I was talking with a Vice President of Human Resources about working with his salespeople so they could close more business. Like most prospects, he wanted to know a little bit about my background. I told him that I worked for one of the major oil companies for 16 years. I was often the only female on the team. He responded, “You must be very politically savvy.” I had never thought about it. But, he was right. To thrive in Corporate America, you do have to be politically savvy. So how did I survive in business?
Some people believe that the most talented people get promoted in business. That is not true. Being competent is only one factor in promotability. As I look around to see who gets promoted today, it is not always the smartest, most successful worker. It is often the one who is best known. How can you get promoted if only a few people know the quality of your work? Suppose you have a boss who is not actively championing your work. Other people in your organization who can promote you will be unable to recommend you. They have to know who you are and what you can do. Your job is to get the word out. As you do your work, do you follow your job description and that is all you do? That is not enough to get ahead. You have to volunteer to do other projects so you meet other people from different departments. Why? So more people know you and know your work. After they do, they’ll talk about you. If a larger segment of people know you and your work, it will be much easier to get ahead.
Next, you have to be honest with yourself. Do people like you? While promotions are not a popularity contest, the person who gets the job is often liked by those who offer the job. Here’s where it gets interesting. Sometimes the person who gets the job is liked by those above him and not liked by the people below. I think it’s better to be liked in both directions. That is what I did. What does that mean? It means earning the respect of people you work with so they like you. That will often earn the trust of people who can promote you. How do you get people to like you? You offer to help them and then do it. People like that. Next, if you say something publicly then act consistently when you talk privately with others. If you champion someone’s work, don’t be talking badly about them behind their back. You think this is pretty basic? It is. Yet, I’ve seen a lot of back stabbing in business and those people are not liked or respected. One thing I do know is that people talk. Word will get out if you are consistent. People will like you if you are and dislike you if you are not.