Career / Corporate & Me / Work

Corporate & Me: Office Politics

I spent four years working in lean structured environments and that mostly felt like a family setting. Prior to that, I had worked in some big corporates and later joined another big corporate. My sentiments on office politics are drawn from the experiences over the years, from when I was just a teenager on my first job to being back in a big corporate structure. I remember one of my trusted advisors giving me tips and one of them was: big corporates are a jungle and you will need your intuition more than ever. Anyway, in all aspects of my big corporate experience, I have applied these simple rules. Well, simple in my books.

1. Do your best

As cliché as it sounds, always put your best foot forward. Your work will reach places you can’t imagine. If you’ve read The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall or at least watched the movie, then you sure know about the gift of work. Your work is a gift, one that you give to your employer. One of my favourite verses in the book of Proverbs says, “a man’s gift shall make room for him and bring him before great men.” So, do your work wholeheartedly, striving for excellence and continual improvement. But always remember, doing work alone is not enough. Bonnie Marcus talks about how office politics influenced her career in a Forbes article What I Learned About Office Politics That Changed My Career.

2. Build relationships

I have learnt that it’s easy to make enemies than friends in big corporates. When you’ve experienced family-oriented work environments you tend to forget that big corporates are a different ball game. That being said, there will always be people in your corner. But, just as there are false prophets in this world, there will also be fake supporters in the workplace. What I have found to be true in 90% of my cases is that your real supporters are usually working in the background. God will raise people that will speak for you in places where you can’t speak for yourself. Those are the great people who appreciate your gift. That’s what I call finding favour with man. Once you discover those people, build and nurture relationships with them. Do not forget to learn who the key decision makers are when it comes to your career growth, build good working relationships with them too.

3. Be secure

What am I onto here? Be confident in your abilities, skills and overall, who you are as a person. Acknowledge your differences, shortfalls and blind spots. Remember: no man is a monopoly of wisdom, therefore, always be prepared to learn. Someone better than you in many aspects may join the team, and rather than sabotage their work and growth, support them as they also support you. After all, team work makes the dream work.

4. Don’t inherit battles

Whenever you join a new organisation, do not inherit existing battles. Take time to learn about each person for yourself, and not depend solely on what others plant into your heart. Where battles exist and you need to work for both sides, tread carefully and find common ground. Try not to take any sides but do only what you were hired for. The Corporate Finance Institute shares these 3 tips on changing bad office politics:

  • Make many friends
  • Keep a record of your work
  • Don’t retaliate in the same way

Read more about the tips here. Also check out this tweet from the Harvard Business Review, research on a sample on employees in Britain revealed that office politics could have a negative bearing on resilience.

5. Maintain your peace

People are going to provoke you and even lie just to discredit you on different fronts. You may get discouraged or even annoyed along the way but it’s important that you maintain your peace. Don’t go ‘tit-for-tat’ because it’s a fair game, rather choose peace. Basically, you can choose peace by responding to all situations with kindness and letting justice take its course.

I would like to hear from you what your experiences have been when it comes to office politics. What’s the worst and best that has happened to you in the midst of office politics? You can share your comments below or send an e-mail to hello@nononyathi.co.zw.

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Author

nono@nononyathi.co.zw
I am a weird and wonderful young lady who loves beautiful things. I love writing because as Anne Frank puts it, "Paper is more patient than people".

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