Are You in the In-Group?
Employee Stream , Power for Employees / October 3, 2016

Are You in the In-Group? 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…

Are There In- and Out-Groups at Your Work?
Employee Stream , Power for Employees / September 26, 2016

Are There In- and Out-Groups 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…

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,…

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…