I’d Never Lie—Would I?

    I’d Never Lie—Would I? You manage a software development group which has a multi-year project. It’s been one disaster after another. The first year, the client kept changing the specs. By the time that was sorted, you were almost six weeks behind. In the second year, the programmers ran into all kinds of problems not foreseen by the (now fired) systems architect. The programming started almost three months late. However, some simplification of the Years Three to Five plans should get you back on track by mid-Year Five. But the mid-term review is coming up. You meet with your boss, Rhonda, to discuss. Rhonda: Paul, I’m really worried about your report. You: I know it looks bad now but we can catch up by Year Five. Rhonda: But what if the executive committee doesn’t buy that? They’ll shut us down. Which means lay-offs. All your guys, I’d expect. You: (desperately) I’m sure we can make up the time. We just need the rest of the funding. Rhonda: I’ve got to take something more positive to the executive committee. Otherwise, we can kiss both our careers good-bye. You leave the meeting frustrated and, truth to tell, more than a…

How Do I Get Power/Influence?

  How Do I Get Power/ Influence? Let’s say you’ve recognized that you need to have influence or power in your job, either to move ahead or avoid falling behind. First and as a given, you need to do your present job exceptionally well even if it’s a joe job and you know you’d be more successful at a higher level. Bosses don’t promote people who are doing a crummy job, no matter the reason. However, that’s not enough. To position yourself for promotion, you need to be influential with your boss and within your company.[1] Even if your boss doesn’t have the power to promote you, he can usually assign you to projects which increase your skills or assign you to cross-functional teams. The first makes you more promotable and the second gives you profile. How do you create influence? How many of the following are effective in creating influence? a) Working even harder b) Doing whatever needs to be done c) Flattering the boss d) Suggesting new ideas even if you give the credit to others e) Suggesting new ideas even if they aren’t your own f) Highlighting the many fires you’ve put out Did you pick more…

Power—Work’s Hidden Engine

    Power—Work’s Hidden Engine As I mentioned in a previous post, there are at least five undercurrents in organizations. Power is an important one. Here’s an example of how it’s used at work. Power at work Your company manufactures greeting cards. You are meeting with your boss Galen and your peer managers. Galen is a nice guy but to your mind, too much under the influence of Mike, one of your peers. Galen: Alicia [Galen’s boss] wants a new service to let customers customize their cards. They access our files on say, birthdays, to pick the wording and picture. We combine them to print or send by soft copy. I’m looking for the right person to take this on. Mike hogs things Mike: Well, obviously, since I manage the writers, it would be best if I took it. Sarah: Why, Mike? I’ve got the artists. People buy cards for the illustration, not the words. I should head up the new service. You make a bid YOU: Well, since my guys ready the illustrations and text for production, I should get it. Mike: You’re just the back end. You put the files together so production won’t screw up. YOU: Exactly,…

Does your office have undercurrents?
Dark Side for Employees / April 15, 2016

  It can be hard to imagine that your work place has undercurrents, especially since, as I say, they are not well recognized by even the most astute office politicians. Undercurrents quiz To identify if your company does, answer the following questions: Who is influential/who gets listened to? The person with the best argument, however expressed The one whose words fit the latest strategy  Whoever shouts loudest or longest? Who gets promoted? The one who: Has the right skills and aptitudes Is one of our kind Plays golf /racket ball or drinks with the right people? How is dissent handled? Acknowledged even from nut cases. Debated. Politely listened to and then ignored Shouted down Ridiculed Listened to only from well-respected people Which is true of your company? I can say the unpopular without being ridiculed or punished It’s better to have an iffy decision than piss people off by insisting on the right one I avoid telling my boss how things really are Unless you have picked the first option for every question, you have undercurrents. And frankly, if you didn’t, I’d have trouble believing you. All organizations have them, some tow more than others, some are more underground, but…

What are the Undercurrents of the Dark Side?
Dark Side for Employees / April 15, 2016

  Last time I gave an example of a group meeting where you wanted to vote ‘no.’ But despite this and having promised a colleague Thomas to do so, you voted ‘yes’. Why did you do it? Thomas would say you chickened out. The others in the group might assume you saw the strength of their arguments. At the time, you thought it was about fear of repercussions and that the larger group had a point. Anyhow, your ‘no’ vote wouldn’t have made any difference to the outcome. While all these explanations are possible, I think there are deeper reasons. Organizational undercurrents I think you were caught up in an organizational undercurrent. Organizational undercurrents are persisting, behavior-shaping systems which operate under the radar of most people but nevertheless have a compelling influence on what and how work gets done. They can force you to do things opposite to your intention (as you did in the previous example) can have even more devastating consequences than the relatively trivial example I used. What are organizational undercurrents? There are many undercurrents but in the blog, I’ll deal in detail with five: Power. Power is the currency and driver of the company, but its…