Question: How can I master the dynamics in a new organization?

I have recently joined a new organization in a support role (Quality/ Six Sigma). Success in my role depends on engaging my peers and their subordinates to get multiple parallel projects going.

I had minimal handoff with my predecessor who was on her way out of the company. So far I have had lunch conversations with my boss and peers, but often the information they share suggest conflicting agendas.

What would be a good way for me to understand the way things work in my new organization and form effective alliances?

3 Expert Insights

Since you're after collaboration then get collaborative. Pose your challenge to the others around you in  a generic sense with neutral language and ask them how they would solve the problem. What that may do is give them an experience of you respecting their input and that will build trust which is the foundation of collaboration.

Second, allow time. you're a newbie to them so the other animals in the forest need to sniff you out and adjust to your presence. You didn't build your personal friendships overnight, they deepened with time so give the whole thing some time. Remember ever ecosystem has to adapt to a new element in it.

Lastly, be real. be genuine and don't play chameleon simply to get into the crowd. If they see that you are A. integrous, and B. congruent, and C. consistent, then they'll know what they can count on.

A quick answer: listen well, especially for shared purpose across groups.  When you have the opportunity to guide the conversation towards those overarching goals, and away from divisive gossip, do so--not by making people wrong, just by what you demonstrate in your focus.  Build trust by being impeccable in your word, and showing openness and vulnerability and willingness to take good risks as people get to know you.  As you understand others' needs, be a resource in that context.

Most people focus on activity, not outcomes.  And that's where the greatest conflict lies, because people get attached to their strategies.  That's why focusing on what the organization is trying to accomplish as a whole, rather than what it's doing as individual parts, will help.

Of course, you'll be changing the dynamics of the organization, not just understanding it.  If you merely want to fit in, that's not my strong suit.

Ask questions.
Listen, listen, listen.
Don't assume.
Ask what has worked.
Ask what has not worked.
Ask what they would have done differently.
Be open, reliable, become trustworthy.

Good luck!