Office Politics: Use it to your advantage

No matter what your company, you’ve probably encountered organizational politics. One of the most frequent complaints is that ‘it is difficult to get things done because of this Office Politics !!!.

But is it really possible to put politics aside? Is there an organization in which everyone’s personal interests are perfectly aligned with functional, business unit, and Corporate interests? Definitely not. Put simply, politics aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, instead of complaining about politics and fantasizing that they will magically disappear, perhaps instead we should learn how to embrace them and manage them more effectively.

It’s easy to use “politics” as an excuse for a lack of achievement or an outlet for your frustration. But it may be a lot more effective to use “politics” as a way to get things done. Even if you can embrace politics, managing them is not an easy process. Here are three guidelines that might get you started:

Draw a Political Map. Whenever you want to make some sort of change, create a map of the different stakeholders and then analyze them from a political perspective. Who do you think will be affected by the change, positively or negatively? Who needs to be involved in the decision? Who might influence the decision? Who will be your strong supporters and who will resist?

Hold a Debate. Engage the different stakeholders in dialogue, not only with you but with each other. Organize a meeting to discuss what you’re trying to do, or invite people with different views to lunch. Do whatever is necessary to make the conflicting views more transparent.

Come to a Compromise. Once you’ve mapped the political terrain and opened up the dialogue, create a targeted plan for building alignment. Talk to people who would object and figure out ways to modify your proposal so that you respond to their concerns. Talk to people who are strongly in your camp and ask them to proactively influence others who may be less enthusiastic. The key here is to remember that politics is the art of the possible, not the perfect. You may not be able to get full alignment and support for your original proposal; but if you engage with the stakeholders on the map you’ve created, you may be able to shape enough buy-in to move forward with the most essential parts. And if these initial steps achieve results, you may be able to align these same stakeholders around more ambitious change.

Try it out …… if you have to.

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