Office politics has been around since Roman times. In this video, Roberta Matuson, The Talent Maximizer, demystifies office politics in the workplace and provides advice on how you can use politics to your benefit. No matter what your personal feelings are about office politics, you’re in the game, so develop a strategy, and play to win.
- In my first executive job, I got taken out by a wave I never saw coming. Office politics. I had no idea there were so many unwritten rules at work, nor did I understand how office politics works. Since then, I have become an expert on office politics and now successfully coach clients through sticky political situations. So let me give you some tips to deal with office politics like a pro.
Office politics is a game that is played in every organization, non-profit, government agency, private company, or family owned businesses. There is always a round of politics being played somewhere. So it's important to understand that politics isn't just about manipulation. It's about using power effectively. When I talk about power, I'm talking about the ability to get things done through other people.
People who wield power effectively follow unwritten rules that allow them to swiftly maneuver through the organization to obtain resources, approval of prized projects, and promotions. As a leader, you need to have a share of the power in your organization to get your people the resources they need to be successful. There are two sources of power. The first is position power. This is the formal authority you have based solely on your position.
So for example, if you're the department manager, you'll have more power and authority than someone who is a supervisor. The other type of power is personal power. This is based on your ability to influence others. The amount of personal power is directly related to the amount of trust you've established with others in the organization. Let me give you an example of using your personal power to move your agenda forward.
Your company has a hiring freeze. But you're known for running a lean team. You use your personal power to convince your boss to approve your request for a new hire. You succeed because of your reputation. Your boss trusts you to have the company's best interest at heart. On the other hand, a colleague who has a history of empire building, makes a similar request and it is denied.
This scenario is a reminder of why it is critical to establish strong relationships up, down, and across the organization. Office politics and chess have a lot in common. Both require a strategy going into the game, constantly assessing the competition and staying one step ahead. Let me give you the four keys to avoid checkmate, which is part of the work I share with people in my private coaching programs.
First, know the other players. Who will advocate on your behalf and who won't? The office grapevine can tell you who would like to see others succeed, and who'd drive right over you if given the keys to a John Deere tractor. Second, think before moving. I'm not saying you have to analyze every move you make, however, I am suggesting that you think through your moves carefully, and anticipate what might happen next.
Third, learn from your mistakes. You don't get to be a master chess player if you don't learn from your mistakes. If you make a political mistake, you may get a second chance, but most likely, not a third or a fourth. That's why you need to learn from your mistakes and become a better manager because of them. Fourth, play quietly. A master of office politics moves around the organization with as little fanfare as possible and operates under the radar.
He or she gets what they need and swiftly moves on while others are still battling it out. No matter what your personal feelings are about office politics, you're in the game, so develop a strategy and play to win.
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- Decoding your boss's management style
- Managing your boss
- Building strong relationships
- Avoiding mistakes
- Dealing with office politics
- Ensuring your next play is the right move
- Communicating effectively
- Bridging a generation gap
- Being heard
- Tooting your own horn strategically