How to Win at Office Politics

You’ve heard the phrase “office politics.” Whether large or small, every organization has unspoken rules that outline the behaviors that will lead to promotion and personal fulfillment.

Office politics are those unwritten guidelines that define the real culture of your organization and it’s also dealing with “mind games.”

You know…those individuals who seem to feel that pleasing the boss means making you look bad.

To win at office politics, you’ll want to learn those unspoken rules AND outsmart the office game-players.

Here are a few tips that can help:

1. Be an observer.

Ever heard the phrase “your ears are an asset and your tongue a liability”? Listen to what is being talked about by your colleagues.

Odds are if you hear a particular topic mentioned multiple times, it’s something of importance within the organization. It could give your insight into what is priority and what it not.

Also, pay attention to the people who are successful in the organization. They will show you what behaviors are being rewarded and encouraged by senior managers.

Avoid getting pulled into grapevine gossiping. “He said, she said” is not the kind of messages you’re listening for or want to be associated with.

If a topic of conversation is awkward for you, excuse yourself and walk away or tell your colleagues you don’t want to talk about that and change the subject.

2. Create good relationships.

Many people manage up. They work hard on their relationship with the bosses.

The latest research on good leadership shows that the most successful individuals build relationships throughout the organization.

They understand that everyone has value, from the mail room up through the executive suite.

Think about it. What good are leaders without followers or supporters?
Just as you would lend your support to a colleague with whom you share mutual understanding, you want to create the type of relationships throughout the organization where people get to know you and what you stand for.

3. Avoid distractions.

Every office has people who seem intent to intimidate others, gossip, and brown-nose the boss. You want to avoid getting distracted by them.

You can’t always ignore someone, but you can defeat game-players through your work. Honor your deadlines. Know your field of work.

Do what you say and mean what you say. Focus on doing the best job you can do and your work will speak volumes to the bosses.

So, what if it’s your boss who is playing games? Well, the same advice applies. You may have to listen more intently or get information from outside your department.

Try communicating through email to get what you need. Ask clear, concise questions. If your supervisor is not responsive, copy his or her supervisor on your emails, but be sure the message is work-related and not personal or full of emotion.

You’ll have written proof that you are focused on the job and not the distractions.

4. Get to know the power brokers.

Every organization has individuals who move and shake the company. When you attend office functions, help them get to know who you really are and what matters to you.

Remember, everyone has value and that includes you. Earn the respect of your colleagues by doing your job well, handling problems professionally, and sharing who you are with others.

You can win at office politics once you’ve identified organization guidelines for successful behaviors, checked your ego at the door, and begin to focus on getting results for you and the organization.