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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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It’s easy to manage people when everyone’s happy and free of office politics. But conditions are rarely so rosy.
You have heard all the general advice and theories about getting “a seat at the table.” But what does it take to jump the fence from your administrative role and be seen as a true leader in the company? The HR Specialist newsletter posed the following question to three of the leading HR thought leaders in America today: “What makes an HR professional an indispensable leader in an organization?” Their answers pointed to the following 5 actions:
Before you can manipulate office politics to work in your favor, you’ll need an organized, clear picture of the lines of power that exist within your workplace. Here’s how: Start with a blank sheet of paper. Place the names of the highest-ranking people in your unit or company in a row across the top of the page...

Your gut tells you to wait a day before sending an angry e-mail or to stay away from the rumor mill. That’s your intuitive intelligence, says best-selling author and UCLA psychiatrist Judith Orloff. By checking in with your intuitive coach, she says in her book Second Sight, you end up making better on-the-job decisions and navigating office politics masterfully.

Lee’s immediate supervisor left the organization, so now she reports to a higher-level director. In their meetings, the director seems distracted and bored, even though Lee takes extra time to prepare. “My preparation is usually met with a very brief response or a push off to another manager,” she says. “What can I do to make our meetings more engaging?”

Question: “Because of some recent accomplishments, I received a letter of recognition from the vice president of sales in our corporate office. The recognition was extremely motivating, but my name was spelled wrong on the letter. When I brought this to my immediate supervisor's attention, she said she would forward the letter to the VP and have it corrected.  That was a month ago, and I’ve heard nothing further about it. This letter would be very helpful in future job interviews, but not if it has the wrong name. Do you think I should bypass my manager, go straight to the VP and tell her she messed up and to fix it?” — Insulted

At real estate settlement firm Title Source, President and CEO Jeff Eisenshtadt doesn’t care who’s right. He cares what is right. Around the office, Eisenshtadt has posted signs containing what he calls “isms”: They’re the words of wisdom that he expects his employees to live by—and that he uses during their evaluations.

Join The HR Specialist in celebrating the first-ever “HR Professionals Week,” a five-day tribute to all that human resources pros do to make American workplaces more effective and American businesses more successful. From Monday, March 1 through Friday, March 5, we're offering a full week’s worth of free resources and activities available to all, including open-access podcasts and white papers on the critical issues shaping the HR profession.

It’s a myth that good work makes a good career—rather, good office politics makes a good career, says career columnist Penelope Trunk. Here’s are four common-sense rules to follow. They'll make people want to work with you, and boost your credibility and influence in the process.

Anybody can lead people who are hardworking, pleasant, thoughtful, respectful and fun. The true challenge is whether you can handle PITAs, which stands for either Pains In The Ass or Professionals Increasing Their Awareness, depending on how kind you are. Here are a few types of PITAs and how best to lead them.

About a third of the 15 employees who work for ClearedJobs.net in Falls Church, Va., bring their dogs to work. So it was pretty easy for Chief Marketing Officer Kathleen Smith to convince the group to pitch in when she decided to send care packages to U.S. military working dogs in Afghanistan.

Though work mates care about you, they pay more attention to messages that show there’s something in it for them, says Susan Mason, a principal of Vital Visions Consultants. So, for example, if you want something from your boss—whether it’s approval on a new printer purchase or a more flexible schedule—figure out what benefit she will realize. Figure out “What’s In It For Me?” from her perspective.

Local, state and federal agencies could have a key edge over corporate America during a recession: job security. In a CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,900 workers, 88% said they were interested in public-sector jobs. Their reasons:

The recession’s battering of the private sector isn’t the only thing driving job applicants to consider government employment, according to a new survey by CarerBuilder.com. Job-seekers also know that government agencies are among the few employers with budgets that might go up.

Question: “I have been fired from almost every job I have ever had. My friend says I’m just unlucky, because I seem to wind up in impossible situations that I can’t escape. I know that difficult people are everywhere, but I guess I haven’t learned how to properly navigate around the worst ones. I’ve tried the fight-back approach and the just-deal-with-it approach, but neither seems to work. Last time, I made a pre-emptive strike by complaining to human resources, but I still wound up on the losing end of the stick. I have been fired from five jobs in seven years. What would you recommend for someone like me?” — Nathan

In tough times, smart managers step up. They communicate openly and honestly and provide perspective to help employees weather economic storms.

Move over, Google. Microsoft grabs tech headlines this month by adding zippy new features to its Internet Explorer browser. Here are four cool tricks that will save time for you and your employees.

There’s a hefty price to pay when a company doesn’t trust its employees, and employees don’t trust their company. Stephen M.R. Covey, son of the 7 Habits author, argues that if you don’t have a high-trust organization, you’re actually paying taxes on everybody’s suspicions.

We’ve all been put in situations where opinionated people force us to talk about something that we don’t care to discuss. What do you say in these awkward, challenging moments that allows you to speak your truth, yet leave another’s respect intact? Try out the following techniques:

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.

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