Every organization has a set of informal groups which cut across functional boundaries and hierarchy. These informal social linkages are the real reason for any kind of changes happening in an organization. Emails or official meetings don’t do it, they only formalize which has already been decided in these informal groups. Now I have probably made it sound like a conspiracy to make appointed management ineffective, or interest groups lobbying, no such things. I am only hinting at the human factor in play here. People talk to people, they like and dislike, they want to belong to a certain ‘group’ of people. They want reassurances in time of doubt, they want to celebrate in times of victory. I don’t think I should go too deep into human phycology here. The bottom line is informal social groups are more powerful than any organized entity.
So if that’s how things are done, so are you doomed? My answer is, It depends on where you belong. One natural instinct is to belong with people of your kind, I mean language, stature, liking but that may not give you the entry into the club that matters. If you want to be successful in life, or I should say corporate life, you have to ‘Follow the Stars’. Look for them in your organization, develop rapport with them, take cues from them, make yourself useful, be available. Every body likes to be admired, likes to be followed (not stalked 🙂 ), they are humans like you with egos sometimes bloated to match the size of their offices. They like to feel needed and important. These individuals are your gateway to the right fraternity.
How do you get close to these high potential, influential coworkers, and be remembered. I have a few ideas but first lets identify who to follow and then how.
The Blue Eyed Boy (Girl): Look for that flamboyant personality who usually hangs out with people of influence in the organization. He is the one who is on his way up to the corner office or that coveted corridor at least. He is probably loud but popular. He is usually part of middle management or a super sales performer.
The Communicator: Being a good communicator is a mandatory requirement for success. One surefire sign of a star is his communications skills and confidence. If he is a good communicator, he will be able to get his message across easily. He is understood easily and admired for his use of words. He makes sure there is no noise in the medium when he communicates. Guess how important such a person could be to your future growth if he uses the same communications skills, to promote you, that he is so admired for.
The Passionate Believer: This guy has an undying faith in the organization, its culture and products. He wants to be part of something bigger. He is a visionary and always sees the glass half full. They are sometimes too loyal to the company for their own good, but he is your man.
The Connector: This blog post is all about who you know? Well, it’s who you know, along with who your target stars know, and to whom they are willing to introduce you. The Connector willingly opens up their network to help move you forward. The Connector is one of the most valuable mentoring assets you can have.
So now when you can spot the stars in your organization, lets see how to cultivate a strong relationship based on mutual respect and trust.
Get to know them: You should know as much as possible about these stars and their stories. Their personalities and their ambitions. Try to understand their sphere of influence in the organization. This will help you decide if you can take sides without compromising your neutrality.
Ask for Advice: Asking someone for advice is a great strategy for getting people to like you. Asking for advice shows that you value their opinion and demonstrates respect. When you make someone feel better about himself or herself, that person will most certainly end up liking you.
Ask Questions: Asking other people questions, about their lives, their interests, their passions is a definite way to make them want to talk to you again. As I said people are egocentric, they love to talk about themselves. If you’re asking questions and getting people to talk about themselves, they’ll leave the conversation trusting you. There isn’t an obvious reason but subconsciously they start liking you.
Keep Secrets: Once you are trusted, whatever you hear should remain a secret. You are not supposed to share it with anybody. This way you will strengthen your bond.
Help them Achieve their Goals: Don’t underestimate yourself. You can be of immense help to these people further their own ambitions and goals. Be useful and rest assured you will be pulled up along.
How to be useful to these high potential stars and seen as adding quantifiable value to your organization, is a topic on its own and demands for a separate post. Till then, happy reading.