Navigating your way through corporate culture


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  • Friday, 30 Jun 2017

Admit it or not, territory management does exist at the workplace

AT SCHOOL and university, we were all taught various subjects.

Some of us apply the knowledge from these subjects in our daily work lives, and some of us don’t.

But we are all the better for it and that is why education is a wonderful thing.

However, there are three subjects that they never taught us when we were students – organisational politics, people management and territory management.

Before I elaborate on the latter, let’s discuss the first two subjects.

There is no syllabus for organisational politics and people management; ask any good leader, and he will say that working is more about the human effect rather than the technical fundamentals.

One chief executive officer whom I bump into regularly at the shopping mall always says to me, “Technicals are only for a while but after that, it is all about communication and consensus.”

Some people are excellent inspirational leaders who also know how to play company politics, with those who are just good at playing company politics and rely on know-who rather than know-how.

Territory management (and I am not talking about geography or sales) is about the cliques and relationships that exist at our places of work.

Many people are very territorial about their workplace relationships, especially if a certain someone is their boss or is in a position of power, but they are never too keen to admit it.

This usually exists in large organisations, and I am not writing this from an academic management perspective but more so from a person who has no energy to deal with people’s insecurities these days.

“Please do not liaise with that boss, only so-and-so is allowed to do that.”

“Do not even bother asking for an appointment to see that boss because so-and-so will try and block that meeting.”

“Do not ever say that person’s idea is bad because you will get smothered by all his boys, and you are also asking for career assassination.”

I know many of you are laughing as you read this because, unfortunately, this is so true and it exists at certain workplaces.

This is not an Asian or Malaysian thing, but just a part of workplace culture.

However, most of the time, nobody wants to talk about it or even admit territory management does exist within the company.

Most people will admit that politics occurs and certain people are always trying to become a leader, but nobody will map out the territories for you.

Maybe because it would be such an awkward conversation, but if someone explained it to me, I would be extremely grateful. I would know how to navigate myself a lot better around my large company.

For those of you who see the “territories” that are being built all the time, I would encourage you to say something like, “Come on, this is not how good ladies and gentlemen talk to or treat each other.”

A good friend of mine recently told me what happened when he tried to induct one of the young executives who had just recently started work at the same company.

My friend said to the young squire, “Would you now like me to explain about our company’s territory management?”

The young person just said, “Its ok, boss. Thank you. I know where the toilet is.”

Let the learning begin.

This is the final column for Ben Ibrahim and Different Spin. Ben can be contacted on twitter @benibrahim Or Instagram @benibrahim_

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