Office Politics

There are few things as uncomfortable as dealing with difficult workers. Yet dealing with them successfully is a key to business success.

Business Management Daily is known for our sound, field-tested advice on favoritism in the workplace and other challenging office personalities and situations.

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Soon after Gary Lizalek was hired at a Wisconsin medical firm, he informed the company that he believed, as a matter of religious faith, that he was three separate beings. The company fired all three Lizaleks. He sued, saying the company failed to accommodate his religious beliefs.

As many companies cut back on expenses and, in some instances, cut staff, how do you maintain your edge and ask for what your department needs without immediately seeing your request denied? Tell a tale, become a storyteller and see your words make an impact.

How can you be assured of enough face time with your boss to ask questions, convey critical information and dazzle her with your smarts—without coming across as a time drain? The key, advises author and workplace columnist Anita Bruzzese, is to be aware of what your boss wants and when and how she wants it.

Sally, a technician for a manufacturer of scientific equipment in Texas, discusses how a team-oriented workplace has fizzled in recent months.

You've scrupulously avoided office gossip, but that isn't protecting you from being the subject of this week's chitchat. Wanting to jump quickly to your own defense is a normal reaction, but it might exacerbate the situation. Follow these steps to salvage your reputation and stop the gossip.

Question: I can’t seem to get promoted, even though I am well-qualified. My performance evaluations are excellent, and I have received numerous awards. The company posts promotional opportunities so that anyone can apply, but the “winning” applicant always seems to have been selected in advance. Obviously, politics plays a great part in these selections, and I am not a political person. I do interact with people, but I just don’t do it with an agenda in mind. How can I get ahead? —  No Way Out

It's almost performance review time, and you want to bring up issues with your boss about co-workers but not sound like a griper? Liz Ryan, a workplace expert, gives her advice on how to speak up during a review:

Fear can paralyze even the most successful people. To make it through the recession, though, businesses need people who can be fearless. Gayle Lantz, author of Take the Bull by the Horns, says that to move back into “thrive” mode, “You’ve got to figure out how to aggressively move forward.”

Sally, a technician for a manufacturer of scientific equipment in Texas, explains how a team-oriented workplace has turned cutthroat in recent months.

Turning your back on difficult employees isn't just a management mistake, it can also create legal trouble. That's why, when confronted with employees who don't do what's asked, it's best to devise a strategy for making the best of a potentially explosive situation. Although it may be hard to transform a difficult employee into a warm, friendly ally, you can take the following steps to make it easier for the employee to comply.

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