office politics

CWC #12

Do you know colleagues within your company but outside your workteam?

Too many people downplay and even look down on the idea of proactively getting to know others within their company with whom they don’t directly work.

“I don’t socialize at work.”

“I don’t play politics.” 

“That’s just wasting time.”

These are a few excuses people give.  Yes, I say excuses, because often what I find out is that they are simply uncomfortable reaching out and initiating communication and this is how they justify not doing so. Sometimes I find people are simply unaware of how important relationships are in business.

Talking to more people in more areas of your business gives you a broader perspective, which generally makes your solutions better.  You also may have an easier time gaining approval for your solutions if you have more advocacy particularly across departmental lines.  And, you just may be able to give not just get, and help your organization in the process.  Overall, it helps you to be more effective across the board.  Could you be more effective than you are today?

Strategic Self-Presentation

In the last post, I discussed ways to develop a more strategic view in business. Now, what if you already think strategically but you still have an image that says you don’t?

One of my colleagues had this issue in a previous role. When told by a trusted leader, “You need to be more strategic,” she was flabbergasted. When she started telling this person all the work she was doing that was truly strategic and affecting the direction of her division, the realization hit that nobody outside of a few people in her division knew about it. She had to start thinking strategically about who knew what she was doing.

I mentor through a fantastic leadership development program called WOMEN Unlimited. There’s a saying they use: it’s not what you know, it’s who knows you know. This is so true. Too many people hide their light under a bushel. Women in particular do this a lot, though in my career I’ve known plenty of men who do it too.

Let’s say you are thinking strategically, or adding strategic value to the business. Who knows it? Do your leaders one or two levels up know? Do people in other divisions know?

Some of you are starting to cringe and think “office politics–ewww.” I don’t call it office politics. It’s not empty glad- handing. It’s taking the time to think about and having the confidence to do something about sharing information with those who want to know and who may likely benefit by it. Your leadership team benefits by knowing what fantastic work you do. It may be something they want to implement elsewhere. It may be something that can help them highlight the value of your team (and that’s pretty important in today’s world of job cuts and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately?)

Is one of those people who will benefit by it You? Yessiree, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Each of us must take responsibility for the part we play in creating our own professional brand. That means thinking strategically about how and to whom we are presenting ourselves.

What are you doing strategically to create yours?