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Margaret Morford - HR and Career Insights

The Hidden Language of Business: Workplace Politics, Power & influence

Margaret Morford, Leadership StrategistMargaret Morford

It's Monday Morning in Corporate America. Do you know where your top performers are?

A candid conversation with leadership strategist Margaret Morford. "People who say they 'don't play politics' are destined to fail."

Welcome to a special Leadership Channel podcast on TotalPicture Radio. This is Peter Clayton reporting. Margaret Morford is a leadership strategist, president for The HR Edge, Inc., (an international management consulting and training company), and author. Her latest book is titled The Hidden Language of Business.

According to Morford, "Forget those ideas about workplace 'politics' being shameful, unethical, or manipulative. Those notions are simplistic and naïve - and can torpedo your career faster than it takes to say "pink slip." Passionately advocating for what she calls "the hidden language of business" -by which she means the positive, ethical political skills that can make or break you in the workplace-Margaret shows how to use these skills to achieve your personal best.

By sharing her personal experiences and those of others, Margaret reveals the secret political skills you need to achieve peak influence and effectiveness in your workplace.

I first met Margaret at the 2009 SHRM National Conference in New Orleans, where we discussed the concepts that exceptional managers must possess: "Management Courage." Many of the principles Margaret discussed in New Orleans are from her book Management Courage: Having the Heart of a Lion published in 2006.


Questions Peter Clayton asks Margaret Morford

  • Margaret, before we discuss your new book, I'd like to get your pulse on what's happening in HR and recruiting as we move into 2011. You speak at a lot of conferences and consult with lots of organizations. What are you hearing out there?
  • Are the recruiters and HR professionals you talk with feeling optimistic?
  • Do you think companies' will be investing in their HR and recruiting departments in 2011?
  • What about initiatives like employee learning, recognition programs, succession planning... do you see any of these programs returning in 2011?
  • What about hiring? We keep hearing about jobless recovery. I recently spoke with Bill Kutik who told me that companies are spending money again, but not hiring fulltime employees. What are you hearing?
  • Ok, let's pivot to your new book. What was your inspiration for writing The Hidden Language of Business?
  • In your introduction, you write; "People who say they "don't play politics" are destined to fail." Why?
  • Your book covers 44 political rules. What are the most important, and most critical for career success?
  • Rule #6 in your book - which I call the Steve Jobs rule, "avoid discussing your personal/and or health problems, unless it's absolutely necessary." Can you expand on this? And why are people openly discussing their health or personal problems at work? This is not the Dr. Phil show!
  • Rule 10 is one of my favorite: Network once a week with someone outside your organization. Agree. But how do you do this, Margaret? You know how crazy busy everyone is.
  • What other advice can you share with us to keep our careers and career options on track?
  • We all know that recent history painfully illustrates that no one has job security. Even CEOs - I think their tenure is down to about 4 years. What should you do if you're in an organization that has a new CEO - which usually means a whole new leadership team come in? Those can be very dicey political waters.
  • Mergers or an acquisition is another political hot potato many of us have been faced with. What's your advice - especially if your company is the one being acquired?
  • You go into great detail discussing the very real ramifications of electronic communication. It really surprises me Margaret, that people still send toxic emails at work.
  • How does one identify what individuals really control the power within a company. Org charts are pretty useless for this?
  • Talk to me about handling stress. We all know many of the "people left standing" within businesses that have had 3-4 or more rounds of layoffs. Meaning their left doing the work of 3-4 people. What are some coping strategies?

Margaret Morford Biography

Margaret Morford is President for The HR Edge, Inc., an international management consulting and training company. Previous to owning her own company, Margaret was Sr. Vice President, Human Resources Consulting for a national consulting firm out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has a BS degree from the University of Alabama and a JD degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law. She has worked as an attorney, specializing in employment law as well as been Vice President of Human Resources for three large companies. She is often quoted as a business expert in newspapers and magazines across the country including Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today and Entrepreneur and appears regularly on local ABC, CBS and Fox television affiliates. She is the author of the videos Running with the Big Dogs - How to Make HR a Strategic Player and The Confident Supervisor as well as the business book, Management Courage - Having the Heart of a Lion and The Hidden Language of Business

Her clients have included Lockheed Martin, Chevron, Time Warner, Sara Lee Foods, Home and Garden Television, Nationwide Insurance, NAPA Auto Parts, New York Presbyterian Hospital (Cornell & Columbia Medical Centers), U.S. Marine Corps, Deloitte, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Vanderbilt University, McKee Foods, Skanska, Fox Broadcasting, Schwarz BioSciences, Fifth Third Bank, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, SAS (computer software), The Nashville Predators national hockey franchise, A.O. Smith, The Peabody Hotel, The Hartford, TECO Energy, AmSurg, Quorum Health Resources, the U.S. Naval Nuclear Submarine Group and various local and state governments.

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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