When faced with a new boss or big player in the workplace, many of us quickly want to know, "Where do I stand, what should I do?"
Steven L. Katz, the author of a new book on how to survive and get ahead in today's workplace, likens that moment to facing a lion. "You are either prey, the enemy, or ignored. Prey they eat. The enemy they kill. Everyone else they disregard," Katz writes.
While no one wants to get eaten by a lion, Katz, a former Senate aide and Clinton administration official, thinks that hunkering down in the cubicle and letting the lion ignore you can be too risky to permit.
Being ignored in the workplace is "often fatal to the careers of many people," Katz writes in his book, "Lion Taming: Working Successfully With Leaders, Bosses and Other Tough Customers."
"People who are the targets of being ignored die a slow death in the workplace because they are not taken seriously," Katz says. "If the lions do not take you seriously, the message quickly spreads around the organization, and others at the colleague level begin to treat you as if, as one executive put it, you are 'radioactive.' "
Rather than run that risk, Katz recommends that "you use your lion-taming skills" and find ways to communicate with the boss and win his trust and respect.
The federal government, in particular, "is unusual in the numbers of people who fall into leadership, executive and management jobs," Katz said in an interview. Many of them, he added, are "better defined and understood as lions rather than people."
Katz began analyzing workplace issues several years ago, when a friend was promoted and became chief of staff for a top Washington official. He dubbed her a "lion tamer" and developed the lion as a metaphor to explain the right ways to succeed in the workplace.
In his research, Katz says, he learned that successful employees approach the lion with the aim of getting the lion to approach them; that they establish credibility with the lion; and that they make their lion look strong in the eyes of other lions.
Katz came up with more than 75 survival and success tips. For instance, he writes, always remember that you never go into the cage without knowing what kind of day the lion is having.
Pentagon Stays on Track
The House, on a 218 to 202 vote yesterday, declined to stop the Pentagon from moving ahead with a plan for a new personnel system aimed at streamlining civil service rules and revamping union bargaining rights.
Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) offered an amendment to stop funding for key parts of the National Security Personnel System, which the Pentagon contends will help improve recruitment, pay and managerial accountability for Defense Department civilians.
"It was a strong vote," Inslee said. He said he hopes yesterday's debate reminded Pentagon officials "that there is strong concern that we have meaningful and real collective bargaining rather than a sham collective bargaining system."
Workshops at HUD
Employees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development help thousands of families each year become owners of homes, so it seemed only natural to HUD leaders that they promote homeownership in the HUD workforce as part of June's National Homeownership Month activities.
Yesterday, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi kicked off a series of workshops for employees on such topics as "mortgage basics," "buying the right home inexpensively" and "five ways to keep your home for life."
After the last workshop June 30, HUD will begin moving the home ownership information to the agency's Web site so that it will be available to other federal employees and the public, HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan said.
Diary Live Today
Katz, the author of "Lion Taming," will take questions and comments on how to navigate through the federal workplace at noon today on Federal Diary Live at www.washingtonpost.com. Please join us.