Let’s continue talking about entering the world of work
Prime the pump
July 4, 2023

Let’s continue talking about entering the world of work

If you are entering an organization for the first time as an employee, it wouldn’t take long for you to recognize the politicians i.e., the influencers, the ones dictating the moves within the organization and pulling managers’ and executives’ strings. It may surprise you that most of them are rank and file.

Recently, I asked an individual how she was, her response was “there are so many things going on in my head. I am overwhelmed by the office politics at my workplace.”

Maybe you have heard this comment before, or maybe you are the one making comments such like “I can’t deal with all the office politics.”

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you are rubbing shoulders with.

“To get ahead, you have to be constantly playing games and aligning yourself strategically.”

The reality is those assertions are true and if you have echoed them – you are right.

Several years ago, as a young professional, I was put off by blatant strategic moves of office politicians. I thought it was unfair and I wanted nothing to do with the players or with office politics. One day, in conversation with my boss, he said something to me that had a lasting impression. He said, fussing about office politics would not change the price of eggs nor would it help you. You need to become a politician too. Becoming a politician does not mean that you must play dirty, but it takes you out of the position of being influenced by political moves to being the influencer. It moves you from a position of guessing what is going on to a position of knowing what is going on. From a position of being controlled to being the controller. My boss said sometimes you must pretend that you are a fan of people you detest and that you support the cause you strongly oppose.

Experience has taught me that the dynamics of organizational politics are inescapable.

Therefore, I have learnt to take an interest in it. I learnt that playing organizational politics meant knowing how to pick my battles – determining which battles should be fought and at what cost, who to challenge and how often to challenge. That I recognize the players within the organization and their area of influence. That I understand the advantage of relationship building and nurturing. Afterall, “Office politics is not what you think I am doing; it’s why you think I am doing it.” Inside Out – people performance.

Today, we draw from Lucio Buffalmano’s article on The Power Moves, titled “7 Steps to Master Office Politics: A field Guide.”

Buffalmano concluded that office politics and politically savvy career strategies are crucial to your career succession. One of the steps shared was “know who matters: The Org Power Chart.”

According to Buffalmano, you need to know who matters around you and where you stand in relation to others. You are always at the centre of your personal chart and it’s important for you to know who you should be networking with, who you should be careful around, and who can give you the opportunities that will change your career for the better.

Buffalmano recommends that you personalize the organizational chart and start there. He said, “What you need to keep in mind when drawing your power map is that not all job positions are created equal, and the momentum of the people filling those roles is paramount. Some people are stationary, some others are on the upswing, while some others are going downward – or are on their way out. As a rule, the ones who are going down, no matter their position, not only are useless, but are actively harmful.  They are going down because they ‘pissed’ off someone very powerful. It can take years to recover from a demotion, and most never recover. Just to be on the safe side, don’t get too close to them. Instead, you want to associate with those going up. They are the winning faction, those who are friends with those still higher up, and those who can soon bring you up as well.”

Don’t be oblivious of organizational politics. Study the players and strategically align yourself, to do otherwise will be self-sabotage.

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