What helps people to get ahead at work? Four skills
Research tells us that it’s about people skills – being able to build, maintain and use relationships to achieve outcomes at work. I call this skill organisational savvy.
So what is organisational savvy? And how can you get better at it?
Published research tells us that there are four components to organisational savvy; the first is about reading body language and feelings and trying to work out people’s unspoken agendas.
If you want to get better at it, practise. Next time you’re in a meeting, pick one person to watch. Observe their body language. Listen to the tone of their voice. And try to work out what they are not saying. The more you do this, the more socially astute you will become.
This is the extent to which you’re willing to change your style to meet the needs of different people. Are you the same with everyone? Or do you take a gentler approach with some people and become more assertive with others? People who pride themselves on being consistent – on being the same all of the time – tend to be less influential.
So think about adapting your style for different audiences.
You already probably don’t act the same in front of your in-laws as you do with your closest friends. So apply the same rule to the colleagues and customers you deal with too. Be the person they want you to be.
Networking for diversity
We all know that it’s important to have a network of contacts, advisors and friends to support you. But it’s not only how many contacts you have – it’s also about their diversity.
Say two people John and Jane both have 100 contacts each. John’s contacts are within 40 different companies. But Jane’s contacts are in 60 different companies. Chances are that Jane will have access to more new, different information, advice and other resources than John.
How dispersed is your network? Could it be more diverse?
Demonstrable sincerity and integrity
The fourth component of organisational savvy is about being demonstrably sincere. Without being able to show your sincerity and integrity, you could get labelled political or manipulative.
But it’s not good enough if you feel that you have integrity and good intentions. Intentions are invisible. You need to demonstrate your intentions by constantly explaining your actions.
Never assume people know why they should do what you ask of them. Take the time to explain, explain, explain why your suggestions and recommendations are good for the team and organisation. Use the word ‘because’ a lot and often.
Onwards and upwards
To find out exactly how you score on each of the four components of organisational savvy, take a look at ‘Chapter 5. Winning the Race’ in my book How To Win: The Argument, the Pitch, the Job, the Race (Capstone).
And you can watch me talking about the science of winning arguments on TV too.