Political scientists have defined politics as the art of the possible. Employees often find coping with office politics to be an impossible art. When I started my career, I wanted to be above office politics and do what was right because it was the right thing to do, not because I would personally gain from doing it. I abhorred the political schmoozing, positioning and strategising that seemed necessary to advance in the work environment. So I didn't play the game. I maintained my integrity, and said what I thought was right despite who I disagreed with or offended. SUCH A CONVENIENT AND A STUPID MISTAKE IT WAS I also watched other people who were less competent but more politically savvy than me advance their careers while my career stalled.
Don't make the same mistake of believing that you can ignore or avoid office politics. You SIMPLY can't......Here are a few tips to navigate office politics:
Analyze the org chart: Understand who holds power, and what the reporting structure is. Then sit back and observe. Who actually has influence over major decisions? It’s not always the person at the top.
Build your network: Make connections outside of your immediate team or department. Cross the boundaries and hierarchies. Don’t fear those with political power. Instead, get to know them. All successful people do this knowingly or unknowingly ….u may climb up the hierarchy ladder swiftly.
Develop your soft skills: Office politics are all about interpersonal interactions. Proceed with emotional intelligence. Self-regulate. Censor. Observe...Understand...Think before you act.
Be strategic: You need to be brave, and not a coward. Get to know the office politics by getting to know the gossips and the manipulators. Be courteous and guarded. While you should not trust them, understanding their goals can provide you great insight into what the organization values.
Don’t stir the pot: Avoid spreading rumors and unsubstantiated gossip. Office politics are a dirty game, and you don’t need to become soiled. Do not pass comments needlessly.
Be assertive, but not aggressive: Couch any dissenting opinions within the context of what impact the issues have on the organization, rather than on you personally.
Know when to keep your mouth shut: Sometimes the best course of action can be to sit back and listen, without offering anything in exchange. Particularly if you are new to the organization, you should “shut up and listen” 80% of the time.
When you disagree with someone, have a conversation, not an argument. Always frame your position within the context of the impact on the business, the team, or the organization. Avoid talking about personal slights.
Avoid copying people’s managers: If you send emails in which you always copy the recipient’s manager, it’s going to make people regard you with suspicion. The same goes for using the BCC. The only time to use BCC is when you have an announcement to make to many people across the organization and you want to avoid the dreaded “reply all.”
Identify your role: Be honest with yourself. To what degree have you immersed yourself into the office politics? Once you do that, you can work on extricating yourself.
Know who are the gatekeepers: Focus your powers of persuasion on the right people, and on the right issues.
Talk it out When you disagree with someone, have a conversation, not an argument. Always frame your position within the context of the impact on the business, the team, or the organization. Avoid talking about personal slights.
Support others: You get what you give. You need support to get your job done. You will have to give support in return.
Don’t vent via email Even if you delete it, email is forever. If you need to write down your frustrations, do so with pen and paper. Paper can be shredded later.
The bottom line: When we perceive that our workplace is overly political, we are less engaged and less productive. If the office politics at your workplace have made coming to work untenable, it might be time to consider moving on.
In that case, your first order of business is to craft a new resume and cover letter. In your resume, you will want to focus on your significant achievements, and you will want to be sure that you quantify those when possible.
Your cover letter should focus on your skills and achievements, and needs to demonstrate that you understand the business problems that the hiring manager is looking to solve. Keep it positive, and tell the best possible story of YOU!