Office politics does not need to be a world of drama & back-stabbing, much like your favourite TV series, not when you accept that competing interests, scarce resources and a lack of clear direction or information is simply just part of everyday corporate life. It’s how you navigate these, sometimes tricky, waters that really counts.
The term “office politics” is defined as the strategies people use to gain some kind of advantage, whether it be a personal advantage or one that benefits their team. As much as you’d like to seem like someone who doesn’t get involved in office politics, at the end of the day it really is unavoidable.
Here are our top 5 tips for making office politics for work you:
- Keep your ear to the ground at all times
The key to really understanding office politics is to listen & observe. Once you have a better understanding of the organisational hierarchy, accepted processes & procedures, any sensitive topics, and you know who the power players are, you’ll be in a much better position to read and anticipate situations and adapt your behaviour accordingly. It’s what those in the know refer to as social astuteness.
- Build a strong network
When building a network, you must remember that it’s not about how many people you know, but instead about who you know. Be on the lookout for quality connections, people who can help you get a leg up, people who you can learn from and people who can help you grow within the organisation. Also, don’t limit connections to just your department, try to build relationships with players across various arenas, you never know what new opportunities those may bring.
- Pinpoint the negative players
Some people seem to simply enjoy stirring the pot. They’re not necessarily malicious, they just don’t seem to handle situations well and are inevitably at the centre of a lot of the drama. Your instinct may be to avoid these types of people, but a better strategy would be to get close and to understand what makes them tick. This way you can use this information to adjust your interactions with them in a way that equalises their negative impacts.
- Be the person others would want to side with
As much as “playing the game” can become enticing, it’s important that you stay true to yourself and your personal values. People who are genuine, who don’t only look out for number 1, who put in the required effort & gets things done in a professional, reliable manner are the people others want to have on their side. Never use your power to manipulate or control others, because sooner or later, it will backfire.
- Always keep your cool
When it comes to office politics, it helps to not take things too personally. Remember that everyone has their own ambitions and goals, and it’s not always about you as a person, but more about their end game. Before you react to any situation, take some time to reflect. This way you can decide on the best & most practical course of action instead of your emotions getting the better of you.
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