Originally published by Lindsey Pollak 29 April
The phrase “office politics” makes some people queasy. Maybe that’s because we tend to associate “politics” with people who are looking out for No. 1. Those who will say anything to get ahead. The backstabbers. The gossipers. Very House of Cards.
But office politics is a different game – and one that savvy professionals know they have to play. That’s why it’s important to reframe your view of office politics and think about it in terms of mutual benefits and working well with others – traits that can help you excel in your workplace.
Let’s think about office politics in a different light, as something that can help your career, not hinder it. I like the advice offered below.
Reframe Your Thinking. Office Politics Can Be Positive!
“What are positive politics?
- The wise use of good interpersonal skills
- The ability to size up situations and people from a useful perspective
- Understanding how the human factor affects everything a company does
- Knowing the chain of command and how to follow it — or not — to achieve goals that advance the company and your career
- The ability to create and leverage credibility within the company
- Allowing strong ethics, including your work ethic, to inform your decision-making process within the structure of your organization
- The understanding of what is required to effect positive change
Most people would probably prefer to avoid negative office politics — you’ll be happier and more successful if you can. But while you’re refraining from office gossip, don’t underestimate the value of positive politics in advancing your career.” — Read more at Five O’Clock Club.
Think in Terms of Relationships and How Leaders Perceive You
“The harsh reality is that organizations are hierarchies, and the social science bears out uncomfortable truths about politics and interpersonal relationships: We make initial snap judgments of people, often based on appearance, that can carry on over time; we favor those who are similar to us; we get promoted or gain valuable information by making our boss feel good and building relationships with influential people … There is strong evidence that our work ratings, bonuses, and promotions are weakly correlated to actual performance — in fact, performance may even matter less to our success than our political skills and how we are perceived by those who make the decisions.” — Read more at Harvard Business Review.
Look for Win-Win Opportunities
“Political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us. In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case. Learn to think in terms of ‘how can we both win out of this situation?’ This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him. Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties..” — Read more at Lifehacker.com.
Seek Out Mentors to Guide You Through (and Past) the Politics
“As you build a network of allies and champions, identify potential sponsors. Sponsors take action on your behalf and open the door to new opportunities for you. They promote you and protect you from the politics at play. In fact, when it comes to winning high profile assignments, promotions, and pay raises, the intervention of sponsors tends to improve outcomes by 30 percent. Sponsors have the power to clear the way for you to assume a leadership position.” — Read more from Bonnie Marcus, author of The Politics of Promotion: How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead at Huffington Post.
I’d love to hear your take. How have you used office politics to get ahead or help others? Share your story in the comments below!