Office Politics: Must You Play?
Like it or not office politics will always exist. The question is – Must you play in order to get ahead?
Office politics is necessarily not criteria to get ahead at work, but it is an inevitable part of every workplace. If you must play, you have to be smart about it.
What comes to your mind whenever you hear Office Politics?
People engaging in certain negative activities just to get favours, promotions, improve their work status, get access to tangible assets, (usually from the higher-ups in an organisation) at the expense of other employees. Right? We all know that someone who always scores one or two from the boss even without doing any actual work. In many cases, strong employees with outstanding performance are tossed aside while the ones who are not even good enough make it to the top. Many of us actually believe that it is all about magma rolling your way to the top, but that should not be the case. Sadly, the term “office politics” always has a negative connotation attached to it. But naturally, there is nothing wrong with using power and status to achieve something, it’s the way we use it that matters. If done right, politics can be beneficial to both the organization and the parties involved.
According to Natalie Khoury, a business coach, “Politics doesn’t have to be about playing games or backstabbing, it should be about building relationships and knowing who can help you make your job easier.”
Negative politics can be destructive. Imagine if everyone actually screws over everyone just to get ahead, the workplace would be a mess, full of strife and hate. You must not play dirty in order to have a successful career.
So how do you navigate through office politics without resorting to ugly tactics?
Here are five ways to play smart with office politics:
- Play With Purpose
Clearly map out what you want to achieve by playing the game. This will help you prioritize your efforts and walk towards the direction of your goals. When you have mapped out your goals, ensure that those goals aligned in a way that will lead to success and fulfilment. You do not need gossiping, backstabbing or manipulation to achieve success, hence keep that behind you and forge forward.
- Tap Into The Network
Figure out exactly what is going on and how things work in your office. Listen and watch closely, in order to get a good knowledge of the inner network and who is aligned with whom. Most of the people in this network are not easily described in the organisation’s chart. You have to look closely to figure them out. Find and connect directly with the people who get things done. Make sure you have something of value to add to this network that way, you would become part of the only organisational chart that really matters.
- Be Humble
The fact that you are important and have a certain power over others does not mean you should be arrogant and conceited. People who inflate their own importance usually get their bubbles busted, while those who genuinely foster good relationships are better positioned when it comes to playing the game. Don’t let your importance get to your head!
- Make It a Win-win Situation
One of the reasons office politics has such a bad reputation is because of the perception that there always has to be a winner and a loser and you must fight dirty to be on the winning side. Office politics works best when you put other parties involved into consideration. Everyone should walk out of it happy and fulfilled.
- Never Pit People Against Each Other
The most egregious, mean thing anybody in a position of trust and responsibility can do is to pit people against each other. Never fake allegiance to people and sabotage them behind their backs. Fake allegiances are always exposed in the long run, and then, neither of the people you were trying to impress will trust you again.
Don’t compromise your personal values and principles while playing the politics game!