intra-agency politics…do they matter?

The headline to this post sounds a fair bit ridiculous and completely out of place on this blog. The post is better than the headline, I promise. And there is no attempt to give actual advice, either.

The question springs from a situation that recently arose here at the Official Agency of Biz. As the financial picture for the agency worsened earlier this year, it looked like layoffs were imminent…a friend of mine, who was a fine worker but perhaps not the best at their position in the agency, was very concerned that she was on the chopping block.

To ruin the ending, she was.

A lower middle level worker who had been at the agency approaching five years – making her the agency equivalent of a car with 300,000 miles on the odometer (and not in any sexual way, though that could be a follow-up post…) – and having seen a lot of changes, including a wholesale change in the agency’s executive leadership and in her account’s leadership, she was continually worried that she was “old school” and “didn’t have any political cover.” And because of those reasons, she thought, she was certain for the chop.

It was an interesting redirection on the “last in, first out” theme.

And an especially interesting stance considering that there were more than a few hires at her level who were very new (under a year) and had been hired by the old executive team.

Apparently, her specific lack of internal political allies was going to mean the end of her time at the Official Agency of Biz.

Of course, she was laid off in the end. And the other more recently hired people were not.

So did it have to do with the fact that she had no political cover? Or was it simply because she wasn’t fully funded by agency accounts and wasn’t good enough to push another person at her level off of their account and into unemployment?

Not having been included in any of the decision-making process it is impossible to tell…but if I were to take a guess, and if I weren’t what would be the point of all the finely crafted build-up, but at the lower middle levels how do politics really matter?

I can certainly see how boardroom and holding company politics can determine who makes it to the C-level suites, but it is a real leap to think that there is much beyond performance and luck that is going into the layoff decision of someone at the lower levels. Sure, had she been on a different account that could have fully funded her position, perhaps she wouldn’t have been let go. Perhaps she was equal in terms of performance with someone with her job title on another account and she would have kept her job if her luck was better.

But was it because she had no political air cover?

Hardly. It was a fatal mix of lack of billability, performance compared to peers and simple bad luck. The balance of which is probably most clear to those who did her performance review (and is something that I don’t pretend to know).

A bummer, but hardly because she was “too old school” or “didn’t have anyone senior who had her back.”

Not that I wouldn’t try my hardest to make sure I have senior level support…


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