Activity Circles…

I was back at work this week – on the US East Coast, attending meetings, meetings, engaging with great people in person, emailing, calling, texting. Coming back to work from vacation is never easy…but the only way to avoid that ‘challenge’ would be avoid vacations…

I always find myself looking for themes…consistent topics from several days of discussion; it’s one way I identify actions or opportunities. People are often a big theme. This week it was definitely true. Helping people, growing people, learning from people, being inspired by people, recruiting people and retaining people.

That people ‘leave their bosses’ is a common belief – as opposed to people leaving their roles or their companies. There are many surveys supporting this belief. I agree. And it seems most people I have ever asked do so as well.

Assuming this is true then…I wondered this week whether the opposite also applies? Do people stay with their bosses rather than their jobs? I haven’t seen surveys on that question, but it feels intuitively correct. Our direct bosses are incredibly important to and for us – they are our window into the organization and our representative of the organization. A good boss is priceless and has an amazing impact. A good boss invokes loyalty and commitment; derives passion and belief; inspires and excites. A poor boss isn’t…and doesn’t.

I was asked recently whether a particular opportunity would give me sufficient ‘intellectual stimulation’. I hadn’t even thought about the concept of intellectual stimulation let alone whether an opportunity would offer it. As a result I found myself thinking more about the question and the person who asked the question…than I was about the role itself. My conclusion? That there are all sorts of challenges in the work we do, but it’s the people we work with who provide intellectual stimulation.

This is certainly something I have always appreciated from my boss. Whether through challenge, encouragement or inspiration. A word here. A question there. A statement or proposition. An insight or observation.

I had dinner last week with a Best Friend at Work. We ended up talking about roles, opportunities and bosses we have had over the years. I recounted a story told to me by one of my bosses about why and how he – of all the individuals who applied for a specific new role – had been selected.

My boss considered himself a deep thinker. But after much analysis, he concluded…that he was lucky!

Lucky because two independent ‘activity circles’ had aligned. He submitted his application at exactly the moment…the moment the recruiter was considering that new role and what the right candidate would look like.

If these circles of activity had not overlapped then likely someone else would have been offered the role. If his application had arrived a month or two earlier, or if the recruiter had taken a month of two longer, then the circles would not have overlapped.

Needless to say these activity circles weren’t entirely based on luck. The individual had experience and qualifications. And he was applying to a company with a significant scientific operation. So yes it is true that we make our own luck, but there is also an element of chance involved.

My boss’s conclusion was that when any of us are looking for growth or opportunity or change then alignment of ‘activity circles’ is necessary to achieve the result or outcome we are after. But we can – and should – seek to do everything we can to influence.

Intellectual stimulation. The right story at the right time. Observation and insight; encouragement and inspiration.

We all want a boss to stay with.




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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