Politics is a reality you cannot avoid; species such as devilish bosses, backbiting colleagues and annoying subordinates will always be omnipresent. The trick is how you work around them to make your career skyrocket. Politics in some workplaces can get vicious though — and we’re not referring to our netas’ offices. Power and influence-management in your company will always be a part of your career, whether you have the temperament for it or not.
While some of us say they don’t want to get ‘caught up’ in politics at work, most HR experts argue that playing the game is crucial to your career success. By not getting involved, you may find your talents ignored and your success limited, and you may feel left out of the loop. Politics gets nasty when an employee is out for his or her personal gain alone. Think of playing office politics as a game of strategy through which you are able to get the resources and influence you need to accomplish your goals.
Here are seven tips to help you win at office politics and still gain colleagues’ respect.
1. Observe how things get done
Knowing the game inside out is the key to winning it. Don’t be afraid to ask some key questions to your bosses: What are your core values and how are they enacted? Are short or long-term results most 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 organisation.
2. Profile powerful individuals
Okay, this isn’t a nice-sounding term for rear-licking. If you want to be where your bosses are, soon, pay attention to their communication style, network of relationships and what types of proposals they say ‘yes’ to most often. Emulate those traits by drawing on the strengths you have.
3. Develop a positive track record
Planning is crucial as soon as you join the company. If you have a rough idea on how long you want to do the job, work on developing your image as someone who gets results. This gives you an edge in all political corners. On the other hand, style without substance will not gain you respect.
4. Blow your horn, occasionally
We’re not saying you start an outright show-off, but 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. If you don’t know the fine art of diplomatic bragging, you might get lost.
5. Respect counts, especially downwards
It is no new rule to treat your superiors with adequate salaams, but few executives make the folly of behaving with their co-workers and subordinates in a manner a king rules over his jagir. Don’t show preferential treatment or give the heat to co-workers you think ‘won’t be of use to you’. You never know to whom someone might be connected.
6. Don’t align too much with a group
While an alliance where that smart CEO is calling the shots may be powerful for the moment, new leaders will often oust existing coalitions and surround themselves with a new team. Remember your mega office’s politics might not be too different in character from UPA’s coalition government. Bridging across factions may be a more effective strategy for long-term success if you intend to stay in your current organisation for some time.
7. Communicate persuasively
In the end, no matter how intense the politics is at your office, developing an assertive style backed with solid research will always give your colleagues and superiors a positive feeling, even if they’re after you. Good politicians always adjust their messages for their audience.