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Ten Essential Rules of Office Politics

Playing the political game at work is important but it is easier said than done. Here are ten practical applicable rules of power and politics that are proven to serve you well if you apply them:


10) Never outshine the master: You cannot look better than your manager. So you have to always make the boss feel that her comments and guidance is important. In reality, the boss’s input is very important. To think otherwise is arrogant and bad form. After all, they are closer to the top management and the strategic direction. They also have more experience usually, and even if they do not, they must be in their position of leadership for a reason. That must be respected.

9) Always take the company line: Sometimes company direction might not make sense to you. Sometimes you feel it does not make sense. Or you might even feel it is completely wrong. Regardless, you have to be in line with company direction in front of everybody: employees, client, managers, etc. You are a manager in the company and accordingly you must follow the company direction. To say you disagree with it creates negative dissension and insecurity among the ranks. If you have an opinion express it to your immediate manager in the most respecting fashion. Ask your manager questions. Express your concern. No problem. But when you walk out of your manager’s office, you take the company line.

8) Credit your manager and team for your successes. This is similar to point 10. When things work well, you have to credit your manager and team for it. Not yourself. Your manager deserves credit. She provided the environment for you to excel. So does the team. They supported you getting the work done. To claim success for yourself is very bad style and will not help you advance.

7) Say sorry sparingly: This might seem arrogant but it is not. To keep apologizing and saying sorry is weak and makes the apology meaningless. Only apologize when the apology helps. Do not apologize just for the sake of apologizing.

6) Listen to your manager: Even if you disagree with his input. You have to listen to it. Look at things from his perspective. He will appreciate that. If you do not do it, you will be labeled as hard headed and stubborn, to say the least. When you listen it is more likely that the boss will listen to your opinion.

5) Do not argue with your manager. Sometimes team members argue. Do not argue. Give your opinion once and make it count. But if the manager insists that you “jump” it is time to say “How high.” Unless of-course you are asked to do something unethical.

4) Be personable: Treat people as persons not positions. To think that “we are here to do the job regardless of our personalities or personal feelings” is a mistake. It leads to lack of people orientation and will affect your ability to motivate your team.

3) Relate to people: This is related to number 4. Sometimes take the time to show that you care about your team and managers as people. Know the names of their children, their hobbies, their interests, etc. To keep up, put notes on your calendar to remind you to check how they are feeling if they were sick, or one of their family members was sick. Small things that show you care about them as persons can get you a lot of rapport.

2) Ask for help: Most people love to help. So if you ask for it, most people will want to help. Try it. Start with “I Need your help.”

1) Never gossip or bad mouth the boss or company: In the company there are no secrets. Anything you say will come back and reach the one person you did not want to hear it. It is funny how this works out. Also, if you say good things or positive things about the company or someone, it also finds its way to them one way or the other. So, let us agree on this: anything you have said in secret to anyone at work about the boss, has already reached the boss one way or the other. Another aspect to this is that the negative vibes we give to others are easily identified. When you bad mouth someone you start having negative feelings about them, and that will reflect one way or the other on what you say and how you act around them.

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