Neill’s research was conducted by recording in-depth interviews with dozens of senior executives in three Fortune-listed companies, and one multinational private company.
"People deny there are internal politics, but the more you interview them, some of these real stories came out," she said. "You have those doors you can't get behind, those assistants or receptionists that control access — or executives are in meetings a lot of the time.”
The solution, Neill said, was to identify top executives in order to communicate with them informally and build rapport for C-suite buy-in. Those needing to persuade top executives should “catch top executives in the hall, at Starbucks, at fitness centers,” she said. "A lot of decisions are made after 5."
For more persuasive power, Neill found that staff members worked on informal collaborations across departments.
"Those in human resources didn't think to contact those in PR when they were working on a wellness initiative," Neill said. "The program was not effective. But when PR got involved, participation in metabolic screening shot up. It was in the way the messaging was done, emphasizing that your health affects your family, too."
To gather more influence in C-suites offices, the key is to lobby company executives informally, a Baylor University researcher suggests. In studying four large corporations, assistant professor Marlene Neill concluded that you don’t have to have a seat at the table to hold influence there.