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Be Political But Be Savvy

Be Political But Be Savvy

When we hear the term office politics it conjures up images of bickering, backstabbing, and mean co-workers. Is that really what office politics is about?

Office politics exist in every workplace. Your ability to navigate through the political environment is a skill, either learned or natural. Becoming politically savvy is not for the evil ones but for the career focused ones as well. 

Disengaging from office politics does not guarantee a progressive career. More than likely you will lose by not participating. Be political, but be savvy. Gain the skills you need to become political savvy. Here are some tips.

[Related: The Best Career Advice Women Are Not Getting]

1. Understand the dynamics of power, organization and decision making to achieve an objective. Scan the office environment to learn the key opportunities and/or challenges to your agenda/idea. Learn how to promote your idea to the right power players in the informal and formal networks. Discuss with them the projects you are working on and your achievements. These discussions can be informal such as during lunch or coffee meetings, or more formal through weekly progress reports. Letting others know of your success establishes credibility for your work, which you will need when promoting your agenda.

2. Understand the process of how decisions are made. Having strategic relationships with the power players allows you to be involved in the decision-making process. Be involved in the meetings, even before the meeting. This is where decisions are made and directions are changed. Align yourself with the influencers. They may not have a title or a corner office, but they are invited to the informal meetings (lunch, coffee, or after work functions), where agendas are sanctioned or killed.

[Related: The Questions I Ask Myself When Making Tough Decisions]

3.Leverage your internal and external networks. Agendas do not succeed in a silo. They require partnerships that cross the organization and sometimes support from professional or governing bodies outside the organization. Building these relationships is key to getting results. It also helps you from being blindsided, which can happen when the organization has had an unspoken priority shift. Informal networks are the first to know. If you are linked to these groups, you will not be left in the dark or perhaps working on projects, task forces or assignments that are no longer on the organization’s radar.

Be political. Just know which party to join, where, and how to campaign for your career.


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