Wednesday, December 03, 2008

If you are the youngest of your siblings like me, you probably realized early on that you need to do certain things to stand out, get what you want and accomplish your goals. These strategies and techniques if you will, worked or didn't work in your personal relationships, socially and at work. What is unique about Corporate Politics is that the game often has very different rules and you might be playing the same way as you always have.

I have worked in a variety of jobs in my life. Among the multiple jobs I have had, I have always been told "Rachel, you have potential" and "you are smart." When it came time for promotions however, I was not the one chosen in most cases. My coworkers would tell me that it's because "you're too good at what you do" or "you need to get a Masters Degree to do that" and although the comments came from caring friends, I always suspected that there was more to it that I didn't know.

After getting laid off from what I thought was my dream job. I was heartbroken. They would not tell me why I was one of the people chosen to be laid off and wished me well with familiar words "You're smart. Go to graduate school. This has nothing to do with your performance. You can do more." I was puzzled. If it wasn't my performance, if it wasn't my intellegence, if it wasn't my capabilities than what the *&^% was it? It was organizational politics.

It was a bittersweet departure as I made the final decision to go to The Marshall Goldsmith School of Management (pic above of Marshall Goldsmith)to study Industrial Organizational Psychology. Partly inspired by the person who had just laid me off. Weird. My boss couldn't tell me that it was because I wasn't lying and cheating (which the other faculty were doing) to get funding and he couldn't tell me that it was because he knew that I was a potential whistleblower (which I never did). He could only say what he was "allowed" to say. I really don't blame him.

As with every other bad situation in life, something amazingly good came out of it. Although I was bitter for quite some time, I was finally able to let it go and look at the lessons I learned from what had happened. Had I understood corporate politics and had not been in denial about it, I would have saved myself a lot of grief.

Fast forward to 2008 and I hear about this seminar that is being offered titled "Corporate Politics" taught by a thought leader by the name of Gary Ranker (pic above). I had an opportunity to share my experience with others and get feedback on it. The first lesson I learned was: get out of denial about corporate politics. They exist, it's real and you are playing them (unconsciously) anyway so you might as well play smart. The second lesson I learned was: It happens to everyone. I am not a victim. I can do very practical, healthy things to overcome obstacles based on organizational politics. The third lesson I learned was: I can't do this alone. A coach to support me in accomplishing my goals is crucial for me to succeed, to push me beyond my limits and call me on my BS. I also need to trust my honest friends and family members that will give me the feedback and support I need.

Sitting in Gary Ranker's class has given me the tools to understand the importance of corporate politics and how to win the game by not playing dirty but still playing. As I graduate with my Masters Degree and enter the corporate world....may the games begin. Bring it.

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Blogger Rob Major said...


Thank you for sharing your personal story; it is good to hear that there has been closure with your previous job and that you've been able to file it under 'lessons learned' in your life experiences.

Being in grad school for close to four years now, I'm amazed that this is the first time that I've truly learned about organizational politics because it plays such a pivotal role at work.

9:09 PM  

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