Matthew Maennling, SVP of Professional Services (North America)

In our new series, we ask our key thought leaders to share a more personal perspective on their career journey and current position.

Matthew is our Senior Vice President for Professional Services in North America. He has enjoyed a 25-year career in IT project delivery executive leadership and practice management in the Healthcare, Telecommunications, Government and Education verticals. Embracing the challenge of managing customer, business and technical priorities, often at odds, Matthew has embraced the role of taking accountability for making it all work – on time and on budget.

Matthew leads team members at Orion Health assigned to client projects, and embraces the responsibility of helping them with their career paths, executing solutions for their customers, and maintaining a happy and productive work culture focused on growth and learning.

Can you share with us five things you wish you knew before you started out?

Help your client to succeed – and everyone is your client
People who are early in their career have often succeeded at school by being singularly focused on their performance. In a business or other organisation, it’s helpful to remember that in every interaction, try to identify other peoples’ needs and priorities and to find ways to support them in positive ways. A supervisor, colleague, client or support staff member are all people whose priorities you can help to achieve. Always remember to keep that idea of serving your clients as your number one priority, and do your best to deliver positive solutions and outcomes.

Hire one, get two!
When recruiting a new team member, find someone who can fulfil the immediate needs of the role for which you are hiring, but who also has secondary and other skillsets you could imagine being helpful in their career with your organisation. Remembering the idea “Hire One, Get Two” is the idea that the best candidates could play many roles in your organisation, and that you can imagine them changing roles and being promoted even before you hire them!

Assume the best intentions in communications
Text-based communications (email, text messages, chats) can cause misunderstandings between senders and receivers because it’s difficult to understand tone, intent and motivation without seeing and hearing someone. It can be easy to think, mistakenly, that someone is attacking you, dismissing you or even worse! Instead, assume that the sender has positive intentions, then phone, video chat or meet them in person to ask for clarification before letting a misunderstanding spiral out of control. Be positive, and assume the best in others.

Trust but verify
Delegating work can be challenging when you are a new leader. When you start your career as a specialist, the quality of your work may have earned you a promotion as a leader, but learning to let others take responsibility to deliver work is essential. You need to learn to “Trust But Verify” when assigning work to team members – give them the freedom to interpret as much of the task as possible, but give supportive feedback along the way and don’t wait until the last moment to verify that they are on track. This will build trust, encourage autonomy, and reduce anxiety in your team members as they do their work.

Get media training
Some people are comfortable speaking in front of groups and taking the lead in discussions. Speaking in high stakes, or pressured situations, however, requires a different skillset – how to keep to a set of key messages, how to redirect a question or conversation back to those key messages, and how to remain positive and in control during a heated or combative exchange. These skills, and more, are part of media training and add polish and authority to your speaking skills through video-recorded practise, role-playing and simulated interviews. Get media trained as early in your career as you can; it’s a great investment in your skills as a communicator and leader.

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