Showcase your personality at work

Put yourself out there during company activities and parties. photo/storyblocks

What you need to know:

  • Go to procurement, sit there, learn something from their world

While in corporate, you want to have your ear on the ground. And spend some good time on the ground. I had a boss who always insisted that most of your time should be spent on the gemba. I say this, because as people grow in corporate, they lose touch on the ground. Always try to make decisions after you have been on ground. I was lucky that I spent some time in Innovation, it helped me connect to different people in the company. I associated with everyone, from the security guard to the top. I always had conversations with these people. You learn a lot from a casual conversation. And it is important that you are genuinely interested. 

Go to procurement, sit there, learn something from their world. Go have your tea from the finance section. Go have some fun with the people at the stores. Always meet people at their level. Again, like I said, remember every person you meet is a whole world. If you show interest in that world, they will let you in. 

Listen a lot. And be slow to respond. Someone once said; ‘if an auditor asks you for information, before you respond, be sure you are in position to answer the next five questions.’ Life in corporate is about perspectives. Always put yourself in the other party’s world. Understand their fears, their motivations, and respond accordingly. 

There will always be corporate fights, but most of them I found them amateurish. If you can avoid most, please do. Most are mere distractions. There were always people who loved to drop names. So someone can come and say; ‘the CFO says we should do this.’ You do not run around, you ask for an email confirming that, and then you read your policy. When shit is boiling, people in corporate are ready to leave you to boil alone. Always as much as possible, do the right thing. 

Always go to bed certain that you took the best decision and that you would take the same decision again and again. Always go to bed at peace with your decision. 
Every body kept playing different games. But most people play positional games, where they use their position to show you power. But you can always trim power cleverly. There are those who played distraction games. You know someone can ask you for a report they do not need. 
So I also learned to prioritise my emails. I had two major folders. A VIP list, this included my line manager and every other top person thereabout. Then I had my team, so everybody I worked closely with, procurement etc. In the morning, I prioritised these folders. The other emails could be replied in downtime. 

Again, some people in corporate are in the business of just sending email, so you must be disciplined and know which emails are really important. Corporate requires structure. You should know that some emails should be replied on the hour. 

Perhaps, I should say, far more than anything, always seek wisdom and understanding. Knowledge is important but there are doors it cannot open. Always be wise as a serpent. 
And well, also watch some movies about strategy. I loved Game of Thrones. Everybody could be your friend, everybody could be your enemy. And when you live this way, you are never surprised. 

That is the political element to corporate. But I say, at the end of the day, you should also be technically astute and you should be a likeable person. If you are a good person, you do not even have to overthink the corporate politics. Be a good human being, be technically great at what you do, and you will thrive. And in that formula, you add mentorship, sponsorship, and God’s wisdom! 

And I forgot, do not keep to yourself in corporate. If people are going for a drink, go attend it. There are many unsaid/unwritten rules in corporate, the quickest way to learn them is in these informal settings. That is when you learn that the Jane in procurement actually has a thing with Ben in HR. Attend those parties, and always learn. But also do not be robotic, be a natural at the game. 

And this thing could get quite longer, but also do more than your work. Have some of your personality come to work. Yes, people also promote people with a personality. If you can sing, sing a bit. Charm people, dance. If you can speak, be the company MC when opportunity arises, showcase your other talents. But again, do not over-do it. You must find the harmony between showcasing yourself and being annoying, aka tokisusa!
I have tried to dilute what I can remember, most things were intuitive....but especially for those fresh to corporate, it can be a nightmare...