Oh, the thrill – or agony – of office politics. Office politics can be a game that spurs you ahead in your career, or if you go about it clumsily, can be a detriment that makes it harder for you to succeed, even if you are good at your job. There are three things you should ascertain to help you win at the game of office politics. Because in reality, it’s not a game. Your career could be riding on how well you navigate the waters.
Who Is Really in Control?
You might think your boss is in control, and obviously of many things he or she is. But what about the person who wields control in ways you wouldn’t expect? For example, sometimes an office manager can hold a great deal of control. Maybe they decide who gets to see the boss and when. Maybe they help decide how projects are doled out and who gets the best ones. Maybe they decide when and where meetings happen – and schedule them to your benefit or not.
Sometimes someone who has been in the office forever can have more control than you would imagine – regardless of their official title.
How Can You Interact with Them?
Knowing who has the power can help you know how to interact. While no one would ever advocate you being “phony,” sometimes you find that the person who holds control over whether the boss is “busy,” is someone you should develop a strong working relationship with. If this person routinely blocks your requests to get on the schedule or have a lunch with your boss, it could be that somehow you are doing something that is making them not want to put you on their good side. See if you can instead schedule a meeting or lunch with them to investigate the best way to work together.
Furthermore, if there’s someone in particular who hands out new accounts, take care to let him or her know how hard you are working and the outcome of the last account they gave you. Prove that you are worthy of plum assignments and that you appreciate their consideration. Looping them in to your progress can help them perceive you as an ally – and someone they want to help.
What’s Happening Above?
And finally, consider the politics of those in positions above you. Going above your boss to complain to your boss’s boss makes your boss – and you – look bad. Always be judicious about how you interact with your boss’ superiors because he or she is trying to impress them, just as you are trying to impress your own superior. By making your boss look good, you can help raise your own profile with your superior – and make yourself look good too.
By observing how power is used and by whom in your office, you can learn to play – and win – the game of office politics.