Written by Anthony Demangone
Last week, during vacation, a few family members asked me about my job. They recalled that I started in this position roughly a year ago.
"Are you glad you took the job?" someone asked.
Absolutely, I responded. The job is great, and I'm learning a ton.
It was a good question. Usually, when I say that I'm learning a ton, no one follows up. But count on family to make you think. So, what have I learned in my first year? Outside of the job-related skills, here's how I'd sum it up.
- Don't overreact. Living in D.C., you get good at noticing headline risk. For example, a Congressman may drop a bill to eliminate the Department of Education. While that sounds drastic, such bills have little chance of becoming law. But they make a nice headline. As my first year rolled along, events occurred that seemed either good or bad. Sometimes really good. And sometimes they seemed really bad. I have learned not to overreact to new developments. Rather, when a potential problem or opportunity occurs, I gather data and review it. I found that research and critical analysis tend to shrink many problems and windfalls.
- Do a background check. Organizations are funny things. We often do things, without knowing exactly why we do them. When I assumed the role of SVP-COO, Fred did a great job of telling me the history of this and that. Why we do this. And why we never do that. It was eye-opening. Now, every chance I get, I give as much background as I can. And I ask for background when I get assignments. When my colleagues know why something is being done, it really helps put things in perspective.
- Show me the money. There's no way to sugar-coat this. You have to understand how and when your organization makes and spends money. I have the honor of signing nearly every check that NAFCU cuts to a third party. And I say honor seriously. Because behind every check is an expense report or invoice. Digging into that kind of stuff helped me understand how money flows around here. And that has been invaluable.
- Beware of the boomerang. Part of me likes to boomerang projects - turning them around quickly. But there comes a risk with the boomerang-method. There were times when I completed a task quickly, but I missed an important error. You do have to give yourself time to read and think. If your workday is simply a series of boomerangs, strategic thought will be scarce and errors will be plentiful.
- Be cool, man. So much of our success is determined by how well we play in the sandbox. During the past 12 months, this has become so clear. Crystal clear. Employees that meet people half-way, have a positive attitude, and are generally nice to work with get so much more done. The more I can do to support those types of values, the better.
It has been a fun first year, and I appreciate you willing to join me on the ride. Have a wonderful 4th of July, folks.