Necessary Evil to Advance Your Career: Office Politics

by Kathy Jones on Feb 28 2012 8:29 PM

 Necessary Evil to Advance Your Career: Office Politics
A new study has found that almost 60 percent workers consider office politics to be a necessity for career growth.
There is some degree of politics at play in virtually every organization, according to Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of staffing firm Robert Half International.

"The savviest professionals practice workplace diplomacy," Messmer said.

"They remain attuned to political undercurrents but don't allow themselves to get pulled into situations that could compromise their working relationships or reputation."

For employees, Robert Half has offered some advice on successfully navigating office politics.

He recommends building a broad coalition of support. Lobby for the respect and trust of all your colleagues, including those at the grassroots level. Forge strong alliances by sharing credit for successes and delivering on promises.

He insisted on avoiding smear campaigns. Gossiping or outright mudslinging can only damage an employee's credibility. When upset or frustrated, wait until after calming down to express concerns. Be direct but tactful, focusing on facts rather than feelings.

Staying true to your values is another aspect that should always be kept in mind. It's an unfortunate truth that there are those who'll do anything to "win," but character and credibility count. There is no need to play underhanded games to rise through the ranks.

Half also suggested connecting with your constituencies. Smart candidates tailor their message and approach to the audience. Employees should apply the same tactic to their co-workers. Observe their unique work styles, priorities and communication preferences in order to best adapt your approach.

He recommends playing by the rules. Avoid sticky situations by paying close attention to office protocol. If a misstep is taken, make amends quickly.

He also suggested that workers should avoid controversy. Given that 2012 is a big election year, water cooler chitchat will inevitably veer toward the polarizing topic of politics. Proceed with caution, or politely bow out completely. Getting into heated debates about non-work issues can generate unnecessary ill will.

The research was based on surveys of more than 400 U.S. workers employed in an office environment.