The following article contains 6 key strategies to help keep you focused on your professional progress amidst the sea of internal workplace politics.
Politics are everywhere. As much as we would like these irritating axioms to not be so consistently accurate, they usually are correct. Politics are found in every possible work place situation. In order to find yourself at the top of your professional game and insulated by the harmful effects of workplace politics, there are some key strategies that can be helpful.
Internal workplace politics are widespread and there are some companies that will welcome them and others that try to reduce the destructive activity. The level of internal squabbling, ego stroking and undermining in a given agency depends on the overall values and commitment of people who make up the company. The following tips can help you to rise above the common pitfalls of workplace politics.
Present Yourself Honestly From the Moment of Introduction to the Company
When you first apply for a position with a company, each entry on your resume, including writing a dissertation, and the comments you make in an interview must be true. An employee needs to be able to deliver on the duties that he or she presents to the company as his or her current skill set. You do not need to know everything, but you need to know when to admit a weakness and have a strategy as to how to improve this limitation.
Honesty allows for a confidence in both the employee and the employer that the job in question can be fulfilled. Providing that the company itself was upfront and clear with the job description, after completing the initial training process you should feel capable of doing the tasks at a satisfactory standard. Solid work that produced the desired outcome speaks for itself and is the best defence against a rival co-worker, bent on improving their standing by tearing yours down.
Expand Your Portfolio as You Go
It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind of a workday. At regular intervals, it is important to take some personal time to go over the projects, newsletters, or initiatives that you have been responsible for, either on your own or as the project coordinator. Collect copies of your finished work in a portfolio. Such a portfolio will act as a source of confidence which will inspire you to accomplish more goals if not for the company, then for your own professional progress.
A common way that office politics will play out in the workplace is during competition for projects, or being placed in a leadership role for certain initiatives. An employer who values the success of his or her company will want to place the responsibility in the hands of an employee who has proven their worth. A comprehensive portfolio will help to organize your argument for being awarded the coveted position.
Keep a Paper Trail
This tactic differs from building a portfolio in that you are keeping written documentation of conversations between either colleagues or clients. When important issues come up that need your supervisor’s input or decision making, it is wise to send an email to initiate the conversation. This way, as events progress, if errors or misunderstandings take place there is a trail of information that can be retraced to discover the point of miscommunication. If your job allows communication via email with clients, then this is also a preferred method as print out can be used as hard copies in files.
The caveat with using emails is to always remain professional when communicating with your supervisor, co-workers and clients. There is a strong tendency for emails to be full of casual references and smiley faces. To avoid embarrassment and to maintain credibility: avoid the emoticons.
Do Not Engage in Malicious Gossip with Co-workers.
Just don’t. It is often a challenge to avoid the titillating conversations about the boardroom/bedroom/barroom antics of co-workers. These conversations are everywhere. The best course of actions is to remove yourself from the conversations once they start, as this will make it easier to resist the temptation to make any candid editorials. If you cannot fight the need to know, stay, but stay silent. One of the most common tools used by workplace saboteurs is to repeat disparaging comments made during a casual gossip session, in a professional setting to detract from your credibility.
Leave Your Emotions Outside
Getting overlooked for the promotion or the big project can be disheartening and angering. However, lashing out or giving into the immense disappointment you feel while in the presence of a supervisor or co-worker can be risky. No one expects you to welcome disappointment, but you are expected to be a good sport.
By demonstrating you can handle a frustrating outcome with grace, an employer will remain confident that you can deal with stress and may look to you next time for an important assignment. In addition to displaying grace, ask for an opportunity to discuss why you were not chosen for the assignment or position. If there are challenges or weakness identified by the employer, you now have important insights for your professional development.
Evaluation of Values
Ultimately the best way to overcome workplace polictics and enjoy job satisfaction is to do your job and do it well. Respect others, understand boundaries and be your own best advocate for your skills. These strategies are for people to value personal and professional integrity. There are several workplaces that unfortunately are not built or compatible values. At times the internal politics seem too entrenched for you to be able to carve out a comfortable niche. In situations were the negatives and struggles outweigh you job satisfaction, a move to new job may be in order.