Office Politics: How Would You Solve This Puzzle?

Navigating Office Politics

managing out blog imageHere is a case study in office politics. After years of success and several promotions within a rapidly growing technology company, Sally achieved an important goal. She was promoted to the role of Chief Marketing Officer, a first for the company. Because she joined the company when there were less than 10 employees, she was well positioned to appreciate their history and share in some of the credit for the company’s newfound competitive success.

What Sally struggled with though, was the ability to influence her peers. She had always been reticent about taking credit for her work. Learning how to take credit without feeling like a jerk was still somewhat new to her. She recognized that speaking up about well-thought out ideas would be necessary when she joined in meetings with the Senior Vice President of Sales, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Senior Vice President of Human Resources. The company was experiencing growing pains, had a decidedly informal business-casual culture, and was struggling with important budgetary decisions.

At her first meeting with her new peers at the C-suite level, she was excited but nervous about presenting marketing and branding ideas that she felt strongly about. Before she had an opportunity to present ideas that she knew would grow revenue and engage the target market the company sought, the Chief Technology Officer cut her off. He stated in rather hostile terms that he thought marketing was fluff, and therefore an unnecessary expense. Given that Marketing was becoming more technology-driven, Sally knew that having the CTO on her side was critical.

Deflated and discouraged, Sally decided to primarily listen and observe in this meeting. She asked her peers, including the CTO, questions about priorities, budget, opportunities, and concerns.


What should Sally do next?

What could she have done differently before the meeting?


What should Sally do next? What could she have done differently before the meeting?

Here are some options. Choose the top three options you think are most important, and then put them in order of the sequence that Sally could take next.

  1. Find out what competitive market strengths and weaknesses the CEO is most concerned with in the next one to three years
  2. Talk to the CEO and demand that your position be given more authority over IT decisions
  3. Put together a list of the three strategic marketing initiatives that would get the best return on investment for the company
  4. Offer to take the CTO to an industry event on how Technology and Marketing can work together effectively
  5. Talk to each member of the executive team and learn their goals and chief concerns, looking for common ground before presenting ideas
  6. Establish an understanding of the CTO’s concerns and resources, and negotiate the most effective use of his teams’ time for marketing initiatives

Tell us the top three options that you think will help Sally get better results in this situation. Tell us the order of the steps you would advise her to take, and why.

Click here to tell us how you would advise Sally. Subject Line: Sally’s “Managing Out” Puzzle

Do you have an office politics puzzle? Tell us your puzzle via email (in 300 words or less) and we’ll try to help.  For confidentiality purposes, we won’t use real company names or the names of actual people. Subject Line: Office Politics Puzzle