Surviving Office Politics

I’ve just come across this guide to office politics on Australian blog “All men are lairs”.  Here are a few extracts:

Rule 1: There is ALWAYS office politics. There is nothing more naive than a perky friend starting a fresh gig who boasts: “I love my new job, there’s no politics”

I’d agree with that. I think it was Malcolm McLaren who said something like, “Politics is more than three people in a room.” Wherever there are people, there’s politics.

Rule 2: You can’t escape office politics but you don’t have to take sides.

“Try to be Switzerland….”

Well, yes, but you can’t always avoid taking sides and, if you don’t, you sometimes just get rolled over by everyone else. Stretching the neutral country analogy, you might try to be Switzerland but end up like Holland, protesting your neutrality while your cities are flattened.

Rule 3: Don’t talk about people at work to other people at work unless they are absolutely your friends (as opposed to workmates).

Just because you clank cups with some clown in the kitchen and you think you get along great and can trust them, doesn’t make them a friend.

Says Boonie: “Ask yourself this question: ‘If I left this job would I stay friends with this person?'”

“If the answer is ‘no’, never confide in them.

Good advice. I can’t argue with that one.

Rule 5 (a): And this is golden. Never EVER say anything personal about a co-worker in an email.

Anyone who breaks this rule is just plain stupid. Firstly, your emails are always on file somewhere and secondly, you never know when you are going to hit the Reply-To-All button by mistake. Never write down anything electronically that you wouldn’t want to be confronted with on printed paper.

Rule 7: Pork barrel as much as you can.

I don’t mean steal or defraud your boss, but don’t be counting pennies for multi-nationals. Fly business class if you can, order the fillet mignon, drink the imported beer and catch the cab rather than the bus.

Is there a sadder sight than some dude living in a studio apartment who gets all frisky in the office, boasting he just saved a Fortune 500 company $43 on photocopy paper? Yeesh.

If the company wants you to save money, your boss will let you know soon enough.

I would add one extra rule to this list. Always look for where the power is. I don’t mean that you must suck up to all the senior people, just that you need to be aware of those subtle shifts in power. If you have aligned yourself to someone whose star is on the wane, then you need to look to others for support. Unless, of course, you have long service and want to get made redundant with a big payoff. Then you can pretty much do as you please.  

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7 Responses to Surviving Office Politics

  1. HR Wench says:

    Also from our friends down under: Santa should substitute “ha, ha, ha” for “ho, ho, ho”.

    In the world of office politics, I am North Korea. So bat-shite crazy people are afraid to mess with me. MUHAHAHAHA!

  2. Rick says:

    But what if they find out where you keep your WMD?

  3. Pingback: hghosted » Blog Archive » Surviving Office Politics

  4. The best way to survive office politics is to take a holistic view of the situation (if you can). This allows you to tailor your own actions for maximum benefit to yourself.

  5. HR Wench says:

    Rick – No WMD’s here. We do have ROUS’s (Rodents Of Unusual Size) though.

  6. Peter Gold says:

    Easier still, don’t go to work.

    But before you take the day off, tell the jerk in the kitchen how much your other ‘friend’ hates the kitchen jerk so much but they must not tell anyone, send an e-mail to Miss Gossip about kitchen jerk being a jerk, eat all the food in the fridge (even if you don’t like it), steal the last of the coffee (for your very long time at home), tell everyone how much you just love being at work and hope to spend the rest of your life with them all.

    You will then have all the time in the world to be holistic about office politics whilst watching Jeremy Kyle sort out the dross of the country. Ooops, isn’t this what I do???

    Enjoy the politics…..they’re out to get ya.

  7. Great post and wonderful synopsis. Office politics are a process and they can be a strategic tool to help you and your team get ahead (or at least keep up). Being able to analyze, diagnose, and strategize around office politics are great skills for the 21st century professional.

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