Image converted using ifftoanyWe would all like to believe that the principles of meritocracy are upheld in our company and that our talent and hard work will get us ahead. After all, when we focused on our work in college and graduate school, we earned good grades and perhaps even honors. But now we’re in the workplace and using this same approach doesn’t get us very far. At best, our stellar performance only qualifies us for promotion. It doesn’t guarantee that we’ll be rewarded and recognized. We need to get real about what it takes to get ahead.

So what is the reality?

The reality is that it takes more than talent and hard work to get promoted. If you are ambitious, paying attention to the workplace dynamics is a necessity. Your observation of the workplace helps you successfully navigate the complexities of your organization, provides the information necessary to avoid potential landmines, and positions you for advancement.

The workplace is constantly changing. People come and go. New positions and loyalties are created and lost. Those who have power in the organization move into new roles with new responsibilities. They may lose their influence. What’s important to realize is that power and influence are never static. And if you keep your head down and don’t pay attention to what’s happening, you are vulnerable to power plays and missed opportunities. For example, you may be aligned with someone who has lost favor with senior leadership. Building an expansive network with key stakeholders can help you avoid this trap. Your observation of the dynamics helps you to identify these people.

What does it take to get real about getting ahead?

There are three main things you need to look for in your organization: The Power, The Rules, and The Culture.

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