Office Politics: Play Fair and Win
Posted by Louellen Essex on September 30, 2013 in Leadership
Beware: If you are a leader who hesitates to engage in politics at work, your base of influence may be at risk. In these challenging times, your job may even be in danger, as organizations are contemplating more layoffs. Politics is not always nasty business. Think of it as a way of building a network of relationships and an understanding of how your organization ticks. Your goal: to get things done that contribute to the mission of the organization, as well as to your personal success. Here are a few tips to help you play fair and win:
Observe how things get done in your organization. What is most valued? How are decisions made? Who most influences what gets done and by whom? The answers to these questions will give you a road map to your organization’s culture.
Determine strategic initiatives in your company. Make sure your skills are up-to-date and relevant and that the work you do is aligned.
Toot your own horn. If no one knows what you are doing, good work may go unnoticed. Without being arrogant, make others aware of the results you and your staff are achieving.
Don’t align too strongly with one group. While an alliance may be temporarily powerful, new leadership will often oust existing coalitions and bring in a new team. Bridging across factions may be a more effective long-term, career-enhancing strategy.
Learn to persuasively communicate. Develop a confident style, backed with solid facts and examples, to focus others on your proposals and new ideas. Good politicians adjust their messages for the audience.
Be true to yourself. After analyzing the political landscape, if you decide the game isn’t one you want to play, prepare to move on.
Adapted from Manager’s Desktop Consultant by Louellen Essex and Mitchell Kusy, Davies-Black, 2007.
How have you managed office politics in your organization?