will also bring together like-industry businesses from a wide geographical area with the aim of promoting the industry as a whole to the greater community. 4. Country trade organisations will work with businesses to promote across boarder or across country relationships.
These groups represent different end goals, but all offer similar consulting features. The more difficult decision that you need to make is if you join one, some, or all of them.