It is okay to be a little bit nosy!

I took this "nose" picture in Sighisoara Romania.

I took this "nose" picture in Sighisoara Romania.

Often when we are young we are admonished by our parents not to be nosy, to butt in, or to be meddlesome. However, it is that very trait which has helped to propel my career. If you're looking for new opportunities and challenges in your current position, I would encourage you to engage in a little proactive nosiness.

Let me give you an example from my own career. I was a young Sales Manager for a large Regional Direct Store Delivery company. We consistently had significant challenges with specials, called "hot shots". After much frustration and a fair amount of calls from irate customers, I sauntered over to the distribution office ready to share my aggravation. When I met with the dispatcher and inquired as to why the challenges with "hot shot" deliveries, he said that there was no process. The current manager simply told them to get it done and then bought pizzas for the group to thank them for making the effort. A bit of irony, that manager's prior position was running a distribution center for a pizza company. The two facts combined to earn him the nickname "the pizza guy", which did little to bolster his credibility within the department. 

Rather than just let it be, I began to ask questions. How did the "hot shot" get communicated? Did we have dedicated drivers for "hot shots"? This continued and eventually manifested into a  fully developed SOP for "hot shots". A few weeks later, I was called into the Senior VP and General Manager's office. He wished to discuss my interaction in distribution. I was certain, just like my parents, I was about to be admonished for being nosy. That was not the case. It turns out "the pizza guy" left the organization and the SVP and General Manager was asking me to step in and lead the distribution organization. Suddenly, I was in charge of a department with over 150 drivers, 300 pieces of equipment and an operating budget in excess of $35 million annually. Oh, and I got to keep my other job. I knew nothing about distribution! Embarrassingly, I vividly remember  asking one of the supervisors what the shiny round stainless steel thing was hanging from the bottom of the trailer. To which he responded, the gas tank for the refrigeration unit. 

However, over the next 10 years, I had the opportunity to learn and teach so many things. The functional managers of the department taught me about all the nuances of distribution, soon I was buying fleet and developing routing and redesigning the network. I got in the trucks with the drivers and learned what it took to be a professional truck driver, but I also taught them. I provided insight into problem solving techniques, financial reporting, KPI's and business case development. Together we dramatically improved the department and, most importantly, developed life long friendships built out of mutual admiration and respect.

So go ahead, be a little nosy, butt in, be meddlesome. You might be opening the door to a great challenge and adventure. Just make sure to do it for the right reason; to benefit the company as a whole, to better the output and improve the service to the customer. 

Thanks for reading!

Elliot Begoun