Let's talk about office politics – what exactly is it, and how can you better understand your office's political environment and use these findings to your advantage?
A simple google search will tell you that office politics are: "actions and behaviour involving competition for status or power in a workplace." Regarding the terminology, "competition," "status," "power" – it can make the prospect of office politics sound rather confronting… but it doesn't have to be.
Now let's talk about positive office politics. Here are some effective approaches to positive office politics that you can implement to help you navigate your workplace and elevate your career.
Connections are crucial and should not be limited to one-tier. Relationships need to be across the spectrum, including those in lower positions to yourself, your peers, and your superiors. Spreading your network across the tiers will ensure you are recognised as a valued staff member by many.
Mature your "people skills”.
It is important you know how to engage effectively and adapt your style of engagement to the situation. Informally or formally develop your interpersonal skills by attending classes, watching Ted Talks, or getting real-world practice by going to networking events. Like any skill it is good to practice. If you're leaving people feeling great after every exchange, that is a sure-fire way to be taken seriously, be trusted, and recognised in the business. Learning about your DiSC style is a great way to understand yourself and others better in the workplace.
Make the most of your network.
Your network has a network with a broader network – I could keep going, but I think you get the point. It is highly beneficial to nurture your current network by keeping in touch and genuinely checking in. This could be a previous manager or colleague who has moved to a new department. Get to know the moves they are making, and the people they are now involved with. Use your network, to build your network.
If you're in a place to help, help.
As we are in the driver's seat of our own life, we can forget that we are the passenger of others. What I mean by that is, you are part of other’s network. If you find you can help someone or put them onto someone in your network, do it! It is the old trick of what goes around comes around – and you could be responsible for something magic happening.
In summary, office politics doesn't have to be scary, harmful, or feel like high school. As long as you are a strong communicator, present your authentic-self, and stretch your connections from the bottom to the top, nurturing your network along the way, you will be a valued employee—capable, confident, and cool.