“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Aristotle
Office politics are a reality – positive or negative, they happen. Handling them successfully is often challenging and requires learning how to get what you want in the world of work without compromising others in the process.
The first step in successful office politicking is figuring out things like: who really influences what happens; who is respected; who champions/mentors others; who has the purse strings; who makes things happen? Organizational charts rarely reflect reality in terms of power.
After understanding the official power structure study the informal, social networks. This requires asking yourself another set of questions like: What groups and cliques exist; who has the most trouble getting along with others; who are the manipulators and power brokers; who gets along with whom?
If you are part of an organization then you are also a part of that organization’s politics, and successfully navigating within your organization necessitates that you build your own network. Keys to building a successful network are:
- Getting to know politically powerful people.
- Associating with people across the organization including peers, bosses, and executives.
- Building relationships with those who have informal power.
- Basing your relationships on trust and respect – avoid empty flattery.
- Being friendly and respectful with everyone – avoid aligning yourself with any one group.
- Being part of multiple networks thus keeping yourself informed about what’s going on within the entire organization.
- Avoiding gossip and character assassination, alliances tend to change, make it your policy to either speak well of people or not to speak about them at all.
Remember, this is your livelihood, and a professional attitude is critical.