Who sits on your table?

Guest Column: Harit Nagpal, MD & CEO at Tata Sky Ltd, writes why engaging with colleagues, a couple of levels away from you, can surprise you

e4m by Harit Nagpal
Updated: Dec 15, 2020 4:42 PM
harit Nagpal

You have an annual event at work and the team has put together a fun evening. 

The Guest of Honor, someone senior from Head Office, who you’ve heard on video and seen in pictures, but never met, arrives. Your boss goes to receive him and escorts him to his designated seat. The entertainment commences and ends. It is time for dinner and everyone moves towards the tables for a sit down meal.

Who else sits on the table designated for the Guest of Honor?

Is that even a question? Obviously, the Guest of Honor, would sit with the head of the place where the event is being held along with a couple of senior colleagues from the local and the head offices.

They meet often, in person or online, and share a common agenda. This is another opportunity for them to catch up on issues they’d have missed out on, informally. Even the protocol suggests that.

What if the Guest of Honor were to break protocol and skip a level or two while choosing his dinner companions? Would it make a difference?

Yes! At more levels than one.

The Guest of Honor, if he is a dictator, probably spends most of his day in an echo chamber with his team, telling them what to do or listening to what he wants to. If he’s not a dictator, there is a possibility that he’ll get to hear some fresh thoughts, only sometimes, because most teams are conditioned to being led by dictators. 

Skipping a level or two could bring him face to face with people who convert his thoughts into reality, people who work longer hours than he does, people who’ve met more partners and customers than the meals he has had. 

He is in a senior position not entirely due to his degree or pedigree. He’s there because he has better ability to observe and process customer needs and can think of solutions on the fly. 

Listening to customer facing folks, first-hand, could improve the quality of data he works with and help sharpen his focus.

The skip level colleagues he interacts with, would get a first-hand exposure to the values and culture of the organization, leading to better alignment, productivity and retention.

The Dinner Table and the annual event were just metaphors. The thought applies equally to the team meetings we have, every day.

Try engaging with colleagues, a couple of levels away from you. Not just for business but socially too. You’ll be surprised!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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