Work Anniversaries and Why I’m Celebrating Mine

By Michael Khan
Vice President of Sales
November 26, 2019
Work Anniversaries and Why I’m Celebrating Mine main image

Why do we celebrate anniversaries? And why does your spouse get so upset when you forget one? Permit me to opine. It’s a moment of reflection, looking back at a snapshot in time to reconcile what we’ve gained, what we’ve lost, and which of our aspirations we’ve achieved. Work anniversaries are no different and if you have a LinkedIn account, you’ll know that celebrating the anniversaries of those you are connected to has become so prevalent in your daily notifications that they’ve automated your acknowledgements by offering pre-set commendations like “Wow!”, “Congrats Mike”, “Kudos to you” and my personal favourite “Happy work-iversary!”

Much like a first birthday, first marriage anniversary, or even the first anniversary since you quit smoking, the end of your first year in a new job is the closest anniversary to that moment in time when your life changed. So just 12 quick months after I took on the role of Vice President of Sales at TSL in November 2018, I can still vividly recall the mixed emotions I was experiencing.

There was mourning for the company and friendships I would be leaving but also great excitement for the new relationships I would forge. If I were to be honest, there was certainly some anxiety and self-doubt regarding my ability to fulfil all the promises I made to those who hired me. A better-informed colleague identified this as “Imposter Syndrome” and while I appreciated the insight, I swiftly removed myself from any possibility of being psycho-analysed by a co-worker.

I truly enjoy learning and new circumstances almost always require a system update for the brain. But the breadth of solutions that TSL offers was disorienting in beginning, even though I had been in ICT sales for almost 15 years. However, elation quickly supressed everything else when I met my new (and some familiar) colleagues.

Now on the inside, I was reminded of why I joined TSL. Firstly, our newly appointed CEO had made a commitment that he wanted to foster an environment where family preceded work in personal priorities. This is probably what hooked me because my occupational responsibilities had been tipping the work-life balance I owed my family in my previous roles. Secondly, I have been given the opportunity to be part of a wave of change as the company celebrates its 40th anniversary, a new CEO, and our continuous effort to re-invent and diversify what we mean to our partners, customers, and community.

Coming into the role I had some preconceived notions of the things I wanted to address. For some of my peers, there was a desire to apply the changes like one would tear a band aid off an overreacting toddler’s knee. Change management professionals often cite Peter Drucker for saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and to a certain extent, it’s true. My inference from that statement, is that you cannot act without understanding the ethos of those who work around you otherwise you risk resistance to the change you would like to affect. So instead, I took the time to learn about my colleagues, what motivated them, and what they thought was at the root of some of our issues. I’m glad I chose a more judicious path to change because in the process, I learnt that there were many things that we were already doing well.

As often as possible, I’ve viewed any of the challenges faced in the past year as an opportunity for growth and creativity. It’s natural to contrast a new environment with a more familiar setting because that’s our context. But in a new organization, availability of resources and difference of culture force you to address common challenges in new ways. We still have many challenges ahead of us that will require a revision of our strategies, but for a company that has endured for 40 years in an industry notorious for pace of change, I think we have a great start.

So what’s changed in the last twelve months? Well I don’t feel like I’ve done enough; and that’s a good thing because the alternative might be complacence. I don’t anticipate that our industry will ever allow us to say “that’s about all we can do”. And you may take for granted that a technology company would have all the bells and whistles at their disposal, but we face the same financial and operational constraints that all businesses face. Which means we’ve had to balance and prioritize budgets to adopt processes and strategies that would enhance the great foundation that I inherited. On the upside, some of the changes didn’t cost a thing, like re-tooling our approach to customers, covering our bases better in client organizations, and making better use of systems that we already had.

So let’s talk about what I think I can do better. I have at times been referred to as the “Vice President of Meetings” which may be indicative of the time I spend at conference tables. Not sure how I’ll avoid that but I’m hopeful I can get or create greater value in these meetings by ensuring that they result in measurable action. I would also like to find more opportunity for our team to try new things and acknowledge that we don’t need to be defined by our past.

At some point, we all act as an agent for change in our personal and professional lives. Being able to articulate a vision for the desired change, showing the stakeholders the shortcomings of their status quo, and presenting a road map between these two opposing states is something that I’ll be working on every day. With one year down I know that the work has just begun but I’ll be standing on the shoulders of my predecessors and the legacy that the principals of Trinidad Systems Limited have defined over their 40 years of success. Here’s to hoping I can be part of the next 40!