Career Tip: Embrace Office Politics
“Bodacious” means to be bold, outstanding, and remarkable. Take those attributes to work and you’re on your way to building a fulfilling, bodacious career. You can do it one bodacious step at a time.
My bodacious career started as an $ 8 an hour customer service rep at the then-unknown America Online. Between surviving six layoffs, rapid change, and impossible deadline, I was promoted four times and became the company’s first head of corporate training. Out of that experience I created my “cheat sheet” of essential Bodacious Career Builders that includes Embracing Office Politics.
Are you engaged in office politics without realizing it? Ask yourself:
Have I ever…?
… gone out of my way to do something for someone in another department because I wanted them to know who I was?
… been a manager and felt it was my role and responsibility to make sure employees got their fair share of merit increases?
… had to figure out how I’m going to communicate some difficult news to the group and changes that are needed?
If you answered yes to any of these or similar questions, you’ve been engaging in office politics. You care about your relationships with others and you’re figuring out how to use your position to do something constructive.
Here are three office politics strategies to keep yourself focused and productive:
Strategy 1: Know What Winning Means to You
What’s the positive outcome you want for yourself or others? Unless you know what you’re playing for and what winning looks like, you may not realize when you’re winning.
When I was AOL’s call center manager of 250 people I knew one win to me was to recognize employees who were doing an outstanding job and recommend them to managers in other departments for promotions. I valued being promoted from within like I was and wanted to use my organizational rank and influence to help others do the same.
Strategy 2: Learn the Art of Lobbying
How do you suppose all those elected officials come to understand the intricate details of controversies, issues, and national policies? Hired experts prowl the halls of the legislative offices throughout the country and grab these policy makers every chance they get to learn about another insight or deliver a message. This is why they’re called lobbyist; they used to hang out in the lobbies of governmental office buildings and wait to get the legislator’s attention.
The famous “elevator speech” is an example of lobbying for your Bodacious Career. You can grab the attention of key movers and shakers by having a really good 60-second explanation of who you are and what you do. And that something will get their attention: Share with them something you are currently doing that ties into a department or company goal.
Be ready to take advantage of the happenstance meeting in the bathroom, fitness center, or cafeteria. You could even make getting a second cup of coffee an opportunity to introduce yourself. Be ready to share how you fit in to the bigger organizational picture and how you are helping the organization move forward. Know how you’re going to communicate what you want to say. Consider your words, your tone, and your expression.
Strategy 3: Learn the Art of Compromise
You may not be able to get all that you want so know what you’re willing to settle for. Know the difference between your non-negotiables and negotiables.
Would you be willing to forego a new job opportunity now if you knew you’d get a better opportunity in the future? Do you have the nerve to ask for that in writing?
You may not get everything you want in a certain arrangement, but you will get some of what you want if you learn to compromise. Learn to compromise well, and the part that you do get will be what you wanted most.
BODACIOUS CAREER BUILDER TIP: Accept office politics as a fact within any organization; embrace its positive potential.