You don’t want to play office politics? That’s like saying you’d rather be a pawn than a queen on a chess board. Those who ignore office politics – the reality of alliances, visibility and influence with or without authority –risk getting mauled or swept off the workplace chess board.
If you’d like to play office politics effectively yet with integrity, follow these guidelines.
Learn how things work
Every organization has unique politics, born out of those who run things. If you want to survive and thrive in your organization’s politics, learn how things work. What results do the decision-makers value? Who are the influencers in your organization? Who is respected and what is it they do? How are decisions made? What minefields exist? Who champions others? What cliques exist? Who gets along with whom?
Play with integrity
Contrary to myth, those who play dirty politics achieve only short-term results. Eventually, they build a negative image and lose their influence. Then others, sometimes those who play even dirtier, take them out.
If you want a long-lasting relationship in your organization, operate with integrity. When others trust you, and realize you operate according to “how can you and I both win,” you win trust, respect and friends.
Develop a wide network
Those who win at office politics develop strong and mutual relationships. Get to know your organization’s decision-makers and those on whose support you’ll depend. When you interact with them, don’t approach these connections from a perspective of “how can I use you?” but from a “what matters to you?” and “how can we both work together and support each other” basis.
Although most organizations segment into castes and cliques, and many individuals hang out only with those similar to them, try for relationships that cross the formal hierarchy in all directions (peers, those with less status and those higher than you on the organization’s chart).
You’ll forge strong alliances if you support others, share credit and deliver on promises. While it may be counter-intuitive, you’ll benefit from getting to know those don’t like, as in “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
If someone trusts you with sensitive information, keep their confidence.
In terms of gossip, don’t listen to it. Don’t add to it. Don’t bitch, mudsling or complain. These activities offer short-term excitement but produce no results and damage your credibility.
If others attack you below the belt, don’t sink to their level. You’ll both regret your unprofessionalism and look bad.
Four keys to surviving and thriving at office politics – learning, integrity, networking and acting with impeccable behavior.