And You Thought the Political Season Was Over

cherylSurviving office politics.
Phew, all finished, the votes are in. I am betting there were many out there that were quite glad when the national elections were over. Unless you are a politician, it can get quite tiresome, the “he said, she said” and maneuvering for power. Let’s get back to work. So, we go into the office to find a different kind of politics.

We all know it’s there and I have yet to meet a person who admits to being good at it. I’m in that “political party.” Each time I bring the topic up in a workshop I facilitate my participants beg me to teach a class about handling office politics. My answer is usually, I can only tell you what not to do. So for this blog, I rely on a couple of experts. Perhaps we can learn together maybe not how to survive the political world.

There are those who will say that not all office politics is bad. I’m betting they are the ones good at it. These experts even go so far to say that if you say it’s bad it is just because you are not good at it. Wow, does that sound like political double talk?

How to Survive

Writers from Robert Half (staffing agency) and Forbes (magazine) have the following suggestions and I’ll elaborate on how to survive office politics.

• Build a broad coalition of support: Win the respect of everyone in the office from the mailroom to the board room. One way to do this is to share the credit when things go well and always keep your promises.

• Connect with your constituents: The smart politician speaks the language of the people. Learn the “language” of your co-workers. A great book that may help is “The 5 Love Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman. Keep them in the loop. This is just good networking.

• Avoid smear campaigns or email and telephone gossip: Stick to the facts. Be tactful. Avoid mudslinging. If you keep giving someone a piece of you mind you will not have much of a mind left.

• Watch what you say “in confidence”: Assume that whatever you say will get back to whoever.

• Get to know the people who practice bad politics: Don’t avoid them get to know them better, figure out what makes them tick. This may at least keep you from being their target.

• Stay true to your values: Some people will do anything to get ahead and lose themself in the process. Jobs come and go you live with yourself forever.

• Play by the rules: Meaning those written in policy as well as the “unspoken” ones.

When Robert Half surveyed 400 workers and over 60% said the office politics was at least somewhat necessary to get ahead. This being the case it would be wise if we all get involved because only 40% are not political.

There is an old adage that says elections are won by those who show up. Show up and start campaigning. I hope you keep getting elected.

Cheryl Sandifer is a Regional Facilitator with Workforce Solutions. In that role she has been able to apply her knowledge and experience as both an educator and social worker to conduct job search skills seminars throughout the Houston-Galveston area. She has had opportunity to work with those ranging from entry-level to C-level to help them find a job, keep a job, or get a better job.



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