If you’ve ever had to work in a typical Nigerian office, you’d have noticed the killer looks colleagues throw at each other, the lunch hour group chats held in whispers, the cliques, the enemies, etc. However, like so many other things, office politics is a fact of life and not central to Nigeria. The issue has always been how to not abuse office politics but instead use it to get ahead in our careers.
The first step to effectively dealing with office politics is accepting the reality of it. Once you’ve done this, you then need to develop strategies to deal with the political behaviour around you and build yourself a strong network to operate in.
Here are some tips:
1. Know who’s who
To make office politics work for you, first understand who the real influencers are –those with authority, the respected/disrespected, the high-achievers, and the brains behind the organization.
Once you know who’s who in the organization, start studying the dynamics of informal relationships so you can have a good idea of where the real power and influence lay. Now, you have to understand who gets along with whom, office groups or cliques, those who hardly get along with others, and the influence flow between the different parties.
2. Build relationships
Now that you know what the formal and informal relationships look like, you need to build your own social network. Get to know the politically-powerful people in the organization. Build relationships across the hierarchy –from peers, to bosses and executives.
Though it’s smart to be friendly with everyone, never align yourself with any group or clique. This way, you can keep your finger on the pulse of the organization.
3. Use your network positively
As you build relationships, you also need to learn how to use them to promote yourself and your team positively. It is up to you to now leverage on the relationships you’ve built to communicate yours and your team’s abilities to the right people.
Use can your network to access information, make your achievements more visible, attract opportunities, and make your team look good.
4. Keep your enemies closer
It’s natural to want to distance yourself from people you deem difficult or ‘enemies’ as much as possible. But what you truly should consider is the opposite reaction. To “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, get to know your colleagues better, be courteous, and very careful of what you say. Realize that a typical ‘enemy’ usually relies on aggressive politicking to get ahead in the office space.
Understand the goals and motivation of these kind people. This way, you can learn how to avoid or counter the impact of their negative politicking.
5. Be observant
Through careful observation, you’can identify positive behaviours to emulate. Some of the general standards to observe are:
- By all means, avoid gossip, questionable judgments,and rumours.
- Do not get sucked into arguments and interpersonal conflicts.
- Maintain professional credibility integrity at all times.
- Avoid whining and undue complains.
- Be confident and assertive where necessary but not aggressive.
- When voicing objections, ensure it is from an organizational perspective not a personal one.
We bet you found these tips helpful. Share your thoughts in the comments section!