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Balance your professional equations
Manish Purang
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November 10, 2008

After Chemistry and Mathematics, if I were to pick one place where equations play a major role, my choice would be professional office spaces. Yes, within the confines of our daily work places.

The only difference between the academic equations and the ones being referred to within the office space is the change in variables or constituents of the equations -- bosses, peers and various colleagues replacing chemicals and numbers.

The basic rules, however remain the same.

For instance, the results you get are invariably dependant upon how various constituents react.

Be it your equation with your boss, your boss's boss, immediate peers, colleagues working in other departments of the company or the guard who waves to you in the office everyday -- equations affect and matter everywhere.

But why are equations in the offices so important?

The answer can be found in the highly people-driven societies that the workplace has come to be. These days, you do not work alone and may get involved with umpteen number of people within the organisation. Interactions with so many people are bound to leave as many impressions. It is these impressions that can make or break one's efforts as opinions float around easily in these ever so connected confines.

It isn't hard, therefore, to fathom that having good equations with everyone is in one's own interest.

So, if you strike the right chord with your boss, chances are that you'd find yourself in good stead. If not, you could be asking for trouble.

However, the buck doesn't stop at the boss only. You would also need to be aware of the equations of other people with your boss. A budding manager, in spite of her hard work, wasn't finding the commensurate payback for her efforts from her boss. On digging deeper, it was found that she had unknowingly offended the head of another department who happened to be quite close to her boss.

If you deal with other departments of your organisation regularly for your work, the success of the task at hand may depend upon how various people construe you and your team. Having good equations with those teams may ease your task. Others would only be happy to work for your interests.

However, if the equations are not good, you may have to fight a lonely battle. But in spite of that, your boss may be sympathetic to you, if you are on good terms with her, even if you fall short of targets, knowing the equations the other team has with your team.

This also extends to the feedback about you, that your boss might seek from others. Keeping good company and more importantly a halo of positives around you is bound to improve the ratings you get in your next appraisal. That would show that you are able to handle the aspirations and expectations of various people, which is an important trait in a people-driven office.

Knowing then that equations are so important, how does one get to remain on the right side of the law?  

One way is to keep your eyes and ears open for any signs of deteriorating relations or appearances of slag in the broth that is cooked up every day in the office.

Check up on the office grapevine doing the rounds every once in a while. These are important sources of the prevailing undercurrents.

Senior team members or those who have been around for quite some time in the organisation are also good sources of internal dynamics. Popping quick and harmless queries before embarking on any endeavour would help get the lowdown of existing power centres within the organisation.

Information gleaned from such sources helps set proper expectations right from the start of the task. You'd know whether you can expect positive contributions from certain quarters in the office or not and thereby direct efforts appropriately.

Brush up your PR skills and keep others' interests in mind while you ask or provide for requests at work.

And finally nothing beats sticking to the tasks at hand without indulging in the politics of the workplace. After all, in the long run, a clean record looks far more appealing than a tarnished image.

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