We can all remember the teacher’s pet in school, or the guy that always turned up first to every lecture and University and took up his seat bat the front. Once you are into graduate jobs, you will also see people who appear to mingle more overtly with ‘the management’. Due to our earlier experiences in such as school and University, this is often frowned upon as a bit ‘them and us’.
If you are in graduate jobs and you have plans or indeed ambitions to move on up, I suggest you discard any such perceptions right now. If you are actively trying to ‘get in’ with the senior people, you may imagine it’s a little artificial to befriend a manger, whether it inviting them for a round of golf, a game of squash, or a good old fashioned pint at the bar whilst on conference. What you need to remember is that they too, are just people like you, perhaps a little bit older, more experienced and better paid, but essentially they too have families, hobbies and a more personal side, including the need for social stimulation.
When I started out as salesman, like all of my peers, I felt a reluctance to be seen to mingle with anyone driving a bigger car than I was. After a couple of years I began to look for a route into sales management. If was tough, lots of people, all very capable, going for the same roles. I got knocked back form the first few roles to which I applied, no particular negative feedback.
One week, we were away on conference and I had the opportunity to play golf and ended up, by chance, paired up with a senior manager. After a few holes we discovered many common interests such as squash, children the same age and generally got along very well. I soon forgot the fact that his car was much bigger than mine!
After this, the company restructured and I was offered a management role in front of many other hopefuls, who on the face of it, were of a similar experience and ability as myself. The recruiting manager was the gentlemen I had played gold with the month previous, my new boss!
On this occasion, this occurrence was anything but manufactured. I hadn’t played golf to try and get promoted, and he hadn’t promoted me because he played golf with me. However, the occasion had given as both to chance to understand each other on a deeper level. On making his recruitment decision, he felt more comfortable with myself because he had a greater understanding of what makes me tick. This is, of course, human nature, we are far more comfortable with things we know than things we don’t.
In retrospect, the moral here is to cast off any concerns you may have about appearing to hob nob with your seniors even if you are in junior graduate jobs. Don’t go out of your way to muscle in with them but on the same token, don’t keep out of their way. If opportunities present treat them like the people they are without concern for their position. If you are serious about progressing within an organisation, ability alone will not achieve this, you will need to build good social network at all levels to achieve the credible profile you need to gain promotion.
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