Are You in In-Groups?

Are You in In-Groups? In-groups and out-groups Companies don’t like admitting there are in-groups and out-groups—it conflicts with the one-big-happy-family thing they have going. They want to believe that everybody is equally valued and there are no first among equals. But, of course, organizations are set up exactly that way. There are in-groups at every level of a hierarchy, usually consisting of the boss and some of his immediate subordinates. So your boss is in more of an in-group than you by virtue of his position. So, in-groups abound, most centered around the boss. (I’ll deal with peer-centered in-groups later). Being part of one can bring many benefits. So, my first question is: Are you in the in-group? This might seem a silly question but sometimes people don’t know. You are usually part of the in-group[1] if: You’re the boss’ go-to guy. If you hear what’s coming down the pipe first and particularly if the boss asks your opinion of the new development, you’re probably in the in-group. But we need to distinguish between expert opinion and judgment opinion. Your boss might ask you something in your area of expertise. This is just fact-finding. When the boss asks your opinion…

Is There an In-Group at Your Work?

Is There an In-Group at Your Work? It’s a silly question to some If you have a boss who clearly favors some subordinates, and especially if you’re not one of the chosen, this seems a silly question as it’s as plain as the nose on your face that an in-group exists at your work. But for those either new to work or to the concept, it can be hard to tell. Is there an in-group at your work? There probably is, in that it’s just human nature for the boss to turn to people who’ve been with her a while, whose judgment she values, or who have a perspective she finds helpful. But the presence of an in-group is not as important as whether their special status affects your ability to do good work and be respected for it. Here are some ways to assess this: If you see a couple of the in-group talking, do you feel free to go up and ask, “What’s up?” and do they respond by including you in the discussion? Or do you have to be sure it’s a non-work exchange before you break in? If something happens you don’t like, can you say…

Making a Decision with Power Undercurrents at Work

Making a Decision with Power Undercurrents at Work In the previous post, knowing that the upcoming budget meeting was going to be contentious, you prepared for it by working through how to deal with any issues which might be raised. This recognizes the undercurrent of keeping or increasing power which is underlying the decision. Just as a reminder: YOU are Galen, Alicia is your boss, and Dante and Marguerite are your peer managers. Working with undercurrents in making the decision Let’s run through how the meeting might go and how YOU can apply your prep to the situation. Alicia: Okay, next item: funding Galen’s project.   You: Just before we start, could I review what my team has come to understand are the real benefits of this project for the company? (And then outline them). Take charge by using some of your prep work Alicia: So how much do you think you’ll need?   You: About 500K.   Dante:  Wow, that’s a lot! They are going to say that no matter what You: About half is for software development, and about (outline breakdown of costs). Bolster the feeling that you have a handle on this although expect some picking at…

Managing Power Undercurrents in a Budget Meeting

Managing Power Undercurrents in a Budget Meeting In a previous post, you tried to get the budget for a new project but got snookered by the others at the meeting (your boss Alicia and your peer managers, Dante and Marguerite). Is there any way you could have better the outcome of having to fund the project from your existing budget? Preparing to meet power undercurrents There is a charming, naïve and completely wrong idea that, even with important issues, you can wing it. You can’t. Just hoping for the best is not a plan. You need to think through the issue before you engage with others who also have a stake in the outcome of the discussion. I don’t say that you have to do this for every meeting, but you need to in the case we’re talking about, you probably do. Budget, and its discussions, is pointy end of the spear in any organization. Everyone will arrive ready to defend their piece of it and, if possible, increase it. The power undercurrent will be running fast and strong. You’ll get swept under unless you prepare yourself. Questions to ask yourself before the budget meeting In the earlier post, you…

Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 2 of 2

Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 2 of 2 You (Galen) have to re-allocate your budget to fund a new service which allows customers to design their own greeting cards. You will have to take money from the budgets of the other supervisors (Sarah and Neil), to reallocate to Mike who will head up the new service. You meet with all the supervisors to discuss how to do this. The tough discussion You: Okay, guys, Alicia doesn’t have enough to fund the new service from her budget, so we need to come up with half of the money.   Sarah: You mean you’re going to cut us? You need to expect protest and let it run for a bit. Dale: No way, Galen, I’m under-funded as it is.   You: I’m sorry but we need to do this. But I won’t make the decision until after I’ve heard your views. This is very important to say. In the heat of the moment, they may try to take over the decision. Dale: Well, why did you pick Mike to begin with? I could have done as good a job. You are paying for the old sin of not choosing Mike…