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Where You Sit In The Office Pecking Order

It all depends on how involved you are.

18/08/2016 12:25 PM AEST | Updated 20/08/2016 5:06 PM AEST
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Bert Hardy
The office hierarchy is everything. You need to learn where you sit in the almighty pecking order.

Many of us would have a good idea about where we stand in the office hierarchy. There's usually a pecking order that begins with the CEO barking orders and ends with whoever is unlucky enough to wipe the mud from the carpet, or be sent on a coffee/hamburger run for the entire office.

But there will always be people who feel like they're higher up on the ladder than they really are, the same way there are workers who have a big title but don't throw it around to their own advantage.

In some organisations, the very structure of the office goes a long way to defining who sits where in the pecking order. But with open plan offices being the norm in many companies, the hierarchy is not so clearly defined.

Leadership and people management specialist Karen Gately told The Huffington Post Australia one way to determine where you stand in the office pecking order is by testing whether people listen to you or not.

"The strength of your voice will influence the extent to which you are able to steer the course of events rather than be simply swept along with the tide. While we all have opinions, having our views taken seriously or acted upon is an important indicator of the impact we are able to have and the role people perceive us as playing irrespective of our job title," Gately said.

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Gone are the days when everyone had their own office. These days it's all open plan and sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between the different roles.

"Also, the people you are connected to and the depth of trust and respect between you is an important indicator. Building strong working relationships with people in senior positions brings the opportunity to influence what they think, how they feel and ultimately the decisions they make."

Michelle Gibbings from Change Meridian told HuffPost Australia you can tell where somebody sits in the pecking order by how involved they are.

"Are you the person in the know, who's aware of what's going on at all times? Are you the person whose opinion is sought out? Are you a confidant of the more senior people, so they come to you for advice?" Gibbings said.

"When you're a leader, you have an inner circle of people you trust to be able to talk things through. Those people often get special assignments or 'secret' work."

Gibbings recalls a time when an employee came into her office and looked up at the ceiling.

"He started counting. When I asked what he was doing he said, 'I can tell what level you are by the number of panels in your ceiling...how large your office is."

Haywood Magee
Most organisations are open plan. But if you look for the subtle differences in how individual workers are treated by superiors, you will soon get a feel for the pecking order.

"Another thing is that it's often the quiet people who are the most influential. It's about understanding the relationships. Who knows who, where is the network working? Many critical decisions are made in social settings, at the pub or a sporting event or a mutual friend's home. Be alert and don't make assumptions about who knows who. You should always be mindful of the cultural dynamics of the office."

To really discover where you sit in the pecking order, Gately suggests you take a look at how a manager delegates authority and if the work is ever given to you. Also, whether he/she is a control freak.

"Or maybe they simply don't realise they're bad at delegating and should hand over more. Your status is unquestionably reflected in your leadership teams' willingness to allow you to reach some decisions on their behalf," Gately said.

"Ask yourself if you're often identified as the best person to take on a job. Do people invite you to take on responsibilities beyond the boundaries of your day-to-day role? Being included on a project team or being able to influence change is somewhat revealing of the extent to which your talents are well regarded."

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