What Difficult Challenges Do You Remember

I thought I would share something that was asked the other day by someone. Since I have been managing for quite sometime – I was asked what were the difficult challenges that I remembered facing and how did I deal with them.  I look at this as a very small list, but an important one.

·         Unfamiliar responsibilities: When I first was made a supervisor – I was lucky enough to be in the same area that I was familiar with. The only focus that I had to do was now leading a different shift.  All of a sudden you are put into unfamiliar situations and responsibilities – and in my case there was no manual or mentor to help me. I was put on graveyard shift the very first day of becoming a supervisor – with no other supervisor around (in the good old days – we had one supervisor for the complete off-shift areas). It was OJT at its finest. I tried to think back to the people that I have worked for – taking the best and making sure to not follow the worst in them.

·         Creating change:  That first role change and other different department changes to follow for me – taught me that I have to put my stamp on how I would like things to go. I would first spend time observing, listening and then decide what is best. I think when you lead change, you learn to operate in ambiguous situations, think strategically, make tough decisions and persevere in the face of adversity. 

·         Significant accountabilities: My first role as graveyard supervisor for Sort, Test, BI and Finish – Graveyard was the main shift that had the most equipment time for test. In those days – if graveyard shift did not deliver – then we missed our schedules. Now that is pressure and a challenge.  By expanding your role in terms of scope, scale, time pressure and accountability, you learn what it takes to be decisive, to work and learn at a fast pace and to have significant impact.

·         Managing across boundaries: Over the years, my scope has changed and this one plays a huge part in success or failure. Assignments that require you to collaborate across functions and business units or to work with people over whom you have no authority will strengthen your ability to influence others.  I still put this as area for me to focus on – in cases where I have strong relationships – this is not that difficult to accomplish. It all comes down to building that relationship of trust and respect.

·         Dealing with diversity. By working with people of another culture, gender or background, you will be better prepared to adapt to different expectations and persuade people of different backgrounds to work together.  When I was moved from the off-shifts to day shift, I was given the opportunity to lead transfer for products to the offshore sites. I was exposed to this quickly. I really like to learn about difficult cultures and so I took on learning as much as I could by reading, talking to our vast diverse cultures at Intel and taking some classes.

 What helped me more than anything in every situation – is that I did not let FEAR get in my way. Every situation is set with some type of fear – worrying about something that you can or can not control, of failure – whatever. Early in my career, maybe I was a bit naïve. Now that I am around a lot longer – I am aware of the fear (in myself and others).  Recognize the fear in yourself and set forth your game plan.