Let us talk about office politics.
Love it or hate it, there is no getting away from it.
Regardless of the structure – hierarchical or flat, all offices will have some form of politics – essentially, the activities or behaviours used to acquire and wield powers and responsibility.
And here’s the kicker – office politics is not bad.
It’s just like school or college – you need to figure out where you are in the social hierarchy, where you want to be, and the way to get there.
It’s only when politics gets out of hand that it becomes toxic.
So how to successfully navigate office politics?
Here are 4 tips for newbies to office politics (before you ask, no, we are not going to share the dark arts of office politics).
Don’t be too innocent
Do not consider yourself to be above office politics. Even if you do not want to indulge in it, be aware of the game being played around you. This will help you choose your actions in a way that protects your integrity and preserves your career.
Different people have different motivations. And if you want to engage with them and get them to agree with you, you need to understand their motivations. What makes them tick? What do they want to get out of the project or task? Remember that even in a single team, not all team members may have the same motivations. For instance, in a project, the marketing team member may be interested in driving a large number of app installs whereas the category lead may be more interested in driving conversions.
Observe successful people
In any organization, successful people are folks who have, intentionally or otherwise, learned to navigate office politics. Observe them. Try to dissect what makes them so successful. Does someone have a great grip on numbers? Does someone else have a lot of valuable industry contacts? Or does a team member specialise in turning around projects? Bring as many of these valuable skills and behaviours into your arsenal.
Work on your communication skills. Business acumen and a pleasant demeanour will not get you anywhere if you can’t connect with your peers and superiors. Additionally, communicating well will help you avoid the sort of misunderstandings that cause office drama.
In summary, office politics is not a bad thing, and indeed, it’s a necessity to help you advance your career. Just make sure you know how to play it without compromising your integrity.