Thursday, May 6, 2010

The politics of success.

Post 482 - All relationships begin with an impression - sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes ambivalent. We're never perceived in a neutral way - we're always making an impression. People believe what they see, so dress, posture, poise and personal politics have a powerful influence on career progression. Here are some key beliefs that people use in managing their impressions in order to advance in their careers:

- Merit alone isn't sufficient for advancement. Creating the appearance of being a winner and 'looking promotable' is equally important.

- It's very important to develop social relationships with superiors and co-workers. While these relationships should appear to be social in nature, in reality they're useful for job contacts and getting insider information about what's really going on in the firm.

- Looking like a 'team player' is central to career advancement. However, successful people still pursue their self-interest through 'antagonistic cooperation' - appearing to be cooperative and helpful on the surface while simultaneously gathering information about how to conquer the competition.

- In order to advance, individuals must appear to be loyal and committed to their current employers while at the same time keeping their resumes circulating and otherwise keeping their employment options open.

- If unethical behavior is sometimes necessary in order to get promoted, it's important not to advocate or even acknowledge the existence of such behavior. It also helps to become adept at inconsistency and develop the ability to hold public positions that are either mutually inconsistent or inconsistent with past public positions.

- Win the respect and admiration of superiors by publicizing accomplishments, drawing attention to skills and abilities, and publicly displaying awards.

- Keep a safe distance from negative events, deflect personal responsibility for problems, and always diminish the seriousness of difficulties.

- In many jobs, much of the real work can't be tangibly assessed and as a result, relative success in these jobs can't be easily validated. Therefore it's important to create the illusion of success and power socially through symbols such as dress and office layout. I've seen this include locks on file drawers, positioning visitors so the sun is in their eyes, and having their chairs lower than the office occupant's desk!

Today's post describes some of the political realities I've experienced in a way that may or may not match your own personal values. And, as Brian Tracey reminds us, "Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance."

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