Think the person with the biggest office is running the show at work? It may surprise you to find out that it isn’t always the impressive title and the fat salary that makes things happen in the workplace. In order to succeed, it is helpful to find out who the “behind the scenes” people are and who the actual decision-makers and people are who have the ability to promote or kill ideas or projects. Here are some tips for deciphering the social strata at work and figuring out who really makes things happen…
Start by asking yourself who seems to always know what’s going on–there are certain people who are always in on decisions and know just exactly what is up–you could say they are “in the loop.” These people have power and influence in the workplace based on the fact that they have a great deal of information and obviously are well-connected to the powers that be. Also take at look at who people go to for answers and who is obviously respected by your other coworkers. Even if this person (or people) don’t seem to have the titles or obvious positions of power on the flow chart, it is still advantageous to understand how they fit into the big picture and influence workplace politics.
Also take a look at who seems to be “moving up” in the company or corporate culture. Someone who is on the rise and getting promotions or additional responsibilities and kudos is obviously gaining power and influence. It is a good idea to identify and befriend individuals who have mastered the workplace well enough to be moving up the ladder. These people have increasingly expanding influence.
If you’re still having a hard time figuring out how the unwritten hierarchy is situated–look at things like who organizes and conducts the meetings, who is sending out the important e-mails and memos, and who seems to be involved in making the key or major decisions. These are the individuals who are influencing the future of the organization and the overall culture of any given workplace.
As you identify who the key players are based on what is actually happening and how work is getting done, you’ll be able to adjust your own style and work efforts to fit. Finding ways to interact with these individuals and gain knowledge and information is one way to start to get a better, first-hand understanding of how the company operates. It is really a form or way of cultivating these key players in order to make sure that you are being affective and strategic in your own work.