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By Mary T.
“The control of information is something the elite always does,
particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is
power. If you can control information, you can control people.” – Tom Clancy
people with whom you communicate in any organization often signifies the level
of information you will be able to obtain. In my daily work, in one
organization, I didn’t communicate above the manager/supervisor level unless I
was willing to make enemies and alienate myself from most other employees at my
level. Jumping over a supervisor was considered unacceptable and could be a
dangerous, career limiting, undertaking. Your flanks have to be protected when
having conversations over your boss’s head.
Patterns of Communication
The patterns of communication
were very fluid, however. Depending on who you knew, you could communicate at
any level, even up to the company president himself. If you had that privilege,
you only used it when absolutely necessary, however, he was open to receiving
emails, as long as they were sent at about 5:30AM, to avoid prying eyes of the
the mid 2000s, the primary mode of communication was email, (although, now text
messaging is the equivalent). However, back then, as is just as true now, phone
calls are far more effective. In person visits are best, but most people are too
lazy to get off their chairs and walk down the hall.
The email chains can get out of
hand and become accusatory and negative. It’s always best to check the origin
of the email before responding or to just start a brand new one. One colleague
refused to participate in the email wars. He simply walked out of his office
and into the office of the person he needed to talk to. The emails then could
not be used against him, should any issue backfire.
Most often, breakdowns happen when
people are very inexperienced, or just incompetent in their work; or when
people have agendas that have nothing to do with the effort at hand.
The Wild West
In some organizations, the
atmosphere is very Wild West. If you are well connected, you will get information
and data. If you have not worked to cultivate your network and your sources,
you will be the last to know vital details about the company and its functions,
and maybe the first to be laid off.
A Positive Ethos
Often, it’s VPs and the President
that exemplify a positive ethos. It seems the in-between level of management is
the most self-serving. This level is the most important level to focus on cultivating
allies, and it is also the most dangerous, because, they will do anything to
get to the VP level, even betraying long standing friendships.
Best Self Perception
In many organizations, at the
worker level, you may see people with more accurate self-perceptions. Often, many
at the higher levels are just disconnected and delusional.
Mary T. O’Sullivan,
MSOL, PCC, SHRM-SCP
Mary T. O’Sullivan, Master of Science Organizational Leadership, International Coaching
Federation Professional Certified Coach (ICF-PCC), Society of Human Resource
Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). Graduate Certificate in
Executive and Professional Coaching, University of Texas at Dallas. Member Beta
Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society. Advanced Studies in Education
from Montclair University, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University. Mary is also a
certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and holds a Certificate
in Essentials of Human Resource Management from SHRM. Mary is also an ICF
certified Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner, and a Certified EQi-2.0 and EQ360
O’Sullivan has over 30-years’ experience in the aerospace and defense industry.
In each of her roles, she acted as a change agent, moving teams and individuals
from status quo to new ways of thinking, through offering solutions focused on
changing behaviors and fostering growth. In addition, Mary holds a permanent
teaching certificate in the State of New York for secondary education and
taught high school English for 10 years in the Syracuse, NY area. Today, Mary
dedicates herself to helping good leaders get even better through positive behavior