The Lazy Worker’s Guide to Office Politics

Found in my office
Originally uploaded by kaymoshusband

No matter where you are in your career, you are bound to come into contact with office politics. Like all kinds of politics, however, sometimes it works in your favour, other times it can tear your heart out.

Early in my career I got caught in some office politics and suffered badly from it. But, it did not kill me … in fact, it made me a whole lot wiser. But really, I would have preferred to know a little about what to expect … so I have put together a few tips that you can share around the office (this is important, see tip #3).

1. Dress for your NEXT job. Remember that management are always looking out for the leaders … and while the quality of your work matters, you need to register on the radar of those who make decisions. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to dress-to-impress. (Of course, sometimes this means wearing black jeans or fancy custom shoes.)

2. Listen more than you speak. In the world where politics rules (ie the workplace), you will be judged by what you say. You need to be careful to listen to the conversations around you before you jump into them.

3. Spot the players. In every offers there are a number of people who do things behind the scenes. Some "make things happen", others "know the secrets". There are the "gatekeepers" and there are the "toxic talkers". There are also the great "career vortexes". Learn who is who in your office — each will have a role in your success and your failures.

4. Make someone look good. If you can find a way to make someone look good, then their success will rub off on you. Now you do need to be careful that you don’t simply become fodder for the career vortexes who will take all your information and goodwill and pass it off as their own. But they can help you at least a little if you can stand it.

5. Share the good stuff and take the blame. If you are getting rave reviews, then it is likely that you had some form of help. By including others in your success you will build stronger networks while also demonstrating that you understand the value of teamwork. Also, if something has gone wrong (and it is your fault), put your hand up. You will be found out eventually.

6. Visit desks. It is easy to send emails or instant messages. It is even easy to pick up the phone. But if you can find a way to make a visit (even for no reason other than to say hello) to someone’s desk they will soon see that you dont just want something for nothing.

I am sure there are plenty of other tips, but these are proven to work. Have a good day at work!

6 thoughts on “The Lazy Worker’s Guide to Office Politics

  1. Oh, how I miss the days of working for another (not!) Great suggestions, Gavin. These do work and should be considered, if promotions matter to your readers.
    Blessings of peace for the holiday season.

  2. good pointers Gavin.
    On point number 4, making others look good, I guess the thing is helping others without compromising your own work efforts. I think the attitude of “don’t help or others will take the glory is something that prevents people from sharing on blogs or wikis.”
    But it’s the very reason people should be writing their own blogs, to share their own unique opinion.
    Too many ideas are not shared and developed for fear of being stolen. Help others. Align yourself with great people.
    Have a great Christmas!

  3. Yes, yes and yes to #6. So easy now to not communicate. I spend half my day walking around visiting. I don’t answer voice mail, I go visit someone. Not hard, but takes time and effort, and we all need more of that!
    Thanks for the list, helpful to charge into 08.

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