When you are out in the business world, whether it be as a house painter or a lawyer, you will almost always encounter some form of office politics. If you are lucky, you will find employment with a good, decent firm that has a fine management team, but you have to be prepared for the reverse to be the case.
It is a sad fact of life today that some companies actually like to play employees against each other. Some see it as a means of toughening the workers, or winnowing out the weak. Given the highly competitive nature of business today, that can be understood, to some extent. So, how do you overcome the pitfalls of office politics?
Okay, first of all, there is building good business relationships with your co-workers. This does not mean you have to be best friends; you do not even have to associate with each other outside of work, but it does mean being friendly, courteous and helpful. Sometimes something as simple as noticing their family pictures on their desk and asking about their wife/husband and kids every once in a while is enough, and when they tell you about them, try to pay attention. Nothing can be more counter-productive than you getting glassy-eyed as they are talking.
Then there is how you act in the office. Do you waste time chewing the fat and gossiping about other people? Remember, if you talk about employee “A" with employee “B", employee “B" may figure you are doing the same about them. Then there is your work ethic. Do you play computer games or surf the web when you should be working? Do you promise to do things and then not follow through? Then there is your appearance. Do you dress appropriately for the work you do? Lounging around the office in very tight or revealing clothes is not the best image to present to clients and co-workers.
Now, what about dealing with the office politics of others? If you have a supervisor who constantly “puts you through the ringer", how do you survive? A boss who says one thing and does the other, or says one thing one day and then denies it the next can drive you crazy. Well, that is where memos and e-mails can save your skin, and your sanity. If you have a meeting with a boss and he / she gives you a series of orders, takes notes on everything you are told to do. Then, go back to your office, write them up as an e-mail, and send them to your boss. Also, print them out and stick them in a file. That way, you are covering yourself and have documentation as to what you were told. Then there are the bosses and co-workers who ask you to do things: create a series of plans, write a report etc. and then want you to turn everything over to them. Then, once they “lose" your work, you get the blame. Here again, documentation is the key: keep a copy of what you give them.
You might wonder, why would a boss or co-worker want to sabotage you? That is where higher level office politics can come into play. It may not be about you at all. Maybe you got hired and put in a position that someone else wanted. Or, partner A hired you, and thus partner B sees you as a threat to the balance of power within the company. From the moment you start work, partner B could be out to get you. That can be a real tough situation to overcome. In that case, aligning yourself with the staff loyal to partner ‘A’ can be the best way of dealing with the problem. It may not be perfect, but short of finding a new job, it's the best method of overcoming a severe case of office politics.
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report that reveals how to crush procrastination and sustain lasting motivation. Apply now because it is available for a limited time only at: http://www.getmotivatedstaymotivated.com/blog