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January 23, 2007

Of Smoke Breaks and Misanthropy in Corporates

Penelope Trunk at Brazen Careerist says -

"The point is that people judge your work skills as incompetent if you are not likeable — no matter what your work skills are. It may not be fair, but it’s what people do. So if you want to keep your job, you need to do enough politicking at work to make people like you"

A few years back, I would have scoffed at this. Why would have..I think I did scoff. After all, when you are fresh from Bschool, armed with delusions about your work speaking for yourself and delivery being the only thing you would want to focus on, a statement like this would be so "uncool" to make.

It takes the tough terrains of the corporate territory to bring you to a level playing ground and make you ask the important question - "If we are all so good, how do I get better?"

Lets face it, in today's information age, every individual has the knowledge and skills he needs to perform his job. If he does not have it, he can get it at the click of a button. It is hardly a competitive advantage.

On the other hand, what gives him the advantage is the "how".

You have a great idea...How do you sell it?
You have a great team...How do you manage them?

At the heart of these questions is a very very fundamental ability - "The ability to enhance your delivery by leveraging people / relationships" (Point to note - Leverage is not a euphemism for manipulate. A seperate blog post on what will follow)

So what are the elements of this ability?

Timing: Many ideas flop, not because they are bad, but because they have bad timing. Had you spent time with your customer understanding his preoccupations, you could have timed it better and increased chances of its acceptance.

Style: Very subjective, but crucial nevertheless. To put it simply, behaviours that demonstrate openness and willingness to accept feedback definitely find more acceptance amongst people.

Addressing the "Whats In It for Me". A sharp "people's person" will have mapped this out at the outset. He will know exactly what each of his stakeholders value and build that into his proposition.

And how will you know all iof us? Only when you engage with people, no matter how much you hate them or how much they tire you. There is no alternative to this, you cant delegate this, you cant outsource it. You need people around you, and you have to make them listen to you if you are to succeed.

So go ahead and take those smoke breaks, especially if you are NOT a smoker. You will be surprised at how many key decisions get made there!


  • nice...u could have citied some real examples and made it even more impactful ..cheers

    By Blogger Kapil, at Tuesday, 23 January, 2007  

  • I find myself cringing when I read of internal customers. Here's how I see it and have debated it at length around the office. There's too much emphasis on customers here and customers there - neatly they are categorized as internal and external customers. I would submit that when it comes to work priorities, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. If everyone is a customer (internal or external) then no one is a customer. I don't believe in the internal customer bit. I believe there is one customer for an organization and he/she/it is the consumer of the product or service being produced/sold. All these so called internal customers actually should be considered work groups who combine as an organization to produce the good or service the business is in. When this is effectively done, then I believe everyone may have a clearer eye on their part in moving whatever the output product is. Basic message, don't forget who the real customer is: the ones who keep the business in business by consuming its goods/services.

    By Blogger emsanch, at Tuesday, 30 January, 2007  

  • Yea, you are right. Growth happens only with acceptability and that results only when you listen to others and vice versa.

    Don't agree with the word "politicking" though - although you have quoted it. If the intention is honest then it would surely show - maybe not in the first instance, but it would come out.



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, 10 April, 2007  

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