We human beings have advanced beyond our years. We put a man on the moon, found new methodologies to enhance fertility, and today we can replace faulty organs through transplant procedures. We are indeed the dominant species of the universe! Unfortunately, while we have undoubtedly been able to subdue most hindrances to our existence, it is in our personal relationships with one another that we have failed to advance.
Really, human relationships have not advanced beyond the normal nursery school play ground issues, the only difference is our ego’s are now much bigger and even more fragile. “Gossip”, “slander”, “false accusations”, “mistreatment”, “group seclusions”, are just some of the issues we have taken with us from primary school right to the office. The problem with having these issues in the office environment is many fold. Most of us spend at least 2/3 of our lives at work, and the income we receive is usually all we have to support ourselves and our family. So working within unpleasant circumstances can easily translate to a poor quality of life for many. Plus, in our increasingly unstable economic climate, where once thought solid multinational companies have crumbled with less than a weeks notice, it becomes even more necessary to hold on to our current means of employment.
In order to survive in any jungle, you must adopt key survival tactics. Here are a few tactics to survive the jungle of work politics.
Mind Your Work and Your Manners
It’s no use trying to avoid office politics if you aren’t putting in the effort at work. Think about it, if management has decided to lay of 50 staff members, who do you, think will get the first cut? You guessed right, those that are always the last to get into work and the first to leave. If you spend all day in the office chatting away on Facebook, without meeting any of your Key Performance Indicators, it is very unlikely that you will have a leg to stand on when those kinds of decisions are being made.
Make sure you are always punctual, meet your deadlines and put in the extra effort wherever possible. Achieving this will ensure that your work speaks volumes anytime management decisions are being made.
Also try as much as possible to exclude yourself from office gossip or putting down company policy and your boss. Even in cases where you happen to hear quite juicy information, keep it to yourself. Saying the wrong thing to the wrong person can get you into unnecessary trouble. The same goes for sharing unnecessary personal information about yourself. Maintaining a healthy work, personal life separation is always beneficial.
Finally always remember that work social functions, are still cooperate events and should be treated as such. This is not the time to get tipsy or behave like you would normally do when you are around family and friends.
This follows from the first point. If you put in the necessary effort chances, are you will excel at your chosen field of employment, and trust me, everyone will know about it. This means anytime anyone has a question, you will be the first one they’ll ask, and this goes for both your co-workers and clients. Being the go-to person in any establishment makes you indispensable. If your boss knows they can rely on you to get the job done, they will most likely want to keep you around.
Being indispensable also means taking out time to train yourself. Go for courses that enhance your CV and your general career goals. Make sure you are knowledgeable in your chosen profession, this will also go along way in enhancing your self confidence and career advancement.
Learn to Play the Game
As with any thing in life, you must learn the rules, before you can play effectively. The same is true of the work place. That doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing everyone else does, it just means you must be aware of the dynamics and devise your own strategies for success. For example, if you know your boss is passionate about a particular project, it wouldn’t hurt to ensure that your priorities reflect that. Also, if you know your supervisor, likes being called by his title “Engineer” Ladipo, it wouldn’t do you any harm to address him as he wishes. You’d be surprised how little things like this make a world of difference.
However, always remember that there is a thin line between learning how the game is played and just paying lip service. The trick here is to be aware of the game not be part of it.
Manage your Emotions
Personally, this is something I struggle with. I like to speak my mind when and how it pleases me, but the disadvantages to this trait, especially in a work environment, far outweigh its benefits.
Yes, there are times you will want to scream at your co-worker who is taking all the praise for the hard work you both put into a project. There will also be a time when you want to tell your boss just how wicked and evil she is and how she is a miserable witch. There might also be a time when you feel like just screaming out of sheer frustration and desperation. But you must keep it together. Go to the bathroom and scream if you must, go into your car and punch the dash board or wait till you get home and cry on the shoulder of your loved one instead. But NEVER show those emotions at work.
However, there might be situations were it might be necessary for you to speak up for yourself. In cases like this, I would advice that you wait until you are completely calm, that way you will speak from a rational, sensible point of view and not form your emotions.
Keep your Eye on the Prize
In life, you should have goals. Things you hope to achieve that keep you focused, motivated and grounded. The same should go for your career. You must have an ultimate career goal in focus and plot a trajectory for getting there. That way, you will see your job as a means to an end, not necessarily an end in itself. When you have your career destination in focus, it makes it easier to tolerate various work related issues that may arise, because you know they are essentially temporary.
The problem with most employees is that they settle very quickly into a role and allow it to define them. They forget that they are only employees being employed by someone else who has the overall final say on that particular employment position. But when you have an ultimate career goal in focus, you are continually striving for something better instead of allowing your current position to delude you into a false sense of self satisfaction.
Remember the Little People
People like drivers, messengers, clerks and assistants e.t.c. are vital to the running of any organization. By virtue of their position, Directors, Managers, CEO’s tend to drop salient pieces of information when ever they are around them (for example, an MD receiving an important business call while in the car or an assistant who has access to her bosses diary). This makes them very useful friends to have on your side.
Depending on your position, you might find it quite easy to dismiss people in such roles. However, it may one day prove valuable to keep them on your side, as you never know when they might have information that could save you a whole load of stress.