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Atif Khan suggests tips that one can follow to survive politics at work
Surviving the mean halls of workplace is no lean task. Ask anyone and you’ll know that in order to successfully climb your way up the ladder, besides merit one has to be witty and sharp and should know when to talk and when to keep silent. Pretty much all that holds true for personal life, applies to the professional life as well.
The game of office politics is played at all levels. From the tea-boy to the CEO’s office, a mind game of sorts is always in progress.
People will often tell you to steer clear from workplace politics. If you don’t get involved in anything that doesn’t concern you, you will be in the all clear. In theory, this may sound perfect but in reality those of us who’ve experienced all, know it’s otherwise.
If you occupy a quiet corner of the workplace, without being socially active, chances are that it might create a negative impression and can affect your career growth. In a place where one spends at least half the day, it is but natural to form cordial relationships. But mingling with colleagues without getting embroiled in politics is an art few can excel in. There will always be certain ‘well-wishers’ who would want to draw you into his/her clique, or those who’d want to share some juicy gossip. Then there are those for whom you become a human hanky. All these may seem innocuous, but in many cases, these very reasons lay the foundation of workplace politics.
So how does one survive this? The best thing to do is to at least understand the core values of your company. After that, start observing. It’s never a good idea to immediately start asserting yourself. Nobody’s appreciates a Mr-know-it-all, even if you are one. Take some time to achieve a basic knowledge of your surroundings, get to know your co-workers and your subordinates.
Most importantly, give them due respect.
One mistake a lot of people make is to assert authority over the reporting staff. Don’t. Observe decorum and follow accordingly.
A tip to remember here is to profile the personalities that you interact with most, especially bosses. Observe their style of work and their networking, and most importantly observe how they meet their deadlines. Above everything else, start getting positive results.
Once in a while, it’s a good idea to toot your own horn. This doesn’t mean that you show off. But if people don’t know of your good work, then that is something that your detractors will make use of when the opportunity strikes. Grouping and aligning yourself with a particular set of people is also something that should be avoided. Make friends at work, but don’t fix yourself with a set of people. Management could change overnight. And those set of people who were in the good books, could suddenly be ousted.
Always keep your cool. Parasitical co-workers who try to take credit for your work are everywhere. Instead of going head-on with the pesky colleague, talk to the boss. But, what if that person is your boss, taking credit for your ideas and getting a better increment that you? For such an eventuality, put everything on email. Putting your progress on record ensures that no one can take credit for your hard work.
In the end, be confident, not arrogant, but your good work, good communications skills and good behaviour should definitely be complimented with a confident demeanour. This way, if anyone does try to take you for a ride, or try and involve you in a game of politics, you should be able to say no to something that you don’t stand for.