Politics isn’t just limited to the world of governance and public service. It’s something deeply rooted in our workplaces, which in turn, are bound by hierarchies and bureaucracies. For example, as an employee, you are required to follow a manager or a person in charge, who in turn, was assigned to the position by fulfilling specific requirements created by the company’s leadership.
Most employees have an aversion to office politics, thinking that it’s all about currying favor with management and backstabbing co-workers to get a leg up on them. But like it or not, office politics is a fact of life in any company. The good news is that you can take advantage of workplace politics and put yourself in a favorable position without having to compromise your values. Keep reading to learn how.
Play the Game, But Play Clean
Politics doesn’t have to be about backstabbing and mudslinging. You can, for example, help others reach to achieve their objectives, which will help ensure a favorable response when it’s your time to ask for help. This sounds risky, but most people understand the unwritten rule of reciprocity in the workplace.
Don’t Be Naïve
You may not like the dirty side of politics, but that’s no reason to ignore it. Someone will always want what you have or will disagree with how you do things. Being naïve makes you an easy target, so watch out for anyone eager to play dirty.
Understand the Power Dynamics
Every team and organization has a hierarchy. Your job is to cultivate positive relationships with the people in positions of authority. You don’t have to suck up to them—just be visible.
Make sure they know:
- You exist
- You’re doing a good job
- You’re willing to help
Study Your Informal Power Structure
In every team and organization there exists an informal network of influence and power that goes beyond what’s written on paper.
For example, just because someone is the manager, doesn’t necessarily make him the nexus of power in your team. It may be that the manager is close with a colleague, who in turn, influences his decisions. Pay attention (but be discreet) to these informal networks to spot opportunities for building positive relationships.
Part of playing politics is building connections with as many people as possible, creating your own social and professional network in the process. Look beyond your team and interact with people across all levels and directions of the organization, from the guy who delivers the mail to your executives. Be friendly with everyone, but try not to align yourself too closely with any one group.
If you need more career-building tips and tricks, or need assistance on your job search, let the staffing services specialists of Top Notch Personnel point you in the right direction. Contact our offices at 316-425-4501 to learn more about how our staffing solutions can help you.