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Cutting Through the Politics

Politics in the workplace is a fact of life. If you don’t like it, get over it, or quit. Organizations are made up of people and nobody is perfect. People see from their perceptions and often have conflicting goals and objectives. Because of these factors, it’s inevitable that politics will surface in companies of all sizes making it important for aspiring executives to understand that building cohesive working relationships is essential for anyone looking to advance. Here are a few tips to help with managing the political part of being an executive.

Budget time for relationship building. Politics does not mean sucking up. It means taking the time to cultivate interpersonal relationships with key people inside the organization. People promote people they know, like, and respect. Taking the time to get to know the players in the company allows them to get to know you and allows you to learn what’s important to them. Communication is key!

Interact with the different departments and identify the key people. This does not always mean top management, but individuals with the reputations for getting things done.

Learn to give in order to get. People who are good at building relationships understand that being an advocate for others is important in the relationship building process. People who are only interested in themselves are less likely to develop contacts willing to help them.

Be proactive and seek out other people. This may be much more difficult for introverts who feel more comfortable working alone, but it’s important. Don’t think the communication game many of us have played in grade school isn’t alive and well at most companies. People see from their perceptions and have differing agendas. Talking to key constituents allows you the opportunity to gain information while also helping control how people perceive you.

Develop coalitions in the workplace. Effective leaders have the ability to rally people behind their mission and objectives. Understanding the viewpoints of others through coalitions makes it easier to lead.

Be sincere in your relationship building efforts. Be a phony and nobody will trust you. Demonstrate that you actually care about people and begin building trust. Listen to those you work with each day. Empathy is important. It enables you to understand and appreciate the values and feelings of others.

Managing politics is about working with people. Successful people skills means good communication skills and high emotional intelligence. Master these skills and learn that they’re also useful in networking, business development, recruiting, and employee retention.

John P. Kreiss

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