After getting a job, one of the toughest challenges that new hires have to face is navigating office politics. Whether you’re an industry veteran or it’s your first full-time position, how you handle watercooler whispers and coworker conniving can have a big effect on your career advancement, and how you’re perceived by the higher ups.
In fact, a recent FlexJobs survey found that the number one reason people think they would be more productive working from home is because they get to avoid office politics (with 61% of respondents choosing that reason). If you’re part of a big company and have to spent time on site, however, it’s something you’re going to have to face sooner or later.
Here are some effective ways to play politics on the job:
Avoid the gossip mill.
Sure, there’s a curious part in all of us that speculates about the rumored office romance or who might be on the chopping block, but no good ever comes of participating in this type of chatter. If discovered, you don’t want to become guilty by association.
Give credit where it’s due.
Having a cutthroat mentality is how some people choose to operate, but the old saying about seeing the same people on the way down that you messed with on the way up is true. Don’t pass off someone else’s hard work as your own, and share pats on the back with people who helped you.
Be good to people in support positions.
Kissing up to the boss might be how some workers try getting ahead, but showing genuine appreciation for the people on the front lines is a better move. From the receptionist to the building manager to the tech support team, be kind to the people who make your day go smoothly on a daily basis.
Handle conflict like a pro.
Going over your supervisor’s head to the big boss or having a shouting match with someone on your team makes you seem immature. Try working things out diplomatically, and if necessary, follow HR office procedures to file complaints.
Even if you’re shy, saying hello, holding the elevator door for fellow staffers, or inviting someone to lunch doesn’t take a whole lot of effort. Flying under the radar can be good, but it’s the relationships you develop that will form your professional network.
Stay in the drama-free zone.
While you want to be friendly and even socialize outside of work at times, be careful about divulging TMI (too much information). Airing your dirty laundry, so to speak, will just make you a target of gossip. This includes how you behave on social media, too, since it’s likely that someone you work with might see your posts.
Remember, playing politics poorly might not only affect your current job; it can follow you even when you begin campaigning for a new job. If you want to be “elected” to a bigger and better positions down the line, maintain a squeaky clean image and don’t alienate any parties.