It was back in the 1980s when a dog-eat-dog attitude was valued at work. The key for people was to be better and more successful than anyone else and at whatever cost. There was nothing to be gained by working in a team this was the era of working hard and playing hard. It was about making money, more money than your neighbour and having more things.
When I first started work as a newspaper journalist in the early 1990s that sort of approach to work was what mattered. If you are working day after day in such an environment then it can really have an impact and shape you and your outlook on life. I have always been quite an ambitious person so this led to me being very single-minded about things. I was focused on results and getting where I wanted to be. I had no consideration for people and recognising how my behaviour impacted on them, it was of no consequence.
Now I am in a position where I can reflect on my early years and what has changed. Changed around me but also how I may have changed. I reached my goal to be the head of a communications department but at what cost? Ok so I can’t go back and rewrite any of the wrongs that I may have done in the past. What I can do is recognise that you only get the best from your team when they have the ability to be creative, feel supported and are trusted to do their job. They will do it their way and I have accepted in recent years that even though it is different to the way I may do it that isn’t a bad thing. My role has to be about being supportive particularly if things are going wrong, but also to help people to be motivated to do their best. I don’t get things right all the time because like everyone I am constantly learning.
The other key thing now is to be able to use the position I have to help other people. I was really interested to hear about how universities are putting mentoring programmes in place for underprivileged students. The aim is to help them network and learn so hopefully they will be in a better position to find a job when they graduate. It is a great idea and a real way that people who are working in different professions can support the new generation. I have been hugely impressed by the social media apprentices of the Juice Academy in Manchester and am privileged to be involved with them. So, I am now thinking that I might be able to support communication students from challenging backgrounds. The only thing I need to do is find a university operating that sort of programme.
It is all a long way from the dog-eat-dog 1980s of my formative years but that is definitely a good thing. I wonder how many other senior professionals particularly in communication roles are providing that sort of mentoring and support. Perhaps we can all take stock and do a bit more to help those around us.