Strategies for Managing Office Politics

You felt like one of the fortunate ones. In this difficult market, you interviewed well, got a job offer you’re excited about, and are already into your first weeks on the new job.

Everything should be going well, right?

Wrong.

From the first days, you’ve been feeling unsettled. You chalk it up to being new and not having settled in yet.

But the weeks go on and the feeling continues. And now you’re picking up other things: the sense that you have not been accepted, the whispering that seems to occur, the jokes you don’t get, etc.

What the heck is happening?

Well, you’ve hit office politics, in all its glory.

If dealing with office intrigue and hidden agendas has never been your forte, you’re not alone. But now you’ve been forced to face the music or risk hitting a damaging speed bump in your career.

Here are 6 success strategies to help you:

  1. Find a mentor – Someone who understands the company’s culture, who might be in a more senior role and who seems amenable to showing you the ropes. How to find this person? Look for someone that does not engage in gossip and who you “click with.”
  2. Listen and watch – Those who do well in your company’s culture. How do they conduct themselves and/or contribute in meetings? Look for several things: body language, how they dress, their manner, are they formal or casual in delivery, their words? Emulate this person.
  3. Form strategic alliances – With those in power. Go the extra mile to volunteer your assistance. You will gain a valuable champion.
  4. Curb any immediate reactions and knee-jerk emails – One ill-timed word or response can cause irreparable harm to your reputation. Pause before you speak or write. Make sure your communications are “charge neutral” and carry no negative emotions.
  5. Use humor – to deflect any missteps. If you can lighten the conversation, when appropriate, people will seek you out.
  6. Ask for second-party endorsements – for a job well done. Request that the manager of the project pass along words of your good performance to your boss.

Office politics is in every environment. Whenever you have 2 or more people in a room, you will experience conflicting opinions, agendas and modes of operating.

This may not be what you signed-for, as you think, “I just want to do my job, this other stuff is emotionally exhausting and wasting my time!”

But hold on. The higher you climb in a company, the trickier the footing. Why? Because your colleagues have been well schooled in how to influence others and push their agendas forward. They will have dominant personalities and sharpened political skills.

So, if you want to be successful, you’re going to need to learn the political know-how to thrive.