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Managing frailties in structures, systems and culture

/ 12:47 AM January 29, 2017

It’s been repeatedly said that opportunities happen when you’re supposedly at the right place at the right time. Some even rant that it’s really about direct access to who has the power and not necessarily about how much you’ve performed. The right connections provide the defining breakthroughs, so they say.  That is why there is value in networking like crazy.

Corporate politics is here to stay. With all our efforts to implement a performance management system that’s highly data driven, it’s still arguable that talents get truly appraised and assessed with 100% objectivity. Factors like ease of interface, frequency of encounters, historic affiliations and strategic mileage get thrown in the scorecard. The powerful voice, the arresting presence, the shared legacy and the gift of gab appear to have the edge when it comes to ascending the ladder of hierarchies.

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But how do we deal with strongholds in alliances that seemingly confine your personal progress? How does one make his mark when everything already appears to be filtered with reinforced impressions? How does one guard from being discouraged when the dynamics of railroading and factions come into play?

Actually, these very same scenarios can be ripe for heightening your worth when your focus on what needs to be done doesn’t get compromised. Word of mouth from clients whom you’ve served exceedingly well will strengthen your credibility in time and surpass internal machinations within your radius. The bigger environment has a bigger say in getting you within the spheres of relevance. This is where we need to be self-driven. To seek approval is normal. But to make your enthusiasm depend on it can get dangerous. Just let your track record for proven dependability speak for itself. The reward is in the personal fulfillment of the work itself, not always in its external validation.

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We also need to take intelligent risks. Worst scenario is when we’re just breeding a culture of order takers. We need to pick on each other’s brains. Of course, the risks should be calculated. If there’s an aftermath to manage, make the process growth inducing without sacrificing critical stakes in productivity. I’ve personally learned from my mentor, Maynilad President & CEO Ricky Vargas that one of the most difficult leadership skills is to manage exceptions without demeaning the intent of a policy. That’s akin to managing isolated cases that need to be treated differently without belaboring the rationale for a rule or standard. Truth be told, there are no books I can prescribe or seminars I can encourage you to attend that will make you excel in this practice. This is more of art than science, and it comes with being seasoned.

Sometimes, the worst kind of decision maker is one that hides his judgment call behind cold policy. This is not to undermine the importance of SOPs. Like a train to get to its destination, we have to travel on the tracks. Let there be order and sound internal controls. But to get too fixated to the point when we cease to be flexible and reasonable can be anti-growth. Bottom line: decisions are worth making and pursuing if they inarguably impact revenue generation, operational efficiency and customer experience while not violating ethical standards.

Of course, many may see this as a lofty ideal and claim that this is not really happening all the time. Reality check: We all have our frailties. But dare we not run out of steam to fire ourselves up with enough idealism to want meaningful change, whether the transformation process proves to be swift or herculean.  Losing focus is bad enough. But losing inspiration can be the ultimate tragedy.

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TAGS: Career, corporate politics, office politics
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