The ability to identify the forces at play in an organization and the key relationships that make things happen does not always come naturally. Sure, there are those who are natural “political animals,” who seem to be 3 steps ahead of everyone else and always are “in” with the power players and up-and-comers. But for most people, organizational awareness is something that seems to be a bit nebulous and hard to grasp.
First, what is Organizational Awareness? It is a Social and Emotional Intelligence competency that can also be defined as situational awareness, or even empathy on an organizational scale. It is the ability to read social and political currents in organizations, teams, communities, and situations.
When your skills in Organizational Awareness are strong, you are able to detect crucial social networks, power relationships, guiding values, political forces and organizational norms. When these skills are weak, you may find it difficult to get things done in the organization, find yourself surprised by organizational events, make mistakes due to misunderstanding the organizational structure, or act in ways that the organization, team or community find inappropriate.
Here are some tips to increase your Organizational Awareness skills:
- Identify ways that being “tuned in” can help you be successful and get things done.
- Identify and get to know people who influence policies, decisions, and activities.
- Research the history of your organization (or team or community).
- When colleagues talk about people they view as effective, or ineffective, listen carefully.
- Identify those who have risen rapidly or been successful, and identify their characteristics and behaviors.
- Get to know people who have risen rapidly, and learn from them how they have become successful.
- Have informal conversations with co-workers and get their perspectives on how things get done.
- Figure out why new initiatives get turned down, and the behaviors or actions that will gain support for initiatives.
- Recognize the informal structures, procedures and practices that support getting things done.
- Identify “influencers” and get to know them and how they operate.
- Listen to what’s going on at an organizational level, and demonstrate your commitment to organizational success.
If you’d like to measure your own Organizational Awareness skills and other Social and Emotional Intelligence competencies, please contact us to arrange an assessment and your personal S+EI profile.