Power Office Politics and a Career in The Office
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What are the possible underlying agendas of Davis and McDonald? Ans. Davis and McDonald are industry veterans who have grown from where Thomas has grown to their current positions, having spent multiple years understanding the ground realities. Thomas seems to have assumed that Davis has an underlying agenda against him because he opposed Davis publicly during the meeting. This bias could partly be coming from the fact that McDonald had warned Thomas about a possible fallout due to him not being the preferred choice for his current role. However, there appears to be no hidden agenda of a witch-hunt going on as Thomas would like to believe. Davis has constantly been giving Green feedback on what might come in handy for his new role. Davis, having been an account executive himself and having grown from that position to his current role of Marketing Director is likely to understand what might come in handy for Thomas in a role for which he has no prior experience. In fact, his advice on spending more time to prepare for client meetings does seem to hold some weight, since this is the feedback that market specialists have on his working style.
The only hidden agenda that Davis seems to have is to achieve the numbers projected for the year. His method of reconciling difference of opinions with Green, however, leaves much to be desired. McDonald had anticipated that Green would face issues adjusting to his new role and had rightly predicted a possible fallout between Davis and Green. However, based on her email, her agenda seems to be to understand both their point of views and bring them to common ground, while keeping the growth targets in mind. Q4. What actions, if any, would you take if you were Thomas Green? Ans. Green’s perception that politics predominates in his workplace is decreasing job satisfaction, morale and commitment and has increased his intention to find another job, possibly through contacting a head-hunter. Thomas needs to understand that now, at a senior level, politics is integral to his work and might not always have a negative connotation attached to it. His differences with Davis arise over their perceptions on what a realistic growth target is for the year 2008. Thomas believes that Davis has inflated the growth targets just to make Thomas look bad and use it as an excuse to get rid of him.
While this may or may not be true, Thomas needs to stop alienating his boss and should instead concentrate on trying to defuse interpersonal tensions by focusing on data and analysis, and explain to Davis why he might be expecting an unrealistic growth rate; ensure that his analysis is impeachable. It is quite possible that when he does this analysis, his own perceptions about feasibility of the projected targets would change. Secondly, Green needs to develop an ability to not get defensive or take things personally when others disagree with him or give him constructive feedback. Thomas has just seen a huge jump in his career and his self-esteem is at an all-time high. However, he needs to maintain humility and understand that the requirements of his new role would be different from anything he has seen so far. He has been advised to think strategically and tactically by McDonald and to back-up his meetings with solid data and develop fresh growth strategies or simply keep his team informed of his plans as by Frank.
He needs to consider it seriously and put in real effort towards these. Thirdly, Thomas needs to devise ways of measuring his success (for example, tracking the percentage of communication that flowed through him and how often decisions went his way). He had no documented proof of new or imaginative growth strategies or targets that he had worked on the past five months, which made his case look bad. He must make it a point to follow-through an all communication and requests from Frank and keep him updated about his plans so that there is a transparency in work progress. Another approach that Thomas can take is to make Davis his ally instead of opponent. He needs to be able to explain to Frank his point of view on growth strategies and how he plans to adopt them and then seek Frank’s point of view on the same. This would not only prove to Frank that Thomas has been putting in hard work into meeting his targets, it would also help their business relationship grow. He has been avoiding interactions with Davis during the time when he was independently working on his special software project and that did not help him in his review meeting later.
Thomas should ensure that he goes well-prepared to meeting and has good quality market-research and memos backing his claims so that his potential clients do not have any reservations about committing to him. Thomas also told people outside the group about how he did not agree with his boss’s projections for 2008. This is doubly harmful because firstly, he is not resolving the issue but merely venting out the frustration, which leads to no solution. Secondly, he must understand that it creates a negative impression about him as a professional and his organization and considering his boss must be equally well-connected, Frank would come to know of Green saying these things to outsiders, behind his back, which further worsens their relations. (This is probably what Frank was referring to when he stated Thomas must demonstrate a more positive attitude outside the company).