Four steps to building power at the workplace


Despite the view of politics as an unclean word, success in your office environment requires political manoeuvring. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Many people view politics as a dirty game. Pastors, rabbis, and imams often preach against certain types of political machinations from the pulpit. Business executives proclaim no political affiliation.

But beyond the formal political space that governs the State House, National Assembly, Senate, and County governors, employees in companies face the onslaught of a different type of politics.

In fact, despite the view of politics as an unclean word, success in your office environment requires political manoeuvring.

Political skill does not need to revolve around taking advantage of others or backstabbing to enhance self-interest at the expense of others.

It should really exist as building relationships to help you meet your objectives. Organisational politics exists as ever-present and has widespread effects on critical processes, such as performance evaluations, resource allocations, decision-making, and promotions.

As researcher Andrew Durbin states: “politics is simply a system of getting what you want”. So your success revolves around your ability to play office politics.

Politically effective leaders line up resources to accomplish personal and professional goals through the power and influence of their relationships.

Inasmuch, let us review the critical four steps to build your political power in your organisation:

First, learn the organisational culture at your firm and study the power players. Once you discern the political landscape and know how the real power players operate, the better you may navigate and enhance your power.

Second, work diligently to develop good working relationships at your office, but especially with your boss. While Kenyans find that building good working relationships as obvious, Europeans and Americans often do not emphasise relationships.

So Kenyans in multinational organisations have an advantage over those from some other cultures.

Third, strive to function as a loyal and honest team player. Even if you focus on loyalty and honesty alone, you will grow your power as reliable and as able to deliver in difficult circumstances.

Fourth, gain recognition. Perform exceptionally well on tasks and projects and you gain power in your boss’, coworkers’, and the executive leadership’s mind. Have key clients write letters stating your skills and win industry awards.

The more of the above four steps you include in your work, the more politically active you become. Then the more politically active, the more successful in your organisation you become.

Now, clearly strive not to overtly act political. Carefully engage in office politics without obvious hints to your coworkers and bosses of exactly how you do it.

Since we have now investigated what you should engage in for political power for yourself, think about what office politics does your boss undertake?

What office politics do your coworkers dwell on? Again, understand the landscape in your office.

Think about whether your boss and coworkers engage in office politics by considering the following: Do others dress similarly to the CEO and take the same interests as him or her, such as supporting Arsenal or Manchester United?

Do others try to get close to the executive leaders? Do your coworkers frequently compliment and flatter each other and the leaders?

Do they seek advice for senior managers as a way to build relationships? Do your coworkers do favours for each other and for the management team?

Do they have stronger relationships with your own boss than you do? When someone opposes your coworkers, do they maintain a positive working relationship with them? When a manager makes a mistake, do coworkers point it out publicly?

Do others tell the truth? Do coworkers send notices of their accomplishments to your company’s management?

By understanding the political landscape of your own boss and your coworkers, you may ascertain the weaknesses and strengths of the political skills of those around you.

Then tailor your own office politics in light of the basis of your coworkers.

In short, you cannot do a job well without office political skills. Learn organisational political skills now to further your career.

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