Personal failure of org savvy

Broader role, Geek 5

In the previous post, I presented a definition of organizational politics. One of the keys points is that you must be aware of the politics to spin them for positive uses and to not fall victim to them. Personally I have fallen prey to these issues. Specifically, I always believed that good work would be rewarded and the person with the best ideas would be listened to. The reality that I found was that I occasionally ran afoul of organizational politics, because I did not pay attention to them. Good ideas went unnoticed or even worse, other people got credit for my work.

In one case several years ago, I was in charge of a new project to test e-learning within our organization. At the time, the work was outside of my job description, but the Director of Training position was empty, so I was tasked with the work. I was excited about the project, because I had done significant e-learning work with my previous employers.

The company had no foundation for e-learning and the senior leaders put a tight timeline on getting a pilot going (so they could discuss it with the Board of Directors). I led a fabulous team and we accomplished a monumental task. We had to define the project, set a strategy, get buy in from various parts of the company, find vendors, determine technology (in a company with limited technology resources), plan a rollout, develop content and more. We accomplished great things and delivered a strong pilot.

Soon after the pilot launched, we hired a new Director of Training. All of the thought work was done and we had done and executed all of the very complex planning. I assumed that I would get credit for the success of the project, since I was the leader that did all of the heavy lifting. However, the new Director of Training was a better politician that I was. He also got to be the one to announce the metrics and indicators that proved that it was a good solution.

As I result, I started hearing about what a great job he had done, and the positive impact he made on the company. Everyone seemed to forget that all of the work was done and humming along by the time he came along. In hindsight, my mistake was that I did not do enough to toot my own horn and toot the horn of the team as we went along. I assumed that everyone knew what we were doing. I focused on the task and not the glory. As a result, I wasn’t automatically associated with the project and the success. I lost that battle of organizational politics. I performed as a leader, but I was not seen as a leader.

If I had taken into consideration that I needed to influence the organization and increase my power as the definition of organizational savvy states, I might have gotten more recognition. Fortunately I recovered from this goof.  If you have had similar oversights, you can recover too.

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