How To Play Corporate Politics Without Losing Your Soul (part 3)

Accent Reduction

“I want to recommend to my manager that one of my direct reports should be put on a performance review, with the possibility of separation. However, I am afraid that my manager might use my recommendation against me at a future date, either during my review or my efforts at promotion. How can I make sure my manager doesn’t move against me?”

Here is a truism of business life: nobody cares about your career more than you do. To put it bluntly: if others have to cause you harm in order to help themselves, there is a better than 50% chance they will. After all, when it comes to keeping your job, relationships with colleagues take second or third place.

You can help protect yourself against the situation described above with my third suggestion: ask your manager for their advice on handling the situation you face.

In this case, you would ask your manager, “What steps have you taken when you have put someone on review, and are considering separating them from the company?”

There are two possible immediate outcomes:

  1. Your manager will helpfully give you examples from their own experience.
  2. Your manager will avoid directly answering your question.

Guess which manager you want to continue working for? That is right, the first one! Include some or all of their advice when you make your recommendation about your direct report. Follow up your discussion with your manager with an email to them that outlines the advice your received (see part 1 of this series).

Now your manager is on record as having contributed to and supported your efforts. They have ‘skin in the game’, as the saying goes. The likelihood of you being mistreated or harmed for your efforts is close to zero.

Regarding manager number two: if they continue to avoid answering your questions directly, plan your escape as soon as possible. They are signaling that they are only concerned about themselves, and will not lift a finger to help with your career.

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