The word “politics” comes from the Greek “politikos” meaning “of, for or relating to citizens.” At its very root, it’s not a negative concept. Politics is simply the art and science of influencing people.
However, office politics can be a tricky road to navigate. Some people prefer to steer clear of it all together. But your best strategy is to charge up your internal GPS, learn who the influencers are in your company, and make the system work in your favor.
How to Get a Handle on It
A recent study of 400 U.S. workers supports the importance of acknowledging and working within the parameters of office politics. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said this approach was at least somewhat necessary in order to get ahead. Here are some helpful tips:
- Observe, listen and learn. See how things get done in your organization. Ask key questions so you can truly learn company core values and how they’re enacted. Find out how decisions are made and how much risk is tolerated. This information should help solidify your sense of organizational culture.
- Build a coalition of support. Lobby for the respect and trust of all your colleagues, including those at the grass roots level. Make sure as many influencers and decision makers as possible are supportive of your actions and choices.
- Play by the rules. Pay careful attention to protocol. If you slip up, apologize and quickly make amends.
- Communicate persuasively. Be assertive but not aggressive. Focus attention on your ideas and proposals, backed with solid facts. Tailor your message to different audiences. Avoid aligning yourself with a single group. It may be favorable for a moment or a situation, but things can change rapidly.
- Connect with your constituents. Learn the unique styles, priorities and communication preferences of your colleagues in order to best advance your approach.
- Get to know those who practice bad politics. Instead of distancing yourself from them, get to know them better. Try and understand their motivations so you can work more harmoniously with them. Be polite. Disclose information at your own risk and watch what you say in confidence.
- Keep an eye out for any turmoil that may be directed toward you. If a coworker tries to denigrate you, blame you for something you didn’t do or take credit for your work, keep your cool. Don’t be confrontational. First, make sure that your assumption is true and then, discuss the situation privately with your boss.
The recruitment and workforce pros at PrideStaff Modesto can partner with you to keep your career on a progressive, positive and professional track. Contact us today to access our resources, expertise and database of opportunities.