Managing Office Politics (It’ll Boost Your Personal Brand)
Aha Moment: Build your network to use office politics to your advantage.
Just because you don’t like office politics doesn’t mean you can ignore it.
Office politics is part of working in any organization, no matter how great it is.
Instead of trying to avoid it, learn how to use these office-politics basics to your advantage and to help build your personal brand.
What is it?
Office politics are strategies people use to get ahead at work, but it’s usually viewed negatively, as people assume that the employee is putting his or her own good ahead of the good of the organization.
It is possible to have good office politics, which workers can use to promote themselves in a fair manner. In this case, the term “office politics” no longer fits. Instead, employees refer to it as networking or stakeholder management.
Be the boss over politics
Office politicking is a reality. There’s simply no way around it. If you observe your workplace carefully, you can build a good network around you to use these politics to your advantage.
- Gather information. Before you can work out how to harness political power, you need to identify the movers and shakers. Just watch how things operate in your office for awhile. Then, identify the people who truly have influence (not just titles), who have power but doesn’t use it, or the people most of the employees respect, etc.
- Get to know the lay of the land. In addition to identifying the people at the top, you’ll also need to have a sense of how the social networks in your organization function. Who is buddy-buddy? Which employees make up a clique? Who causes the most conflict? Who has trouble getting along? Does manipulation or respect form the foundation of relationships?
- Start building. Now that you have a sense of the inner workings of your organization, you can begin building your network. Make friends with politically powerful people, instead of shying away from them. Build relationships across the spectrum; don’t just go for the higher-ups, but think laterally, too. Include people in your network that hold power informally. Grow connections based on respect and trust; don’t fake it. Create connections across groups and networks.
- Listen. You can gain a lot of insight just from listening to people in your network. Take the time to learn and you’ll get access to critical information, grow your visibility, improve problematic relationships, and identify opportunities to make yourself look good.
- Monitor Progress. Managing office politics is an ongoing process that will help you navigate your career advancement. Build a personal board of advisors, and start boosting your communication frequency by tracking how often you connect with key stakeholders. But remember, it’s not just the quantity of communication that matters. It’s also the quality of the relationships you build.
Above all, the best way to manage your position within your office’s culture is to maintain integrity. This is where your personal brand comes into play.
If you stay out of the gossip and rumors, avoid arguments and whining, and keep confidential matters to yourself, you’ll build a great personal brand within the organization.
Learning to play the game the right way may also lead to more power for you, so that you can influence office politics for the best and keep your career going in the right direction.