If I had a minute for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t like to play office politics,” my to-do list might be to-done!
Office politics doesn’t have to be manipulative or sleazy. In fact, it’s one of the most direct, smart and savvy ways to make your mark with those that count.
Here are three rules to win the game of office politics.
Rule 1: See it as a game. Just like in any board game or sport, you must follow rules. The same holds true with your career. Decide to get off the sidelines and take a position. It’s how business gets done. In today’s new normal, you can no longer keep your nose to the grindstone hoping your work will speak for itself. Everyone is too busy with their own responsibilities to know your goals or which projects you spearhead. Catalyst research continues to show that self-promotion is no longer a choice, but a requirement to move forward in today’s world. Get in the game.
Rule 2: Play fair. Office politics does not require that you butter up others with false flattery or put another down to get ahead. Simply look for truths you can share. Walking out to your car at the same time as a key player in another division? Why not say, “I saw the new marketing plan from your team. Thought the tag line was clear and compelling.” Sincere input shows you are up to date with issues and makes you memorable. Never met that key player before? Follow up your comment with a self-introduction: “By the way, I’m Susan Clarke from development.”
Rule 3: Know the players. Office politics is all about maintaining relationships and getting results. This requires you know everyone you play with from a strategic point of view. I bet you’ve used this rule already to get a child into a certain teacher’s class or specific school. Perhaps you’ve known whom to go to and what to say to receive support from IT or a favorite vendor more efficiently. You were simply using your network of relationships you’ve built over time.
Office politics doesn’t have to be sleazy or underhanded. You can be forthright, honest and kind. You decide.