Don’t ignore symptoms of ailing career

·        "I don't play politics."

·        "I don't have to network in my company."

·        "I don't have to network because I'm not in the job market."

·        "I do my job from 9 to 5"

·        "Don't expect me to win personality contests."

These are the symptoms of an unhealthy career. Like the patient who ignores chest pains until the big one hits, these employees ignore the symptoms until they've lost their jobs.  They don't understand that they're a part of the "political" system whether they try to be or not.

"Politics" is nothing more than getting to know people on an informal basis. There's nothing manipulative or hypocritical about building trust and rapport with your colleagues.

To take the temperature of your personal political network, ask yourself these questions:

Answer yes or no.

1.      Have I been invited to lunch by a peer in another department in the last week? ________  (If you have, you are probably seen as an important part of that person's network. You may be in a position to help that person with something.)

2.      The last time a job opportunity became available, did I know about it before it was formally announced? __________
(If you did, you are plugged into the top levels of the department. Also, if the job was appropriate for you and your boss told you about the opportunity, it may be a good sign that you are seen as promotable.)

3.      Do I have at least one acquaintance or friend in each department? __________
(If you do, you will know about things that are going on in other departments and will be able to act quickly on problems and opportunities. You will know which areas of the company are growing, who's moving up and where job opportunities are. Also, you will be able to call them you need help with something that may affect them.)

4.      Have my peers trusted me with confidential information? _________
(If they have, it is a good sign that you can be trusted not to use information against anyone. If you keep your mouth shut and use the information for the good of the company and to help your own work, you will be told more than you ever dreamed of.)

5.      Have I been asked to join a committee, task force or project team in the last year? _______
(If you have, you are seen as having at least two things: the technical information needed to solve the problem and the power to block the final outcome, if you don't buy in.)

6.      Have I heard about major events in my department or in the company before they happen? _________
(If you hear about most things before they are formally announced, your network is excellent. If you only hear about the technical things first, you need to expand your network to include non-technical people. Include secretaries and people at lower levels as well as higher levels.)

7.      Do I know who my boss confides in? ________
(If you do, you also know whose advice he listens to.)

8.      Do I know how my boss gets along with his peers and superiors? ______
(If you know that your boss doesn't get along with one department head, you will need to make extra efforts to get to know the people in the "disliked" department. Your boss will not be able to mediate conflicts that erupt between the two departments, so you will have to develop good relationships. Also, he will find your connections valuable and will use you to communicate with the other department.)

9.      Do I know my boss's goals and ambitions? _______
(If you do, you can help him or her to achieve them and will be highly valuable in your boss's eyes.)

10. Do I know who to approach when I want to change a procedure or when I want to try a new idea? Do I make an effort to speak to these people frequently? ________
(If you have a good working relationship established before you ask for buy in or approval, you have a better chance at getting what you want.)

11. The last time I needed a quick answer in the middle of a rush job, did I know the right in-house contact to call?_______
(If you did, you have made it a point to get to know who does what and that resource list has paid off.)

If you answered "yes" to at least 8 of the questions, you have your finger on the pulse of the organization. If you answered "yes" 5 to 8 times, you are connected but could do more. If you answered "yes" less than 5 times, you are isolated and vulnerable.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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