In-house Issues: In-house In Context Part 1

Every action you take where you work, no matter how big or small, occurs within the larger context of your team, your corporation and society. By remaining aware of this important fact, you position yourself to make decisions that are in keeping with your, your company’s and society’s best interests. But also be aware that there will be conflicting priorities that only you will be in a position to resolve.

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On a local level, you should always advocate for what’s best for you and your team in the way of salaries, corporate policies, physical environment, infrastructure, training etc. This will probably put you at odds with Human Resources, Facilities, Procurement and IT. I often jokingly remark that there are two things you need to know about HR – they’re not human and they’re not a resource. While this is a snarky exaggeration, it does underscore the fact that within the context of HR and the other departments you work with, the needs of you and your group may be at odds with their mandates.

It’s HR’s priority to mitigate risk, keep all the troops happy, avoid the appearance of favoritism and enforce the corporation’s definition of parity. This may mean objections to comp days for late nights working on rush projects, salaries that are aligned with those of our profession at large, performance reviews that are reflective of our roles and responsibilities and requests for relevant training.

IT will probably push back on requests for additional bandwidth, upgraded storage capacity, open internet access and support of the Apple platform because the rest of the company doesn’t need it and it’s inefficient for them to provide it to only one department.

Facilities will balk at your request for an open studio environment and force you into cubes with the same rationale as IT. Finally, Procurement will remain resolute in their opposition to breaking the three vendor policy in spite of the fact that you need a variety of talent to address the variety of your project needs.

In response to these challenges, you have an opportunity to expand the context of your requests beyond these individual departments and into the realm of the entire corporation. If bending the individual departmental policies allows you and your team to more efficiently create higher quality deliverables that will positively impact your company’s bottom line, then you have an obligation to articulate that fact and fight for your requests. Your needs and the resulting benefit to the company trump any single department’s mandate.

Next week I’ll discuss the need for you and your team to understand how your work fits into the larger context of the goals of your clients and company.

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