Office politics article written for the Dec. 5, 2016, Orange County Business Journal
Cersei Lannister said it best: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” It may often feel much the same at work. Whether you want to play or not, it’s called office politics. Some days are filled with conflict, alliances and intrigue: all in the row of cubicles you call work home. So how can you play without losing your head . . . so to speak?
- Put the kingdom—er, organization—first
Yes, advancement is important, and you’re in competition for limited opportunities. And you should talk about your accomplishments, but not at others’ expense. A laser-focus on personal gain can undermine the team’s objectives and hurt the big picture. You’re all working toward creating a successful organization!
Be your organization’s wise-one: observe, listen and learn how decisions and influence are managed. What are the organization’s core values? Are short or long-term results more valued? Knowing these priorities will help match your skills to the organization needs.
- Choose allies
While a strong central support can help you gain ground now, a better long-term strategy is to build allies across the organization. Be interested in what everyone does—it’s a business, not just a department. Don’t affiliate with one group only; a key individual’s departure can change the organization map and wipe out that promotion you wanted.
- Thwart enemies
Anyone can be a victim of character or accomplishment sabotage. Occasional complaining may earn you the label “problem child,” but inaction can hurt your advancement. Stay calm, investigate, and talk about a resolution with your boss or Human Resources. There are peace treaties to be had with folks in your office.
In the words of King Robert: “. . . sitting on a throne is a thousand times harder than winning one.” If office politics get too ruthless, you can always cross the sea to new lands. And who knows, you might come back with a dragon.
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