- Rise above power plays and interpersonal conflicts
- Build a reputation as a go-to person, expert, or leader
- Gain access to resources, information and opportunities
- Influence outcomes and get buy-in for ideas and initiatives.
As you acquire the ability to navigate office politics effectively, I encourage you to let go of negative assumptions about office politics, and consider these alternate perspectives:
New Perspective #1: Replace the word "Politics" with the term "Organizational Awareness". Doesn't that sound better already?
New Perspective #2: Workplace politics is all about understanding communication and relationships, which women can excel at.
New Perspective #3: Make a personal commitment to use your organizational awareness in a way that is ethical and authentic.
Now that you are armed with a positive perspective, consider taking the following steps to use office politics to your strategic advantage.
Step 1: Map the Shadow Organization In parallel to a company's traditional hierarchical organizational chart there exists what is known as a shadow organization. The shadow organization is an unofficial, informal network of relationships and coalitions. Understand your shadow organization and you will understand how power and influence play out.
Investigate your shadow organization by playing the role of observer, as though you are a corporate anthropologist. Notice who has influence, who gets along with whom. Discover who is respected and who champions others. Who are the hubs of social interaction and corporate intelligence? Find out who really gets things done.
Create a visual map showing all key players. Classify every interrelationship, noting whether it is built on friendliness, advocacy, respect, or coercion. Note the strength of each connection, and the direction in which influence flows.
For example, when a Project Manager mapped her shadow organization, she discovered she had strong bonds with peers, but not with higher-ups.
Step 2: Build Relationships Identify people with whom to build relationships. Take at least one month to build your network without imposing an agenda on any of the relationships.
A Manager of Human Resources went out of her way to build strong ties with her company's marketing department after she noticed they were always first to hear about new products and trends. Having access to this information allowed her to gain greater credibility in her own department, where she is now has a reputation as having a finger on the pulse of the business.
Step 3: Leverage Your Network After relationships mature, your network can help you accomplish valuable goals and influence. For example, you can use your network to build visibility, improve difficult relationships, gain access to information, and attract opportunities.
By changing your perspective on politics, and using your network, you can dramatically improve your opportunities for recognition and advancement.