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Reading between the Lines
While not out-and-out lying, people in business often use subtle disinformation to avoid dealing with unpleasant situations such as layoffs, firings, or loss of critical markets or customers. Read between the lines of corporate communications, memos, and press releases to see if there are any other messages that aren’t being told. Consider this benign notice in a company newsletter announcing an upcoming reorganization:
Congratulations to Susan Taylor who unexpectedly retired last week to spend more time with her family. Tom Waco steps into her large shoes as our new Vice President of Engineering and Design.
Reading between the lines, you might realize that the real memo reads something like this:
Susan Taylor, who had a huge problem getting to work on time over the past several years, finally did something bad enough to justify getting fired. Don’t bother dropping by her office to offer your condolences, she was forced to pack up her belongings last Friday and was escorted off the premises by our security guard. Tom Waco, on the other hand, always gets to work on time, and he sometimes stays late, too. This promotion fits in very well with Tom’s personal career plan, and it wouldn’t hurt your career at all to offer your congratulations in person sometime this week. A nice card would be even better.
Probing for Information
It’s in your interest to become a trusted listener to as many people as possible in your organization. This requires a lot of trust, however, and it takes time to develop the high levels of trust necessary to get people to open up and to reveal their real feelings. To gain the trust of others,
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THE REAL WORLD
Every office has ethical issues and politics, some to greater degrees than others. Being aware of these challenges and operating effectively within them can help you be successful in your job and your career. But avoid being sidetracked by the negative or the personal issues that can undermine your success. Realize that there may be a day when someone seemingly less committed and deserving gets a promotion that you felt you deserved for reasons you don't agree with. Remember that there will be other opportunities if you stay the course and continue to produce results, and resist becoming bitter or disillusioned with the organization or the people in it. if the situation persists and you continue to feel undervalued and underutilized, there are many other organizations that are likely to appreciate what you have to offer, and it may be best to find a culture that better fits who you are.
you have to demonstrate that you are someone who can be trusted. Breach that trust—even once—and you may never recover it again.
When it comes to probing for information from your coworkers or others, there are a number of clear guidelines that you should adhere to, including:
• Have at least three ways of obtaining the information.
• Check the information through two sources.
• Promise anonymity whenever possible.
• Generally know the answers to the questions you ask.
• Be casual and nonthreatening in your approach.
• Assume that the initial answer is superficial.
• Ask the same question different ways.
• Be receptive to whatever information you’re given.
MANAGE YOUR MANAGER
Successful managers know the importance of managing not just down the chain of command—to their employees—but also up the chain of command, to their bosses and their bosses’ bosses. While you’re not going to sign off on your boss’s next pay increase, you can have a significant influence on his or her decisions. Here are three of the most effective techniques for managing your manager:
• Keep your manager informed of your successes, and of the successes of your employees.
• Support your manager in meetings, in public and in private.
• Praise your manager publicly and be sure that the praise gets back to your manager.
Although your relationship with your manager is very important for the development and progress of your own career, you need to cultivate relationships with your manager’s bosses too. Perhaps the most important relationship to develop beyond your own manager is with your manager’s manager—an individual who is likely to have a very big influence on your future.
Move Ahead with Your Mentors
Mentors (discussed in detail in Chapter 6) can play a very important role in your career. Not only can mentors offer you important career advice as you move up in the organization, but they can also become your advocate in higher levels of the organization—the levels that you don’t have direct access to.
Seek out a mentor who has organizational clout and is not shy about touting your merits to other decision makers. Even better, get the support of a number of powerful people throughout the organization. Be
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