Keeping your head down and working hard is important but we all know that in business you have to “play the game” and develop effective personal relationships with the key stakeholders across your firm. As such, networking with internal contacts is as important as networking with external customers and target clients.
The number one word for managing office politics is diplomacy. Keep it professional at all times and find common ground with key stakeholders across the business.
It is important to make sure that you understand what is really going on. Pay attention. What do you see? Who talks to who? Who doesn’t talk to who? What does the gossip say? Notice who gets their way and who doesn’t. Talk in a way that ensures that you avoid being seen to take sides.
You should treat your stakeholders equally, do a good job for everyone and listen and respond to what they need. When you are chatting with someone and they are playing the political game, listen and talk to them about what they can do, how they feel, or what they want to do about it rather than agreeing or taking sides.
Office politics can sometimes create stressful situations and tension but it is important to keep your cool at all times. If you’ve been maligned, candidly address the issue at the source. Then shake hands and move on. Nothing that happens at the office is worth a heart attack. In the grand scheme of things, will the issue matter in a week or a month’s time? If you keep things in perspective, you will be less prone to turning incidents into catastrophes.
If you are building a team it’s worth screening potential new hires carefully. Ask candidates how they feel about workplace politics and how they might react in difficult situations.
Finally, bear in mind that regardless of the type of business that you work in, you will not like everyone and not everyone will like you. Always be professional and make sure you communicate clearly and consistently with them. Be direct and do what you said you would do.