Competitive co-workers. Difficult bosses. Jealousy over promotions. No matter which industry you call your professional home, it seems there’s no escaping office politics, probably because it’s human nature to compare, contrast and, yes, compete.
“Employees need to know and understand that office politics exist in the corporate world,” says Ricklyn Woods, a career advisor at University of Phoenix. “It’s not going anywhere.”
While office politics can look many different ways, they usually boil down to career progression. Watching Gary from down the hall get one coveted project or promotion after another can ruffle even the most complacent employee’s feathers.
Sometimes, a lack of promotion is your own fault because you aren’t requesting feedback or upskilling as necessary. Other times, it’s also your fault because you don't have a strategy for playing the politics game.
“We’re all in the game whether we want to be or not,” Woods says. “We all have a part to play in it.”
The trick, Woods goes on to explain, is to play that role authentically. You have to know what your goal is, whether it’s a promotion or a lead role (or just a role) on a project. Then, you have to figure out the strategy to accomplish it while honoring your own boundaries.
More often than not, that path involves cultivating and leveraging the right workplace relationships. Woods likens it to national politics. If someone wants to get elected, they have to meet with their prospective constituents and learn how they can serve them or add value.
The same goes for the workplace. “Employees need to build a following of people who see them as someone who they can visualize moving up.”
Part of that means making valuable contributions. Part of that means navigating office politics. Your skills and experience can inform the former. The following five steps will help you with the latter.