Office Politics and Networking

Cat fights are petty and mean. Stay in the game, and build a network instead

Office drama: it’s like high school, but with smarter people and thousands of dollars on the line.

There’s someone in the office (say, Joe) that you need to stay on his good side if you want your projects to go through. Joe has connections beyond what you have, and that enables him to do a lot.

Important people have lots of connections

Joe can be frustrating, especially if he doesn’t like you. His boss gave him the power to make these decisions. The CEO of a company can’t make every decision, so he finds good people to make decisions. When they get overwhelmed, they get someone they trust to make some decisions for them. Each layer must trust the lower layer to make good choices.

Joe knows enough people to delay the project. He either directly controls the project or has the influence to get it delayed, or to push certain projects through.  People like him know the most people, the most projects and information, and the priorities of the higher-ups. That’s how they got into that position.

Their boss believes they will try and do what’s best for the company

Doesn’t always work out like that. Other times, either decision is equally good, so the deal breaker is whether they like you.

Anyone in a position like Joe is has a powerful network. They know the right people in the company, and those people like him well enough. Generally, they also control a limited resource. There isn’t enough of something, so they have to make decisions on what does or doesn’t make the cut.

Not enough sales space? Not enough programmers? Money? Lack creates critical people because they have control over something essential and have to make decisions on what gets cut.

Important people control limited resources like money or workers

Everyone in the business needs what Joe has because there isn’t enough to go around. Joe ends up as the center of the network.

There are several things to learn from these people.

  1. Controlling scarce resources gives you power
  2. Dealing with that power can get you entrenched, promoted or fired
  3. You always control one scarce resource, your time

Your time might be the scarce resource. If it is, use it wisely. The system changes wherever you work, what department you work in, and more. Create a network and it can enable you to get your projects done better and faster.

As you learn the politics, it you can learn who you need to worry about and avoid. Networks and politics are nearly the same, but politics is where personal grudges get involved. Stay out of the mess and build a network. Get to know the important people. Ask what you can do for them, so they will trust you.

Something To Do Today

If you dare, ask around about politics in your current job. Who runs the show? Who’s really in charge, even if they don’t have a title to show? Ask if you can speak to them over lunch and how they got where they are.

There’s a lot you can learn, and it can take you on your next step to a promotion.

Sorry for the late post! Got busy rebuilding the PC. I’ll be posting again tomorrow, back on schedule.

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