“Some people steer clear of office politics, but playing the game may be crucial to career success because it offers a way to learn how power and influence are managed in your company.
To get a handle on office politics, observe how things get done in your organization. Ask some key questions: What are the core values and how are they enacted? Are short- or long-term results more valued? How are decisions made? How much risk is tolerated? The answers to these questions should give you a good sense of the culture of your organization.
And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. If no one knows of your good work, you may lose at the game of office politics when you really deserve to win. Let others know what you’ve accomplished whenever you get the opportunity. Just be careful to avoid coming across as a braggart by exaggerating your successes or taking too much credit for teamwork you participated in.
Learn to communicate persuasively. Develop an assertive style, backed with solid facts and examples, to focus attention on your ideas and proposals. Good politicians adjust their messages for different audiences but do not align themselves too strongly with any one group. While an alliance may be powerful for the moment, new leadership can oust existing coalitions and surround itself with new supporters.
Meanwhile, keep an eye out for any office turmoil that might be directed at you. If a boss or colleague works to sabotage your career – or you perceive you’re being sabotaged – no matter the reason, it can be tough to cope. Complain, and you’re no longer considered a team player or may be accused of imagining the situation. Sit back and do nothing, and your career advancement could be in jeopardy.
If a colleague attempts to denigrate your character, blame you for something you didn’t do or steal credit for your work, make sure to keep your cool. Don’t confront the saboteur. First, carefully weigh the unpleasant possibility that your assumptions about the person are false. Make sure it’s not you that’s the problem. If you’re unsure, consult with a trusted colleague or mentor. Should you then feel certain that you’re in the right, talk to your boss in private about the issue.
- Don’t be afraid to highlight your own accomplishments to your boss and coworkers. An assertive personality is tough to break down.
- Don’t go too far down the road of alliances. All it takes is one staffing change to shift the balance of power, so having allies across the board (rather than in one faction) is most effective.
- Keep a watchful eye of overly competitive coworkers who might delight in your own demise. If power struggles become too much to take, it might be time to look for a new job.
Going forward, you may be able to stop a conniving boss or colleague in his or her tracks by putting every idea, suggestion and accomplishment into a time-stamped document, like an email message. Overall, focus on being true to yourself. After analyzing the political landscape in your company, if you decide the game is one you can’t play, prepare to move on.”
Article Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal