Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women On Business writer
Last week I talked about the importance of political savvy. One big component in being savvy is to understand the roles of the key people who make and influence decisions in your company or organization. This is a practice that can also be applied to your clients.
When you have a project or idea to move forward, there are several key questions to think about at the outset –
- Who are the organizational and project decision-makers and where do they stand on the issue?
- What do they have to gain, personally and professionally, from the success of your initiative?
- What people in your organization influence these decision makers?
- How do the influencers feel about ideas you want to present, and why do they hold that opinion?
— From Breaking Into the Boys’ Club 2009
Thinking through the answers to these questions will enable you to become more effective in your organization. And, once you have identified these decision-makers and influencers, think further about each individual, their rank in the organization, and your relationship to them.
- Who outranks whom?
- Who do you know well?
- If you don’t know the key influencer, who do you know who knows him or her?
Be clever in determining who impacts on your success. Use your powers of observation to map out who plays golf or goes to lunch with whom, which employees an executive has brought on board from a former company, and, the ultimate bond, who went to school together. Then develop your strategy for seeking out the key players and building relationships with them. Taking the time to do this “up front” work will pay off as you push forward to get approvals on projects and initiatives. By analyzing, understanding, and connecting with the key players, you are giving yourself a higher probability of success in reaching your goals.
So, let’s say you have just been given a new project and you want to flex some political savvy in order to be successful in your endeavor. The following steps should help you get there!
Steps to a Successful Initiative
- Step 1: Uncover background information and history that may impact your project
- Step 2: Analyze who stands to gain – and lose
- Step 3: Float the idea by key players to gauge reaction, get input and gain support
- Step 4: Determine who the real decision-maker is
- Step 5: Find out what he or she will personally and professionally gain from success
- Step 6: Establish who influences the decision-maker
- Step 7: Find out what the influencers’ individual positions are and who knows them
- Step 8: Develop a plan for addressing the decision-maker and each key influencer
- Step 9: Listen to others’ thoughts and ideas and make appropriate adjustments to the concept
Once you’ve thought about all the players who will have an impact on the success of your idea – and their agendas – you will be able to take steps to move forward and on your initiative. Remember, knowledge is power. Give it a try and see how it works for you. And let us know of your successes!