Secrets to Winning at Office Politics: How to Achieve Your Goals and Increase Your Influence at Work

Category: Skills
Author: Marie G. McIntyre
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Comments

by alok-g   2018-10-06
I had written this before [0] in a very different context but still relevant to your question.

1. Think Big. I have seen many people who aimed higher from the beginning and did manage their way up (e.g., becoming a VP in just ten years, that too in a large company).

2. People skills is a must. You should be thinking of people or organizational challenges all the time, or you'll miss the mindset to rise significantly up.

3. Many people complain about their team leads, managers or senior leaders. This usually happens because these senior are working at a higher level of responsibility and ambiguity than you are. You should rather be thinking what would you have done if you were in their position. Understand the challenges they have, by directly asking if needed. This will not only help develop your relationship with them, but also position you to develop the skills needed faster, without yet being in the position of responsibility that they are in!

4. There is a lot of entropy in any team/organization, and unfortunately also a lot of people who are increasing it. Be the one who reduces the risks and brings order to the chaos, whose judgment can be trusted. Keep in mind for this that the real challenges are often not on technology side (in other words, if you think technology challenges are more critical, you are perhaps missing the big picture).

5. Try to become irreplaceable for the team/company in your project and beyond. In my experience, this will not come in your way as [6] suggests. You must however not get limited to the tools and technologies specific to the company, or else your market value will suffer within a few years.

6. Never say (or even feel) anything bad about anyone ever, keeping Hanlon's razor in mind [1]. But then, how do you deal with the stupidity? Well, <b>their stupidity is your opportunity</b>. (I created this out of Jeff Bezos' famous quote, "Your margin is my opportunity." [4])

7. Do not let yourself be masked from political issues around. A good manager would aim to mask you [5], but that can curb your growth since you won't develop the skills needed to master and survive corporate politics while being masked.

8. There are books available today that teach you corporate politics [2-3], showing how easy it is for anyone to do it, and how difficult it is to counter. Reading these books should be a required reading for anyone aiming to go significantly high. And trust me, it's better to learn this from books or from other people's experience than learning this stuff the hard way. (The latter would be painful for one, and second, you may never actually learn.) I have read [2] and felt that I should have read it earlier.

9. Ask questions whenever you do not understand something or if your own thoughts do not align with the decisions being made. Of course, be polite in this (e.g., "I was wondering if option X also has been considered" instead of "why are we not going for option X"). People around would be happy to explain to you while also developing trust in you, and often would take the suggestion if it will actually reduce their mental burden. The sooner the better in asking questions.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/dp/0743262549/

[3] https://www.amazon.com/dp/0312332181/

[4] https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/7-jeff-bezos-quotes-tha...

[5] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16488447

[6] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16489904

by alok-g   2018-03-04
1. Think Big. I have seen many people who aimed higher from the beginning and did manage their way up (e.g., becoming a VP in just ten years, that too in a large company).

2. People skills is a must for the above. You should be thinking of people or organizational challenges all the time, or you'll miss the mindset to rise significantly up.

3. Many people complain about their team leads, managers or senior leaders. This usually happens because these senior are working at a higher level of responsibility and ambiguity than you are. You should rather be thinking what would you have done if you were in their position. Understand the challenges they have, by directly asking if needed. This will not only help develop your relationship with them, but also position you to develop the skills needed faster, without yet being in the position of responsibility that they are in!

4. There is a lot of entropy in any team/organization, and unfortunately also a lot of people who are increasing it. Be the one who reduces the risks and brings order to the chaos, whose judgment can be trusted. Keep in mind for this that the real challenges are often not on technology side (in other words, if you think technology challenges are more critical, you are perhaps missing the big picture).

5. Try to become irreplaceable for the team/company in your project and beyond. In my experience, this will not come in your way as [6] suggests. You must however not get limited to the tools and technologies specific to the company, or else your market value will suffer within a few years.

6. Never say (or even feel) anything bad about anyone ever, keeping Hanlon's razor in mind [1]. But then, how do you deal with the stupidity? Well, <b>their stupidity is your opportunity</b>. (I created this out of Jeff Bezos' famous quote, "Your margin is my opportunity." [4])

7. Do not let yourself be masked from political issues around. A good manager would aim to mask you [5], but that can curb your growth since you won't develop the skills needed to master and survive corporate politics while being masked.

8. There are books available today that teach you corporate politics [2-3], showing how easy it is for anyone to do it, and how difficult it is to counter. Reading these books should be a required reading for anyone aiming to go significantly high. And trust me, it's better to learn this from books or from other people's experience than learning this stuff the hard way. (The latter would be painful for one, and second, you may never actually learn.) I have read [2] and felt that I should have read it earlier.

9. Ask questions whenever you do not understand something or if your own thoughts do not align with the decisions being made. Of course, be polite in this (e.g., "I was wondering if option X also has been considered" instead of "why are we not going for option X"). People around would be happy to explain to you while also developing trust in you, and often would take the suggestion if it will actually reduce their mental burden. The sooner the better in asking questions.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/dp/0743262549/

[3] https://www.amazon.com/dp/0312332181/

[4] https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/7-jeff-bezos-quotes-tha...

[5] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16488447

[6] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16489904