Previously I've worked at small companies and state government or educational institutions. Now I work at a ~30,000 person private corporation and need to better adapt to that cultural situation.

My biggest cultural struggles so far are communicating concisely to people at multiple levels in the hierarchy across multiple different teams and knowing how to navigate the politics of a large corporation (I'm not used to directors being meaningfully different from managers, or the massive differences between what's called "upper management", "management", and everyone else).

I work in a technical role and support customers across every rank & role in the enterprise.

What are your tips, tricks, and advice for handling concise communication & navigating politics / the culture at a large corporation or institution?

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I ended up as part of a team managing the internal communication & knowledge platform for a company that was at the time (early 2020) about ~100,000 employees, now ~146,000. My area of responsibility now includes over 20,000 employees, but I do not directly oversee anyone. I did not have education or much experience particular to this domain, but somehow became a preferred pick for the role, so make of that what you will.

The strategy I've always tried to employ is to treat everyone as intelligent equals, and making as much effort as possible to understand, and earnestly explain, the way things are "supposed" to work in a bureaucratic perspective — who needs to approve, what process needs to be followed, while at the same time consciously addressing instances where what people want/need might be different, and that bureaucracies must be understood in that context. In other words, be aware of the Chesterton's fence principle, but also be aware that taking down the fence is an option that may need to be discussed.

The most common... I don't want to say "obstacle" because that feels so strong, but the thing I most often have to be consciously aware of, is getting the input of everyone whose input should be included. You have to actively seek it out, and push people to give input. It's never because anyone feels "silenced" or anything like that, it's more often that people just feel too busy, or feel their insight isn't important enough, or is not different enough, or wouldn't matter anyway. Voter turnout problems, now that I think about it.

These two talks cover a lot more in ways I think are really useful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkLGLKcplkM — Concrete Practices to Be a Better Leader: Framing & Intention

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zRaFJHK0S4 — Game Studio Management: Making It Great

There's also a little anecdote, by Adam Savage, talking about Michael Stevens, that I can't find (it's somewhere in his Q&A videos on the Tested channel), so I won't try to directly quote it. Adam was talking about asking Michael how he manages to stay so respectful of people, even when telling them things they don't know, and Michael answered something like "Overestimate their intelligence, underestimate their vocabulary."

I do spend a fair bit of time (a solid business hour a week at least) providing or explaining the correct bureaucratic workflows to customers & even other support staff from different teams. Understanding and communicating those bureaucratic processes is imperative. Knowing when to tear them down / bypass such processes is a good idea, thank you for mentioning it (I have a hard time determining that point).

When [where I work] a task or incident reaches such a point, that's usually when escalation to management occurs because I and/or my teammembers hav... (read more)

Oh, and whenever you are able, run things through www.hemingwayapp.com and optimize for shortest length and lowest grade level without losing information.

"I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

1Willa2y
I believe that the Hemingway Editor would be directly useful for my work emails, thank you for sharing :) Sadly, I may not get to use it often for that purpose due to data confidentiality concerns (I work at a hospital).
-3Stevarino2y
Touche.
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Not an answer, but FYI I'm super curious to just here more about what your experience is like, in particular what sort of experiences distinguishing "upper management," "management," and everyone else