Many of my clients have lamented about a broken system in their
company, or the riddle of politics which hinders their upward
progression. They admit to frustration and a desire to ‘change’ the way
it works. Well, here’s a newsflash; unless you are the CEO, and often
even that position doesn’t give you the power you want due to Board
constraints and shareholder expectation, you have to play by the rules
of organization in which you live.
Companies never function solely according to their organizational
charts. Organizations are made up of people and personalities, which
often equate to politics, power plays, and turf wars. None of this is
dictated or remedied by an organizational chart. Period.
We have to learn the system in which we work not fight it. We have to learn how to use it.
Every organization has a ‘secret chart’ or ‘a list’ which denotes the
real decision makers, the short cuts to get things accomplished, and
how things really work. If we want to play the game, we have to learn the spoken and unspoken rules, and use them to accomplish our objective.
Finally, we need to have friends. This should be an obvious
statement; yet, what I have observed is that many think if they are
smart enough, shrewd enough, and have an unblemished track record they
will get ahead. Wrong. This is never a guarantee. Having strong
relationships is a critical success factor for those running a career
marathon. The larger the company and the tighter the industry, this
becomes an imperative. Peers must become allies, not competitors. This
is not company politics, by the way, this is wanting the best for
everyone and by doing so, all boats rise within the company – including
We will not single-handedly change the culture, system, or unspoken
rules of any organization in which we work. We must realize this, learn
it, adapt to it, and use it. And if we make the decision we can’t or
don’t want to; then realize another decision will be awaiting you.