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Referred to by some as power play, the term workplace politics relates to the relationships and dynamics between employees. From Joe the CEO to Jack the janitor, every team member has the opportunity to dip their toe into the melting pot of workplace politics. You might loathe the idea of “getting involved” but its not all about forced friendships, fake smiles and whispered conversations by the coffee machine. Learn how to master workplace politics and you can tap into a wealth of power and knowledge, and if used wisely, you could even further your career.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Smile

Do you say a friendly “Good morning,” to everyone as you trundle into work every morning? We’re not just talking about giving your closest colleagues and senior contemporaries the benefit of your winning smile. Don’t just make time for those you think can further your career, make time for all of your colleagues.

Don’t underestimate the power of a smile, a few pleasantries can go a long way – helping you to become known as friendly, approachable, and a real team-player. Building good relationships with co-workers fosters trust – and being viewed as trustworthy will stand you in good stead with not only your team, but also your superiors.

Master the Art of Networking

To successfully negotiate workplace politics, you will need to get to grips with who’s who in your company. Whilst we see the benefit of taking the time to extend pleasantries to everyone, we also understand the need to identify the influencers (colleagues that stand out as well-respected and knowledgeable).

Set about building strong relationships, if you want to hear about new opportunities, and keep up to date with the latest company news, it pays to know the right people! Building robust relationships also helps you to move forward with tasks. You will find yourself able to produce better results when you have a supportive team around you, and it’s so much easier to reach out to people for help when you are already on good terms. In short, network, network, network and then network some more.

Steer Clear of Gossip and Drama

There’s a fine line between joining in with light-hearted chat and getting drawn into gossip. Negative comments made about your boss (or a fellow colleague) could easily be overheard. Remember what your granny told you – if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all! Aim to come across as honest and rational. Don’t be afraid to proffer opinions (no one expects you to be a doormat), but you don’t need to argue every point. Offer your views, but be ready to listen too. 

We spend so much time with our colleagues, sharing a space and resources, so there’s bound to be the occasional difference of opinion. Conflict comes as standard, but don’t put yourself front and centre of every drama – resolve to remain professional and keep a cool head. You will naturally be drawn to certain colleagues over others (you can’t like everyone) but try not to get sucked into one group. Aim to integrate with colleagues at all levels – and play nicely!

Don’t Clamber Over Your Colleagues During Your Ascent

It’s fine to use workplace politics to your advantage, increase your presence and power – but don’t tread on your co-workers in a bid to get to the top. Workplace politics can easily spill over into intense competition, and you will inevitably come face to face with an ambitious employee who is willing to be ruthless. Never push past colleagues in a bid to take the next promotion, you could be working with that co-worker again at some point – hey they might even become your boss one day!

Convey a Positive Image

You can use workplace politics to promote yourself and convey a positive image.

Don’t put on a big act in a bid to make new friends and influence people, it’s better to be you (just make sure you show off the best version of yourself)! We’ve already touched on being approachable – you can also showcase your talents and skills by being helpful. A whizz on the computer? Then help out a colleague with their power-point presentation. You could call it currying favour, but if you have certain skills why not put them to good use?

You will not only gain a few valuable allies (assist a colleague and they will be more likely to lend you a helping hand in return), you will also draw attention to your abilities at the same time – win, win.

Strategically Buy into Workplace Politics – Don’t Ignore Them!

It’s tempting to absolve yourself from workplace politics, to simply keep your head down and focus on your own job. However, ignoring what is going around you isn’t conducive to furthering your career. Resilience is a great attribute, show support for your colleagues, and back up your team. This might mean voicing strong opinions, but provided you do it in a professional manner (rather than jumping in with two feet and forcing your views down co-worker’s throats), you should be fine!

Learn to become a great observer and listener. Construct relationships with colleagues that are based on mutual respect. It’s fine to share your thoughts and ideas – but be mindful of what you are saying, and appreciate others may take a different view.

Workplace Politics – Worth the Trouble?

We’re all for embracing workplace politics:

·     Champion your work ethic.

·     Commit to being part of the team and support your colleagues.

·     Don’t get embroiled in drama and gossip.

·     Build relationships based on trust and respect. 

·     Convey a positive image and take time out to say hello!

·     Ignore workplace politics at your peril!

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