Explore key issues to advocate and when and how.
- Here's my assumption. You have something you want to accomplish. You're trying to push the team forward, help the company be successful and secure your next promotion. That's the big picture. Now, in the more immediate operational sense, what is it you're working on to advance that agenda? Not your normal list of ongoing tasks but what else? Is there a project or policy you're advocating for, a potential change coming that you sincerely wish to oppose or maybe a proverbial elephant in the room that really needs to be discussed? In order to advance, you have to spend time thinking about the array of issues that matter around you beyond your normal list of duties.
You've gotta be clear about the changes, the innovations, the special projects and so on that are underway or might soon be underway. How will they affect you? Should you be involved? Once you answer those questions, you're faced with how to support your decisions while working with your colleagues every day. You can't just walk into every meeting, show them your agenda and expect complete support. No, you have to read the room and determine more strategically when it's a good time to speak up and when it's not.
So let's start thinking about other people's agendas. We all face limited resources especially in terms of money, time and personnel. You need clarity about various competing agendas. Good news, most people you see in meetings are quite passive. They focus on their current work. They don't advocate for much and frankly, they just seem to go with the flow and try to support the group. In contrast, a minority of your colleagues will have very clear agendas. You're likely to see three main types.
The first is an agenda that isn't related to the things you're working on at all. So no need to worry and in fact, you might be able to gain a few political chips by positively advocating for them when they speak up about their work. The second type is someone with an agenda that meshes well with yours and they want you to succeed. For example, say you're an accounting manager and you're pushing for a huge update to the old enterprise software that the organization uses. Your colleague and IT manager might love this because she knows that the new enterprise software will increase her power and budget.
So it's likely she'll support your effort. The final type is those with agendas that are in conflict with yours. Maybe there's an operations manager with years of success running a low tech approach inside the company's warehouses. He's built up his own system over the years and doesn't want a bunch of new controls placed on him by the new software. Well, you might not expect his support. Okay, here's my advice. Get past personalities and don't take things personal.
Learn to gain comfort logically assessing the competing agendas that surround you. When you do, you'll make better decisions helping push your agenda forward.