Who do you need to succeed? Know who makes the decisions!
November 29, 2010
Know who can say “Yes!” and who can only say “No!”
In almost every organization, or community, there are a few key people who really make the decisions. They are the ones who sign the checks, influence the community, and hold the real power. I have found that usually there are usually less than a dozen people, usually five or six, who control any organization. Even in large organizations, like a major city, if you want to get something done, there are only a few people who can approve your project. There are many people who are able to say no, but only a handful who can ultimately say yes.
Take finding a job, for example. There are filters at every level.
- All applications must be submitted online because then the computer can screen for a few key words. Thereby eliminating many of the applications that were submitted.
- HR has people in place to review the applications that make it through the computer filters. They look for typos, relevant skill sets, and experience in similar jobs. They eliminate the obviously unqualified.
- There are people who perform online searches for the candidates. HR is very careful not to invade someone’s “privacy”, but they still find you online. That eliminates people who have skeletons and/or inappropriate things posted about/by them.
- HR has another group that takes the “best qualified” from this group and does the initial screening. Sometimes by phone, sometimes via electronic methods like email. They begin to ask questions and listen for the “Red Flags”, the nuances that enter into speech and writing that reveal “flaws” in our character, etc. Enter the first level of psychobabble. (There are several after this, but you know what I mean.) More candidates eliminated.
- HR then arranges for the first wave of face-to-face interviews. These are usually professional interviewers who understand body language, emotional issues, vocal tonality, etc. They are looking for the things that reveal deeper issues that may have gotten past the process so far. Things like latent anger with your previous boss, a predilection to work only when the task interests you, a lack of initiative (or too much initiative), etc. This usually cuts the field of candidates down to a “manageable level”.
- Then maybe, you get to talk with a hiring manager.
Lots of filters, (people who can only truly say no) and only a few who ultimately can say yes.
In the process of working through all of the filters, you waste a lot of time and energy. It’s important to find the people who can say yes and spend your efforts talking with them.
So, how do you get in front of the real decision makers? Great question!
There are hundreds of people selling the answers to that question. Some of their answers even work! I will give you a couple of hints that I have picked up over the years. Using a medium sized city as the example…
- Ask the Realtors, “Who really pulls the strings in this community?”
- Look for the person that the elected official goes to when they want to find out, “What’s going on around here?” and “How do we get things done in this department/agency, etc?”
- The person who really controls things is usually one, or two levels below the appointed/elected office.
- Explain to the local Shop and Restaurant Owners that you know that there are probably five or six “Pillars of The Community” who really run the town, and ask them who they think the pillars are in their town. (You might be surprised at how many people give you the same list of names!)
- Find out who owns the largest farms, businesses, and has the most to lose if the city “does something stupid”. They have a vested interest in being involved in the community.