I remember sitting in a senior managers meeting getting all stressed out worrying about sales performance – the trend, annualised was worth a fortune to the company but I seemed to be the only one at the meeting getting all worked up!
Why was no one else getting as bothered as I was? They all seemed to be focused on some other issue that just didn’t seem as important to me. Let’s arrange a meeting to discuss this before our next meeting .. Oh my God!
This was Guinness, this was big business and it was management at the very highest level where the stakes were huge – what was I missing?
I had joined from a subsidiary company of Guinness in Cork called Deasy’s – we manufactured our own (quite profitable) soft drinks and distributed beer and soft drinks from the major manufacturers including Guinness. I had moved from the role of Financial Controller to General Manager, I had a lot of autonomy and now I found myself working in St.James Gate for Guinness as part of a large team.
My practical, work hard, do the (what I thought was) right thing, straight forward, no nonsense approach just didn’t seem to be cutting it at this level – in truth, I was struggling and getting very frustrated. I was starting to learn about the concept of meetings about meetings about meetings for the first time and it was driving me bonkers!!
The other thing I started to learn about was life in a large organisation and corporate “politics” and how these high stake personal power games were played out – as I said I was struggling with my very limited tool kit. At this stage in my career I needed to learn other skills to survive and thrive.
One of my big questions was how could these huge organisations succeed with such high stakes where potentially destructive personal politics could dominate and interfere with good constructive, positive work on an ongoing basis?
After three years of working with Guinness I figured out that “Success” happens in big organisations when “agendas” align.
A Senior Manager has a list of items that if he or she achieves them they will make them look good and advance their “personal” journey in the organisation. The Business has a list of items that are a priority and if these are achieved it will be successful. When the managers list and the business list align you get magic and progress is made – often this may not happen enough!
For a long time I thought that a corporate career was for me – I discovered I was wrong! Guinness was a great place to work, I made great friends in my time there, I learnt a huge amount but ultimately meetings about meetings was not for me ..