Is it is available everywhere books are sold. You can view a brief video of reader comments by clicking on the link below. First of all Jenny was surprised because her cubicle was in an area where no one could see her daily comings and goings. Jenny had just become a manager for this group three months ago.
She knew they were a bit frustrated with her because she was more hands-on than their previous manager, who had retired after a long career with the company. Jenny was bright, competent, hard working and truly a good manager. If you let one person go and replace them with a trainee, how does that impact all of the others.
How motivated will they be to train the new person? And how many of them will start looking for a new job? All of that has to be part of the thought process. And speaking frankly, she was quite charming when we were interviewing her, but every since she started having problems with her team, that warm charm seems to have faded away.
Or at least good enough to not be embarrassed. A friend took me to an indoor golf coaching clinic where you hit the ball into a video screen while being recorded from two directions in order to analyze your swing. On my third swing the ball hit something hard on the edge of the screen, deflected up to the ceiling and hit a metal pipe then kicked back down to hit me in the forehead. Now, do I hate it because I suck at it, or vice versa? Most people profess to hate office or corporate politics.
And this is primarily because they suck at it. This is of course a natural reaction. But whether you claim to hate it, avoid it, or actively seek to eliminate it, the human dynamic is a fact of life in every business. And humans are messy, chaotic, fickle creatures. They are also very bright and alert, which just adds more intensity to the intrigue. When you smiled and giggled to encourage your mother to hold you, feed you, change your diaper.
When you chose your friends or enemies in school, gave loyalty to get loyalty, did favors to receive favors, and the list goes on. The human dynamic in business becomes more complex because there are both competitive and cooperative pressures. Plus these are people with whom you might not normally choose to associate. In this unnatural tribe of coworkers, the human dynamic allows some to gain advantage personally or for a cause they support, sometimes at the expense of others.
Especially if you start with things like: When you view the entire trajectory of a career, political skill proves to be the best overall predictor of above average achievement. Your tactical job performance, intelligence and personality traits are fundamental to success of course, but these will only get you to the career endpoint at which most other bright competent professional like yourself arrive. Not bad, but not exceptional. It is your political skills or lack thereof which will ultimately determine if your career endpoint is extraordinary.
To deal effectively with office politics and use it yourself in a positive way, you must first accept the reality of it and make a firm decision to become a master of human dynamics in the workplace. Making Politics Work FOR You The best way develop strategies to deal with the political behavior that is going on around you is to first be a good observer and then use the information you gain a deeper awareness of the working network you operate within.
Even the ones you go to lunch with. Even the ones you invite to your wedding. Even the ones you sleep with. They are not real friends. If you lost your job tomorrow, how many of them would be having lunch with you a year from now? The first step in developing greater fluency with office politics is to think through the informal hierarchy within the broad business, as well as within your particular work group. Human influence and power often circumvent the formal organization chart.
Sit back and watch for a while and then re-map the organization chart in terms of political power. Who has real influence to make things happen? Why are they passive? Are they trying to foster leadership in others, or are they afraid of accountability, or is it something else?
Longevity, innovation, helping others, business results? Who champions or mentors others? Who seems to be really good at navigating the human dynamics within the organization find people at all levels if possible This is an exercise you should work on over time. Unless you have had years of experience observing this particular group, you should think through these questions and then spend time noticing their interactions at meetings, events, work discussions, etc.
Too often people will tend to mirror the perception you telegraph, or at least soften their own expressed opinion so as not to be in conflict with what they perceive your opinion to be. But in the work world even the simplest questions about other people can generate paranoia. But you do have to give them a reason. So give them a benign reason, for example: Who gets along with whom or at least appears to. Friendship, respect,common goals, manipulation? Are there obvious groups or cliques?
Are there noticeable interpersonal conflicts? Who is clearly involved? Who has the most trouble getting along with others? Some loners are respected, others ostracized How does the influence flow between the parties?
Again the deep valuable answers to these question will come over time. Think of Jane Goodall and her observations of Lowland Gorillas. She was patient, observing them in their natural settings for years, being careful to not disrupt their natural patterns and interactions.
And over time she gained amazing insight into their social networks and hierarchies. As you observe and deepen your awareness, you can also begin to build your own social network within the organization. You probably already have a natural network.
If you are a new employee you may have aligned with other new employees. If you are an experienced mid-level manager you probably have a natural alignment with your direct reports and others at your level. Do not avoid politically powerful people in the organization. Get to know them. Ensure you have relationships that cross the formal hierarchy in all directions peers, bosses, executives. Start to build relationships with those who have the informal power.
Build your relationships on trust and respect — avoid empty flattery. Be a part of multiple networks — this way you can keep your finger on the pulse of the organization. As you build your relationships, you need to learn to use them to stay clear of negative politicking, and also to promote yourself and your team positively. Use your network to: Build visibility of your achievements. Attract opportunities where you can to shine. Seek out ways to make yourself, your team and your boss look good.
In my first discussion with Jenny, the mid-level manager with poor really, non-existent political skills, she became impatient.
She had always been an exceptional performer in every previous job — hence her rapid career progress — and had always exceeded the expectations of her employers. And not surprisingly, she wanted to rush the process, close the gap and never have this happen again. It took a fair amount of discussion for her to accept that there was no quick fix, and when it comes to the human dynamics within an organization, there are rarely easy answers.
But to her credit, she began the process described above. She came to a much deeper understanding of the dynamics within the group she was managing and eventually someone outside of the group helped her understand their frustration that none of them had even been considered for the management position.
Right or wrong, it was as if the entire group had been dismissed, and they naturally took this as an affront. For Jenny her next step was to neutralize the negative dynamics that were occurring and begin the process of creating a more positive and productive relationship with her group of employees. It takes a confident and mature person to smile and engage positively with someone you know has been backstabbing you.
It takes an exceptionally gifted person to deal productively with a group of backstabbers. But I told Jenny that I truly thought she was up to the difficult task at hand. One of her early realizations was that her choice to work in a cubicle that was distant from her work group was an error.
It created both a physical separation and a social distance, and she acknowledged that perhaps her own discomfort with the group drove her decision.
But I realize now that my job is to change that environment, not run away from it. Generally speaking you can positively influence those who are difficult because they see you as a threat, misunderstand your motivations, or feel slighted by you in some way.
When you engage positively with these individuals, ask good questions and actively listen to them, they will often begin to turn. If you truly engage in an effort to mend fences and genuinely want to help them with their priorities, these people can eventually become allies.
Sometimes they become your strongest allies. Others however can never be turned. And it is difficult to discern the difference. Your mapping of the informal spheres of influence in the organization will have helped you to identify those people who use others for their own purposes, and not necessarily for the common good.