“What Do They Mean When They Say…?”

Your Work is Excellent, But…

In my work with professional women of color, the question I am most consistently asked is “what do they mean when they say..?  It is almost always in reference to their performance evaluation or goal setting discussion.

Just what do they mean when they say, “your work is excellent, but…

• You’re not politically savvy
• Your leadership skills need strengthening
• You’re not a team player
• You’re not good fit

There are dozens more, I’m sure. In fact, drop me a note and share with me, if you will, some of your “your work is excellent, but…” stories.

For now, we’ll take a look at one of the most common comments: not being politically savvy.

What do they mean when they say you’re not politically savvy? Well could it mean a number of things, but almost every time I heard this from a client, she was someone who worked very hard and had developed good technical skills. However she had a low threshold for office politics and little regard for the titles and roles of management, executive leadership and other key stakeholders.

These women were focused solely on the work and meeting deadlines, not on forging relationships or paying attention to their image or how they were perceived within the organization.

Now, to a person every one of the women I heard this from said, “I don’t have time for politics.”

Here’s where you should make the distinction between politics and foolishness. There is a difference. One is being aware of the people and the dynamics that can and will impact your career and success trajectory. The other is non-productive activity engaged in by people with not enough to do (or they are not focused on what they are supposed to be doing). Yes, sometimes it is a fine line, but that’s why you are ordained with the power of discernment.

portrait of a beautiful Afro-American businesswomanSo, what does it mean to be politically savvy and how do you acquire it?

For starters, being politically savvy entails you understanding who are all of the people/positions that impact your experience and trajectory within your organization.

Knowing who the people are is important because understanding personalities and management and leadership styles is important. In addition, you should understand the roles of the positions within the organization that can influence your career path; people rotate in out of positions all of the time.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

1. What is the mission or key objective of the organization and how does what you do help to fulfill that? Another way to ask this is what value do you contribute to the organization?

2. How are you perceived within your organization? Your image is more than how you look.

3. Where are you positioned in the current organizational structure?

4. Where do you aspire to move to?

5. How have you developed relationships with key stakeholders beyond your immediate level of management?
Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore and explain some of the more common “your work is excellent, but”.

I invite you to join me on Tuesday evening May 26th, for a free webinar where we will discuss this further as well as talk about how to develop strategies to work through them.

Register Now!

DebTalks™ Presents

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“What Do They Mean When They Say…?”
Tuesday May 26th
8:00 PM Eastern/ 7:00PM Central

West Coast  Special Time

7:00PM Pacific

register now for “What Do They Mean When They Say…?”


Don’t forget to send me your “your work is excellent, but…” stories.  Don’t worry.  I never use or reveal real names.

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Deborah Gray-Young, CPC, ELI-MP

Certified Personal & Executive Coach



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