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Managing Organisational Stakeholders & Networks

Alliances, Allies & Antagonists in Organisations

Mastering the art of organisational politics is a critical skill that can significantly impact your success in a new job. Regardless of your emotional intelligence or collaborative abilities, you cannot escape the intentions and agendas of others. These intentions may range from seeking to align themselves with you, to engaging in subtle tactics aimed at undermining you in the long run.

Although the subject of organisational politics can carry a negative connotation, it's important not to dismiss it outright by proclaiming that you'll "simply focus on doing a good job". Unfortunately, that approach may fall short of ensuring the success you aspire to achieve. Experience has shown that even well-intentioned individuals can become ensnared in power plays and hidden agendas.

So, how can you navigate this complex landscape?

I firmly believe that there are three essential stages you must go through to prepare yourself for the intricacies of managing stakeholders and organisational politics and to ultimately secure the outcomes you desire.

1. Understand the Organisations goals and priorities:

Research the organisation's goals, priorities, agendas, and investments. Developing a deep understanding of the firms focus is your first step toward effective navigation.

This step is about aligning your efforts with the bigger picture. By understanding the organisation's priorities, you can strategically position your activities to contribute to these priorities, gaining support from key stakeholders.

2. Navigate the Networks and Influencers:

Gain insights into the real influencers, those who drive agendas through their chatter, collaboration and tactics. These people may not be the senior leaders and therefore exert a disproportionate level of influence. Align this insight with gaining an understanding of the actual senior players and who amongst this group exerts the most influence over the organisations priorities.

You can then identify informal networks by observing who interacts with whom during meetings and social events. You may also notice that some colleagues are frequently sought out for advice.

Navigating networks involves identifying the informal power structures that can impact your projects. Building relationships with key influencers and stakeholders enables you to gain their support and insights, enhancing the success of your initiatives.

3. Take Strategic Action:

Engage in a cycle of action and review. Act on the insights you've gathered, evaluate the outcomes, refine your approach, and repeat the process.

This could simply be a combination of building trust, communicating your intent and developing relationships and rapport with people through finding common agendas and interests inside and outside of work.

Taking strategic action also involves proactively leveraging your insights. By aligning your actions with the organisation's goals, you showcase your commitment to its success, positioning yourself as a valuable contributor.

However, things will change and people will react differently to what you expect so be prepared to review your actions and reactions appropriately.

Managing Organisational Stakeholders & Networks - Another Take!

While these strategies may not be groundbreaking, they find their roots in ancient wisdom. Drawing parallels from Sun Tzu's "Art of War," it's evident that strategic approaches to dealing with people have been practised for centuries. Below, I've shared some insights from Sun Tzu's teachings, along with modern applications relevant to managing organisational stakeholders and the networks they reside in:

"In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak."

Sun Tzu's words highlight the importance of identifying vulnerabilities and seizing opportunities. In the context of organisational politics, focusing your efforts where you hold influence and leveraging your strengths can lead to favourable outcomes.

"The greatest victory is that which requires no battle."

This quote emphasises the value of diplomacy and negotiation over direct conflict. Navigating organisational politics, fostering alliances, nurturing relationships, and seeking common ground and collaboration can lead to success without unnecessary friction.

"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight."

Understanding when to engage and when to step back is pivotal in the world of organisational politics. Your ability to assess situations and strategically position yourself is essential for success. Don't ever think that you won't need to stand up and fight for what you believe in, as you will..... it's just knowing when to do this that is key.

Navigating the intricate realm of organisational politics requires a blend of timeless wisdom and contemporary insights. Through understanding, strategic action, and continuous adaptation, you equip yourself to thrive amidst the complex landscape of organisational politics.

Adrian Spencer - Coach & Mentor

Coaching and mentoring for new job success


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