10 tried and tested ways to beat office politics

All you need to know about achieving success in the corporate world, leveraging strategic relationships and visibility for career advancement

By Philippe Mathijs

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Published: Thu 30 May 2024, 6:52 PM

In today’s fast-paced corporate world, success hinges not only on technical prowess or qualifications but also on mastering the intricate web of organisational politics. While often shadowed in negativity, these politics are an inherent aspect of modern workplaces, stemming from various factors.

Organisational politics emanate from multiple sources within the corporate environment. Predominantly, it stems from a ‘me-centric’ mindset pervasive among managers and higher-ups, prioritising personal agendas and fostering competitive environments characterised by information hoarding and centralised power. Interestingly, these dynamics are not exclusive to senior leadership; even junior employees may inadvertently contribute by withholding information to maintain a facade of competence, inadvertently fostering mistrust and competition.


So, how do you navigate this tricky terrain? One way is by building strategic relationships. That means finding mentors—people who can give you advice on how to deal with office politics—and sponsors, who can support your career growth by speaking up for you.

Meet Sarah, a junior employee in a bustling marketing firm. Passionate about her work, Sarah consistently delivered innovative marketing strategies and campaigns. However, despite her dedication, Sarah often felt overlooked and undervalued within the company. One instance left Sarah particularly disheartened: she wasn't credited for a groundbreaking marketing campaign she spearheaded. Despite being the driving force behind its success, Sarah's contributions were overshadowed, leaving her feeling invisible and demotivated. Realising the importance of visibility and recognition in the corporate world, Sarah embarked on a journey to navigate organisational politics effectively.


Strategic Relationships: Strategic relationships serve as the linchpin for navigating organisational politics adeptly.

Seeking Mentors and Sponsors: Mentors provide invaluable guidance on navigating the intricacies of office politics, offering insights honed through years of experience. On the other hand, sponsors play a pivotal role in advocating for career advancement, leveraging their influence to help individuals overcome political obstacles and ascend the corporate ladder.

Engaging Across Departments: Engaging in cross-functional projects not only expands networks but also demonstrates adaptability and teamwork—qualities highly regarded in navigating political landscapes. By actively participating in such endeavours, individuals not only broaden their sphere of influence but also showcase their ability to thrive in diverse environments.

Adding Value Consistently: Maintaining visibility by consistently exceeding expectations and delivering tangible results, individuals garner trust and reliability, bolstering their stature within the organisation and smoothing the navigation of political dynamics. Visibility within the organisation is equally pivotal. In the corporate jungle, being seen and heard can often mean the difference between stagnation and advancement.

Taking Initiative: Taking the initiative not only showcases leadership qualities but also amplifies visibility, positioning individuals as influential figures within the organisation. Whether it's spearheading a project or championing a cause, proactive engagement signals ambition and drive—qualities highly valued in corporate settings.

Engaging with Your Team: Actively engaging with one's team fosters camaraderie and trust—essential ingredients for forging alliances and collectively addressing political challenges. By nurturing strong interpersonal relationships within the team, individuals not only enhance their support network but also create a conducive environment for navigating organisational politics effectively.

Sharing Achievements: Articulating successes and sharing achievements is also key. By vocalising their contributions and highlighting their accomplishments, individuals not only elevates their own credibility but also contribute to team morale, fostering an environment of mutual support and recognition.

Seeking Feedback: Actively soliciting feedback demonstrates a commitment to growth and improvement, enhancing credibility and smoothing the navigation of political dynamics. Moreover, being visible beyond one's role is essential. Volunteering for cross-functional projects or engaging in company-wide initiatives not only heightens visibility but also showcases a proactive approach to career advancement.

Being Visible Beyond Your Role: Volunteering for cross-functional projects or engaging in company-wide initiatives heightens visibility and showcases a proactive approach to career advancement, essential elements in effectively navigating organisational politics.

Maintaining Sanity Amidst Politics: To maintain sanity amidst the complexities of organisational politics, it’s crucial to prioritise self-care and well-being. Taking breaks, engaging in hobbies, and spending time with loved ones can provide the necessary respite from workplace stress. By prioritising mental and emotional health, individuals can navigate organisational politics with greater resilience and effectiveness.

Sarah’s journey serves as a testament to the importance of prioritising well-being amidst the challenges of organisational politics. Despite facing setbacks and feeling invisible at times, Sarah remained resilient and focused on her personal growth. By prioritising self-care and seeking support from mentors and sponsors, she was able to navigate the political landscape with grace and become more confident in her abilities.

In summary, navigating organisational politics requires a multifaceted approach, including building strategic relationships, seizing opportunities, and prioritising well-being. By employing these strategies, individuals can overcome challenges and advance their careers within the organisation.

Mathijs is the author of How Not to Be Lonely At The Top

wknd@khaleejtimes.com

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