It’s been slightly more than three weeks since I started working and I got reacquainted with the beauty that is Office Politics!
For those who don’t know, Office politics “are the strategies that people play to gain an dvantage, personally or for a cause they support”. The term often has a negative connotation, in that it refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good.
Love it, revel in it, hate it or just play along with it, office politics are a staple in every organisation, be it a small organisation or a large multinational company. Someone who wants to be successful in his/her career needs to know how to play the game and eventually become a master at it!
I’ve seen different forms of the games people play at work and sometimes am amazed by the audacity of some of the tactics some people employ to get ahead. I always wonder if these people are wasted in the role they are in, they may have been better off as politicians instead of being a corporate slave.
To win at this game and come out smelling of roses, here are some strategies you should use, preferably as soon as you join a new organisation:
Map your organisation
In most organisations, the real power is not where the formal power lies. For example, maybe someone who has been there for a long time and knows the organisation inside-out, but who is fairly junior in position, may weld more soft power than the head of the organisation. This person may be able to influence people across the organisation and so has more power as he/she can people towards or away from someone.
So when you join a new organisation, watch for a couple of weeks and find out who the real influencers are and make them like you too.
Build social relations across the hierarchy
Make sure that the social relations you build in the organisation across formal hierarchies, you should be friends from people across the strata, most junior to most senior. This helps you to win people across the organisation and also know what is happening elsewhere in the organisation. When you are friends with people, they tend to help you, not only with information, but also with things that may be new to you or things you may be unfamiliar with.
I had a colleague like that, this person was super friendly and made friends easily and across the organisation. This person was also very helpful and would go out of their way to help people and so used this currency to build relations and also get the gossip from across departments and sections.
At work, it is very easy to get caught up in gossip and eventually end up taking sides. This could misfire horribly. So the best thing to do is to be completely neutral. Even when people rant about other people in front of you, just nod neutrally and move away from there as soon as possible. When you take sides in any issue, it will inevitably come to bite you in the back.
Be Objective and professional
When office politics comes to play, personalities are involved and we may be mad at someone or the other. At times like this, maybe you want to vent out to someone and this most likely takes the shape of a gossip and veers to the person’s personal characteristics. Don’t give in to this! Even if you win this war, you will ultimately lose the larger battle.
Be professional in your attitude and your exchanges with your superiors, peers and subordinates at all times. This attitude will pay off in more ways than one.
So here you have four ways in which you can play the office politics game and come out a winner. Do you have any more strategies which help in navigating the minefield which is office politics? I’d to hear from you in the comments below.