Three Ways to Get to Know the Hidden Organizational Chart within Your New Company
You walk into a new role with the organizational chart in hand and after a few short weeks you start to realize that what is written on paper is not what appears to be reality. Within every organization there are influencers. Influencers sit at different levels of an organizational chart and some wield enough power to sway those at the highest levels. Their influence may not be so apparent in their job titles, but everyone knows that if you want to get something done, you need to go to such-and-such.
These people are modern-day consiglieres. Chances are you had no idea how much power they had during your interview process, or that they existed. Now it’s the end of week two and it’s becoming apparent that some of your new co-workers or direct reports play larger roles than others.
According to Alex Bougeois, who penned an interesting piece on the subject for Medium.com, “To truly get under the skin of their business, leaders need to understand and acknowledge that alongside the formal organizational chart, there exists a complex web of social ties: the informal organization.”
You may be thinking, “This is all great information, but I need to get to know what’s what now so I can do my job.” Getting to know and understanding the current of influence within your new organization takes time. There are three actions you can take right now that put you on the path to success in your new role.
Consider your colleagues customers.
Regardless of the type of business you joined, it’s customary to focus first on learning the business, understanding its strategic focus, getting to know your customer base, and how you fit in the big picture. Yes, getting to know your colleagues is important, but do you regard them as your most important customers?
Legendary Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson first said that a company should treat its employees like their most loyal customers. Don’t leave this idea to HR, start applying this concept to each interaction with your employees or colleagues. If you start to focus on what value you can offer to your colleagues, the word will spread and confidence and trust in your abilities will grow.
Be curious and ask questions.
Being curious and asking the basic questions enables you to have rich conversations with employees at all levels. In an executive role, asking basic questions of younger or less experienced employees, will put them at ease and will give them the opportunity to share their expertise with you. In a group setting, be the person who asks questions when a presenter asks, “does anyone have any questions?” If you keep your questions basic, chances are you will mine better information and may quickly establish a reputation for being a good listener.
Lastly, asking questions will lead to a lot of smart answers and more information that gets volunteered, including insights that help you in understanding how decisions get made around the organization and who is behind them.
Get to know the types of Influencers that exist in your organization.
Rob Cross, a leading consultant and educator in the field of organizational network analysis, stated in a recent Forbes article that there are generally four types of influencers that exist in an organization: Mayors, Energizers, Bridges and De-Energizers.
Mayors know everyone in the organization, and everyone knows them. Energizers leave you feeling more energized after speaking with them. Bridges act as the connective tissue between difference groups or departments. And de-energizers are the points of resistance, as Cross calls them.
Before you write off the de-energizers, take note that many are full of good information and can be your go-to source when you need feedback on a plan or an idea. The de-energizers are very good at shooting holes in your plans and voicing barriers that may exist because they’ve experienced their fair share of frustrations. Understanding and reading between the lines of their frustrations may help you understand and adjust to the new reality that you find yourself in.
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