Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Office politics. Sometimes it’s just an undercurrent running through the office. Other times, it’s a blatant, in your face situation where sides have been chosen – winners and losers identified. Siding with the wrong group at the wrong time can have a devastating effect on your rise in the company.
Here is how to navigate through the muck and mire to make office politics work to your advantage:
Identify the Influencers – Sure, everyone likes to feel they have some pull when it comes to decision making. Unfortunately some do not have the pull they think they have. Here is where you need to utilize your observation skills. Besides your boss, who is the "go-to" person in the organization? Is it quiet, unassuming Susan sitting over in the corner? Is she the one who seems to be the “go to” person to get answers and solve problems? It does not matter if Susan is not a supervisor; she has pull. Supervisors even go to her for advice. Susan is an influencer. In other words, Susan is a good person to know.
Speaking of bosses, what about your boss? Even though your boss may have position and title, it means little in the world of office politics. Look at how upper manager deals with your boss. Are they friendly? Do they stop and chat? Or, is your boss the last person to find out all the latest news? If your boss is not a management favorite, she will not be able to knock down all the barriers standing in the way of your promotion. She does not have pull. Work hard for your boss, but save your schmoozing efforts for the major influencers in the organization. Popularity can shift so keep an eye on the opinion tide. You need to know if anyone in particular is always on the right side of every issue.
So how do you make this work for you?
Develop a growth plan and find support. Figure out what you need in order to rise to the top. Get input from all of the organizational influencers to determine what will propel you forward or backwords.
Become a mentor. What better way to build loyalty then to become a mentor for another up and coming employee? The more people you bring up the ranks, the more loyalty you gain. You can become quite the influencer.
Seize new opportunities. Find struggling areas within the company and offer your expertise. Perform the task well and you will get your name up on the “wall of fame.”
Just remember, when it comes to getting ahead in an organization, it may just come down to office politics as to whether or not you get that promotion.