Surviving life in the office can sometimes resemble an Attenborough documentary. It can be a jungle out there.
A group of people, all with different backgrounds, different goals and different personal interests all thrown into a mutual space and told to “work together” (i.e. compete against each other) in order to progress up the corporate ladder.
Of course there would be politics. Just look at the politics across the U.S. and U.K. at the moment – a group of people who are looking at the best way to progress in difficult situations – this is a great (although horrifying) example of how people will backstab and throw each other under the bus in order to better serve themselves. This is no different in any other work environment across the globe – some are just significantly better than others.
We are ambitious – we want to do well and we want to be the ‘best’. However to be the best means we need to navigate office politics. This is something I struggled with. I didn’t want to play a game – I wanted to be honest and hated the fakeness of it all…but as time went on and I learnt how to better deal with office politics, I realised once I took control of the situation, I started to enjoy it a bit better. Hopefully these tips will help you too.
- Be liked! People who play the ‘game’ best are usually the ones who can put their emotions to one side and look at the bigger picture. Never respond to an email or go into a meeting feeling emotional about the situation. You won’t look good and you will struggle to articulate your situation. Right a pros and cons list and go in with a level-head. Look at it from a colleagues point of view as well as yours and be balanced.
- Stay Professional! No matter how frustrating a situation can be you need to stay professional and remember how you come across. See point one.
- Don’t bitch! People talk and if someone is bitching about someone or gossiping about ‘Karen said on level 2’ then chances are they are saying the same about you. The colleagues I have the most amount of time for are the ones who are known as ‘never having a bad word to say about anyone.’ Be one of those – you social friends (outside of your workplace) and partner/family are the only ones you should bitch too.
- Don’t be a dick! – Similar to the point above, don’t make others look bad. You just come across as bitter and don’t take credit for someone else’s work. People do 360 reviews now and you will be assessed by everyone whether they are senior, junior or lateral to you. Karma will come round to bite you eventually so be kind, be a role model and don’t try to short cut your way because you will create enemies who will plot and await your demise.
This can sound negative and miserable but before you decide office life isn’t for you also remember that as long as you can navigate the minefield it’s a way to live the mon-fri 9-to-5 life and at least you get a guaranteed salary. So network, align and build strong relationships, don’t engage in office gossip and make today the start of a new you. A ‘you’ who knows how to play the ‘game’ and process in corporate life…..alternatively, if this isn’t for you – be honest with yourself and let’s look at getting you out and into something you love. Get in touch if you want help figuring out what’s right for you.