Every workplace, no matter the size, has its own well-established political economy. There are no perfect meritocracies, no perfect Kumbaya environments in the corporate space.
We can bemoan it, but we must deal with it. As you navigate the choppy waters, keep these truths (not all of them pleasant) in mind.
Your boss will have favorites — It may not be true for parents, but it’s definitely true for managers. They have favorites and sometimes play favorites. Favorites are often (but not always) chosen based on merit, in which case, it’s not a bad thing to be a boss’s favorite.
Your attitude counts — If people view you as positive, grounded, can-do, optimistic, serious and committed, doors will open.
Your “presence” makes a difference — The 21st century workplace may be less sexist and racist than the 20th, but it is in no way immune to judging you based on how you carry yourself. It doesn’t matter what color you are, your waist size, or your gender…but you will win or lose based on “presence.”
People are judging you — You are under a microscope, especially as you move up the ladder and take on additional management responsibilities. Sure, some people are focusing on superficial things like the color of your shirt, but that’s immaterial. How you handle tough situations, how you mediate conflicts between teams, how much you roll up your sleeves (or not)…these are the kind of things that score you points and demerits.
Speaking too much is worse than saying nothing — Silence will sometimes make us so anxious we just clamor to fill it. Other times you may be in a meeting where everybody has a lot to say, and you feel like you just have to keep up. The reality is that discerning managers like staff who may say a bit less than others, but end up saying a lot, nonetheless.
Everybody gossips – And yes, they are talking about you, too. Accept it, avoid it, and focus on what really matters. Remember, what other people think of you is none of your business.
Your value: Do sell, don’t oversell — Take credit where it is due (but dish out even larger portions). Advocate for yourself. Sell it, but don’t oversell it — a smart boss knows your value.
It’s often best to do nothing — Sometimes the best reaction to a challenge, an opportunity, a threat, an insult, a fork in the road, is to just…do nothing. Let it sit. Mull it. Breathe a bit and then go back to it only if it’s worth it.
Everyone isn’t treated fairly — You do the right thing and still, you get screwed. It happens, intentionally and unintentionally. If it’s systemic to your workplace, you need to hit the eject button, but more often than not it’s an occasional bump that must be taken in stride so long as the “big picture” holds its value.
Harsh truths, perhaps, but you can still thrive if you don’t get caught up in the games. It’s a tough environment to navigate without a partner — like an executive coach — who can help you see your way through. I love working with leaders to create their own unique and sustainable impact. We look at how you’re leading and the relationships you’ve developed. Not only with others but with yourself. I work with leaders who want to shape and mold their organizations and make an impactful difference. I get it. I’ve been there. The hardest thing is to keep your focus and ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ because tomorrow is a new day! Drop me a line and let’s talk.