“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” – Matthew 10:16
You have to be smart and always cover yourself. You just never know what other people are capable of doing when they are under pressure, even if you feel in your heart they have your best interest. Do not look at the world with rose colored glasses. It is ugly outside, but you can do things that can mitigate some of these traps.
First, Save your Contacts. I always make copies of all the business cards I collect and I scan it into my Neat Business Card Scanner. You can buy this on Amazon.com. It saves the cards in an electronic file, so you can have access to them at any time, and it keeps you organized. So if your book gets stolen or your employer takes your phone, you will always have a way to contact them.
Secondly, keep a paper trail. I document everything. I do a recap of all my meetings and send it to the team via email. Any important discussion or concern, I have it in an email. You do not want to have the “he said, she said” battle. Be proactive. Sometimes, unavoidably, you’ll encounter a particularly difficult person. If that’s the case, it’s unfortunate but necessary to keep records in case the situation escalates or winds up in HR. Again, keep it to yourself. But if it comes down to it, having accurate records may be essential to making an appropriate case.
Third, review your Employer Contracts with a Lawyer, especially if you are a top producer. Make sure you understand what you are signing. Know the ins and outs of everything. Ensure you are protected financially. Negotiate better terms if it is not in your favor. Again, know your worth. Do not be afraid to push back and let them know where they need to meet you half way. It’s not a one sided partnership. Contracts should be a win-win for both sides.
Lastly, understand “Corporate Politics.” Whether we want to admit or not, office politics play a part in most organizations. You need to observe and discern which players within your organization have “pull”, and do not burn bridges with them. There were times when I really wanted to give someone a piece of my mind, especially since I know they were wrong, but I always kept it tactful. You might think it would feel good to “put someone in their place,” but it comes at a steep price. You will likely be viewed as unprofessional and difficult, which can affect your future promotions or get in the way of your team working with you to make things happen for your clients when you need it most. Lobby for the respect and trust of all your colleagues, including those at the lowest level. Create strong alliances by sharing credit for successes and delivering on your promises. Avoid gossiping or venting at all costs. Gossiping or mudslinging can only damage your own credibility. When you are upset or frustrated, wait until you’ve calmed down to express your concerns. Be direct but tactful. Focus on the black and white facts. This was something I had to work on over the years, especially with women, we like to vent. Keep the emotions out of it, at least try to. But, please remember to stay true to yourself. There are those who’ll do anything to “win,” but on the whole, character and credibility will eventually prevail. Don’t give in to the temptation to play underhanded games to rise through the ranks. People may have stolen my money, my credit, even my sanity at times, but they never took my integrity and character, which is something I am extremely proud of. At the end of the day, no one can say anything bad about me, because I learned mastering the art of corporate politics. And if a potential employer contacts them, they have nothing to say but great things about me, because not only did I excel in my roles, but I always did what was right, fair, and just.
Excerpt from my book The Ugly Side of Sales