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Office politics: How to survive the storms

By - | December 14th 2012 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Goretti Kimani

The need for achievement and recognition is the primary driver of office politics in many organisations. Fighting and jostling for power and positions is part and parcel of career life, with the difference just being just in the degree of occurrence.

As a career person, it is important that you recognise the existence of this critical dynamic, as it could play a critical role in your career direction and stability. Blindness to this fact can cost you dearly and set your career back several years.

But how can one navigate these marshy waters?

An edge

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Firstly you must be good in what you do. Being a lousy worker will expose you more to these forces. Well-articulated and focused professional people always have an edge at work.

Keep yourself abreast with recent developments in your area of work as complacency and apathy will also just serve to expose you more.

You must then seek to understand your organisational culture. Organisational cultures are different, depending on the precedents that have been established over the years.

A journey

If you are newly employed, it pays to take time to learn what goes on in the new environment. A new job is much like a journey. You must have a clear map and information on the route to avoid getting lost or hurt along the way.

Make sure you do not assert your authority blindly, as that can get you into a lot of trouble, especially if there are some change resistant elements in the establishment.

 Also make a point of learning as much as you can about the organisation history, place in the industry, the key leadership and their styles. Remember, it is what you don’t know that will hurt you most.

People skills

Delivering at work also involves much more that professional competency. You must work very hard on your people skills.

The higher up the ladder you go, the more the storms, and hence, the more critical your people skills become. Poor handling of people and issues could raise storms that would otherwise have been avoided.

 There are countless books and articles in the market and even the Internet that one can access to polish these skills.

Read between the lines and take time to digest information if you want to master the critical skill in handling people. Also remember that each situation is unique, and one has to continually analyse and make decisions that fit the circumstance at hand.

Career suicide

And finally, focus on building strong friendships. Pride, arrogance and indifference are surefire ways of committing career suicide. Remember that when go downhill, it is your established friendships that will come to your rescue.

And should a storm come your way, never bury your head in the sand. Approach every storm with a sober mind and articulate real issues.

Never downplay any storm, rather treat each with the seriousness it deserves. Take responsibility, and avoid blaming others, complaining or justifying the situation.  When the dust settles, take note of the lessons and move on.

The writer is a human resource specialist at Peoplelink Consultants Ltd. Email: [email protected]

People skills career Organisational cultures friendships
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