Protect Your Flanks

“Protect Your Flanks” is a chapter in my newly published THE UNFORCED ERROR.   I gave it quite a lot of thought before I decided whether or not to feature it in the book, but in the end, felt it was too critical a topic to omit.

protect-flanks

That’s because all organizations have some sort of office politics, no matter how much you (and I) might hate the thought. According to author and career expert Dr. Kathleen Reardon, people with “political savvy, agility in the use of power, and the ability to influence others will go further.”

That’s why it is so important to protect your flanks.   

You need to use all of your contacts within the organization to be sure no one is bad mouthing you to your boss. I have seen this scenario play out countless times and it is never pretty. In fact, it’s downright unethical and even immoral. What right does one person have to play with your career and your livelihood? Yet it happens every day in almost all organizations of every size. You have to have enough contacts and be plugged in to the company grapevine or you risk having the rug pulled out from under you before you know that you’re standing on one. How do you do this?

Seek out people in the organization. If you do not make friends, at least make acquaintances. And don’t limit it to  people in your own department or work area. It could be people in other departments that have the ear of your boss.  Perhaps you made an enemy without even knowing it, or perhaps people are just jealous of your success. Regardless of the specific circumstances, you have to establish a friendly, informal network within the organization so that you are not the last to know that you are in the doghouse—and possibly on your way to the poorhouse if you get canned.

One other piece of advice is more straight forward. Talk to your boss on a regular basis. Ask her if there are things you can be doing to help her make her goals—and the goals of the division. And do not wait for a performance review to find out what things you can do to raise the level of your game. These informal conversations will provide ample opportunity for your boss to let you know if there is a problem or any other issue that may have a profound affect on your future.

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