We continue with the series on tips for heads of department. So far, we have covered issues you need to manage pertaining to people, processes, delivery of results, managing yourself, communication and ‘managing the company.’
Today, let us dwell on managing company politics. This is another very important aspect of your job because if you fail to recognise or manage the company politics, you may have tough time at work or even lose your job.
Even in churches, they have a lot of church politics! What more at companies and organisations. Of course, some companies have more politics than others. In fact, some companies have so much politics that they are nearly political in nature! As a senior executive, you need to recognise this reality at all times.
Most of the politics revolves around people trying to look good at expense of others. In every company, you will find people who want to seek power, priority, promotions and attention even where unnecessary. They will use every possible trick to achieve these goals.
Some of them will use good ways, others will use crafty tactics and sometimes even bad methods. They may sacrifice your peace for the sake of trying to achieve their selfish goals. These are realities of life at the work place.
As you climb higher, you are likely to experience more of the politics up there as well as effects of the politics coming from below. For the politics up there, keep your eyes focussed on delivering results and keeping your track record. Be well protected at every time by delivering results and keeping record of all important communication and events. These may be what may save your job one day!
When you deliver results and keep your promises and deadlines, even enemies will find it difficult to wage war against you. Even when they do wage the war, they will not go far. Delivering results is the best weapon you can use against all your adversaries at the work place. I have found this weapon infallible in my personal experience and it has saved me personally in the few isolated tough moments. I am sure that you can also find big solace in delivery of results when tough moments strike.
Keeping record of important communication is also vital. Make sure that you know the limits of your authority and power. For anything outside your authority, seek documented approval of the authority above you. When you are not sure, it means you need the approval of the authority above you. When the authority above you does not approve or is silent, you have no power to proceed. You better weather the pressure of inactivity now than face the consequences tomorrow of the action you take without proper approvals.
There are few bosses from whom you can take their word of mouth. I have had may be two out of two like that. For the most bosses, do not take their verbal instruction on serious matters. Even when instructed verbally, follow up with a memo, letter or email seeking their written approval or instruction before you can take action. Exceptions to this should be rare-I have had only two exceptions out of ten or so bosses in my life!
You will also face politics from those below. This will be mostly because some of the juniors want to outplay their peers. Look beyond the politics when managing your staff. Attend to the quiet ones that deliver results, as much if not even more than the ‘noisy political’ members of your team. Remember to reward the real performers. It is easy to fall prey to the political members of your team who add very little value to your agenda and to the delivery of your department.
Finally, also manage the politics from peers. Your delivery of results will remain your best weapon. Avoid joining the clubs that ‘talk’ ‘without walking the talk’. Be trusted with your promises and your results. Be a credible person and remain professional. This way, the company politics will find you difficult to crack. Good luck! n