About 14 years ago, there was a pivotal moment that started my journey to being a change practitioner. And I could have easily missed it.
At the time, I was the industrial engineering manager for a manufacturing company. No stranger to implementing change, especially process improvements, I was in the middle of a part-time MBA program in Leadership and Change Management. I was starting to realize I wanted to move my career in that direction, and to have an impact at a higher level in the organization. While my boss thought what I was learning was interesting, it didn’t go much further than our conversations.
And then it happened.
During one of our monthly employee luncheons, at the end of his usual business updates, the CEO invited anyone who had questions or ideas to set up a meeting with him to discuss it.
It’s possible that he said that every month. But this time I heard it. Part of me thought it might be lip service. But I figured since he said it out loud, even if he didn’t mean it, he would have to follow through. I decided to take him up on it.
I was hesitant. Until then, the CEO and I had been in some of the same meetings together, and I had answered some of his questions about budgets and such, but we hadn’t had a one-on-one conversation.
When I set up the meeting, he probably expected me to air my grievances. Instead, I asked him about the company’s strategy, and shared some ideas I had learned in school that would improve organizational effectiveness. The CEO invited me to come back the following month to talk some more.
Without really meaning to, I parlayed that one conversation into a monthly meeting. Then, like dominoes, I offered to conduct an employee survey, presented the results to the executive team, then facilitated that team in strategy development sessions, which resulted in strategic initiatives that I helped implement. Within a year, I became the Director of Organizational Effectiveness, a job which hadn’t existed at the company before.
All because the CEO had unknowingly opened the door, and I decided to walk through it.
I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out.
What door has been opened for you? Time to see what’s on the other side.