Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Nine Strategies for Successfully Playing Office Politics: Don't Make the Mistake of Believing You Can Ignore or Avoid Office Politics. Instead, Learn How to Navigate Them with These Helpful Tips

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Nine Strategies for Successfully Playing Office Politics: Don't Make the Mistake of Believing You Can Ignore or Avoid Office Politics. Instead, Learn How to Navigate Them with These Helpful Tips

Article excerpt

Political scientists have defined politics as the art of the possible. Employees often find coping with office politics to be an impossible art.

When I started my career, I wanted to be above office politics and do what was right because it was the right thing to do, not because I would personally gain from doing it. I abhorred the political schmoozing, positioning and strategizing that seemed necessary to advance in the work environment. So I didn't play the game. I maintained my integrity, and said what I thought was right despite who I disagreed with or offended. I also watched other people who were less competent but more politically savvy than me advance their careers while my career stalled.

Don't make the same mistake of believing that you can ignore or avoid office politics. You can't.

Whether you like playing office politics or not, it is a part of the work reality. Your success in your workplace depends upon how skillfully you play. The following strategies will help you win at office politics while still allowing you to maintain your integrity:

1. Be nice to everyone. Don't believe the "nice guys finish last" stuff. In office politics, nice guys build supportive relationships with other people. Bulldozers and sharks make enemies, and enemies make your life miserable by resisting and sabotaging you. Be sincerely nice to everyone, not just the people you think can help you. People resent phoniness.

2. Be a team player. A team player is someone who helps the team achieve its goals, and helps other people achieve their goals. Be a star by making other people look good, rather than taking credit for other people's achievements.

3. Don't whine and complain. Develop a reputation for being a problem solver. Anybody can complain about a problem. The really valuable employees are those that prevent or solve problems. Although the squeaky wheel may get oiled, its coworkers resent the whiny employee.

4. Be visible. You can't win office politics by hiding. You must be involved and others need to perceive you as a valuable contributor at work. Get involved in solving important and highly visible problems at work. In the age of downsizing, many employees are shocked to learn that they lost their jobs because upper management didn't know what they were contributing to their organization. You not only have to do good work; others must give you credit for your good work and perceive you as a good worker.

5. Help your boss succeed. This is part of being a team player. It is also a smart strategy because your boss is a major player in your promotability and in how upper management perceives you and your work. …

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