Understanding Office Politics

In its purest form, office politics is simply about getting from here to there: securing a promotion, seeing an idea come to fruition, or gaining support to make an organizational change. Playing the game well is about defending your position, earning respect, exchanging favors, and keeping your sanity amid the chaos.  It can be tricky in a working environment but understanding it and coping mechanisms are essential to career success.  An employee must learn how power and influence are managed within the company. How do you get a handle on office politics?  Observe how things are accomplished within your organization.  Do not hesitate to ask questions.  Identify core values and how they are implemented. What is valued more – short term results or long term results? Is risk a part of the climate? Finding out the answers will enable you to identify the culture of your workplace.

Things to keep in mind -never be afraid to brag about your abilities and accomplishments. You must balance this carefully, however.  Exaggerating your successes or taking too much credit for something when there is a team involved can be detrimental. 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.

Be keenly aware of office turmoil that is specifically directed at you. If you perceive that you are being sabotaged by a boss or a colleague, it can be devastating. Complain and it could advance the problem.  Do nothing and your career could be in jeopardy. Being blamed for something that is not true or contrived is difficult but it is imperative to maintain your composure. Verify any information before acting.  Consult a trusted colleague or mentor. If you are certain that there is a threatening issue, talk to your boss or manager in private.

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. Carefully analyzing the office politics is vital to your job performance.  You may decide that this particular environment is not for you.  In this case, move to higher ground.

Source: “How to Handle Office Politics.” – Careers. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

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