After visiting my daughter in Brooklyn, I’ve awarded her the title of “Subway Queen.” With a little help from her Smartphone transit app, she maneuvered the never-ending stairs, gates and schedules flawlessly, and we always landed where we were headed.

To navigate without a car in this metropolis, you need to learn the language of a web of trains, including their starts, stops, and the timing in between. To go north, you must first go west…unless you have to go east. Huh?

This reality isn’t intuitive to an outsider, while seasoned residents like my daughter get it. When you don’t understand how everything connects, you’re liable to get lost, stuck, or at least extremely frustrated.

It made me think of how we all survive in the complexity of workplace webs. Do we know how to begin navigating the workplace with the myriad of paths and gates of politics and influence? Like the subway, sometimes the journey is underground, while the movement, although seemingly going forward, looks like a detour.

Is there a surefire way to navigate the political network system of our corporate worlds?

It depends.

In a smaller company, for instance, it’s easier to travel through the organization and understand the influencers and powerbrokers. With larger organizations, this can be confusing, especially with multiple departments, unequal titles, and added layers of hierarchy.

Regardless of company size, if your goal is to successfully navigate through the hierarchy, here are some helpful tips from the subways of the Big Apple:

1.     Be flexible. Things change, from titles to offices to the people you see on a daily basis. It’s important to listen and observe the flow.

2.     Be aware of your surroundings. You never know when a circumstance may arise  that delays your progress. Be alert, monitor the landscape, and check in with those in the know.

3.     Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance when you are feeling a little lost. In general, people in the know want to help out. Some may even take you under their wing.

4.     Create contingencies. Sometimes your path changes. You need to be prepared by thinking through options.

5.     Patience is golden. You can’t rush movement. Honor the waiting, and use your time for other things.

6.     Trust that you will get there. Believe in the path and see yourself reaching your destination.

Many thanks to my daughter for taking the mystery out of my trip to NYC! She was a knowledgeable companion, making the journey an experience I’ll always remember. Now reach out and find a worthy companion to help you on your trip through the corporate world.