Knowing how to effectively navigate work place politics can be the most bewildering aspect of managing your career. Many men and women report that they feel underprepared for these scenarios, particularly because the topic is not addressed in formal business education settings. Our Leadership Coach, Katie Kelley provided tips on how you can best manage how power is being played out at your workplace.
Tip #1: Reframe Work Place Politics as the Business of Relationships
The first step in becoming better equipped to approach politics in your workplace is to simply reframe this terrain as the 'business of relationship building'. Rather than viewing this arena as something 'dirty' or to be avoided, approach this uncomfortable terrain head on in a person to person context. Meaning to isolate each scenario singularly and work on each related relationship individually.
Tip # 2: Differentiate Personal Relationships from Transactional Relationships
There is a vast difference between personal relationships, such as those with our family and friends versus transactional relationships that are primarily based on an exchange of goods, services or money. It is critical that you define the line between the two as well as acknowledge that some relationships can be both, but being clear when there is a transactional aspect to your relationship (such as with your boss, your peers, your customers, vendors, etc). When there is a transactional dynamic to your relationship, be mindful that you are fulfilling your end of the bargain as well as their reciprocity to you. There should be an even bargaining of value to one another.
Tip # 3: Evaluate What Patterns Are Holding You Back at Work
Consider ways that you may be even unconsciously shirking from your power and holding back on providing your greatest value to your company. Are you getting in your own way sometimes of asking for and getting what you need to perform at you very best? If so, what can you do to stop undermining your own power?
Tip # 4: Observe how Promotion is awarded at Your Workplace
The best way to understand how you can navigate the road towards promotion and getting what you want at your workplace is observing how those in senior levels have already accomplished this end. I will give an example of about the difference between some male and female attorney's immediately following a trial win to highlight how men tend to be better at boasting about their accomplishments then women.
Tip # 5: Learn to Fight for Your Corner
In pulling all of these tips together, remember to pay attention to the culture of your company, to effectively accentuate your point of view and to devise a clear plan for getting what you want and need to continue to be a successful key player for your company. Be clear about what is non-negotiable for you and what you are willing to be flexible about as it relates to your career and your company's bottom line. Finally, leaning into a supportive network of mentors, sponsors and experts will only further boost your likelihood of navigating the business of relationships as well.