CASE HISTORY: Cliff, a 36-year-old bond trader, had been assured by his boss that success in bringing into the firm two new institutional clients would be amply rewarded come bonus time. The two targeted institutions had been reluctant to do business for years, but there seemed reason to believe that this year the beginning of a business relation was possible. Cliff took to the challenge, and was successful: both started to trade. Though his boss had left the company, he expected that “the company” would view the situation similarly. Unfortunately, he was wrong: no one seemed to care. Cliff had made the error of thinking “company-wide” when the decision as to his bonus was nothing more than “desk-wide.” Cliff had confused (a) the interests of his boss with (b) the interests of the company. They’re totally different, sometimes even contradictory with each other.
THE LESSON TO LEARN: When negotiating at work, it’s vital to keep in mind precisely who you’re negotiating with. And precisely to whom you must show that you’re valuable. Because that’s the person, or pocket of power or profit, who will decide your success or failure at work.
These days, there’s no single, monolithic IBM, or Bank of America, or GE, or Colgate-Palmolive. Due to their enormous size, each company is effectively comprised of many different powerful groups and powerful people — fiefdoms, if you will — that somehow manage to co-exist, for whom everyone else really works. And the larger the organization, the more this is true. And over time, through mergers, acquisitions and the process of consolidation, more and more employers are larger and larger.
It’s critical that you know precisely who is your own Person or Pocket of Power or Profit (we call them “P.P.O.P.P.’s” for short). It is your own “P.P.O.P.P.” who will decide your compensation, promotions and career path. In times of workforce reduction, your “P.P.O.P.P.” will decide whether or not you’ll keep your job. Your “P.P.O.P.P.” is the “decision-maker” who will make all of the critical decisions about you. Who your “P.P.O.P.P.” is will be more important than the quality of your work when it comes to job security. You must be seen as a “Perception of Value” to your “P.P.O.P.P.” Otherwise, you’re dispensable.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: You must always think of, and appeal to, your P.P.O.P.P.’s perception of his, her or their own interests. He, she or they are your truest customer and client. He, she or they are your source of success and security on the job. Never forget that. Always remember to keep that in mind.
And it’s important to “diversify your P.P.O.P.P.’s,” as well. Your own P.P.O.P.P may disband, retire, die or lose its own powerful leader. If you lose your P.P.O.P.P., you become “an orphan on the tough streets of job insecurity.” Just as it’s important to diversify your savings and retirement portfolios, in order to minimize investment risk, it’s essential to “diversity your P.P.O.P.P.’s, too, to minimize career risk and maximize job security.