Office Politics – Five Steps to Get Ahead of the Competition

In many companies, advancement is not always about being the best at what one does; it is often more about playing the game right.  If you have ever watched a less experienced or less talented colleague get promoted over you, then sadly, you will be able to relate to this.

It is often just a matter of office politics.  Those who know how to play the game will always get promoted, those who don’t will remain stuck where they are.  Don’t however be discouraged. Help is at hand.  Here are five ways to beat the opposition in the game of office politics:-


  1. Your job comes first

This should be a no-brainer but it should go without saying that your first move in offense should be to do your job and do it well.  Do not focus or waste your time on what your colleagues are doing or how much you hate doing the menial jobs you are assigned.  There will be plenty of time to beat the competition but your first priority should always to do the best you can with those tasks you are given.

While there is no merit or commendation in simply doing your job, by doing your job and doing it well, one will be better placed for promotion, if there is verifiable evidence that you can do a better job.


  1. Build a Circle of Influence

No one is saying one should suck up to the boss to get favouritism but you do need to get in their good graces.  As that old saying goes: ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. Building relationships with supervisors, a line manager will greatly increase one’s odds of being promoted.  If you have a personality that is abrasive, you may appear difficult to deal with, get along with, or simply annoying.  The likelihood of any promotion decreases exponentially.

The moral here (the lesson if you will,) is you need to build personal relationships with your superiors. Remember their birthdays; ask about their family, offer to buy them a drink after work once in a while.  Attend as many meetings as they will allow you to sit in on, even offer to help with any additional projects around the office.  If the company offers mentoring or shadowing initiatives, take full advantage of them.  If you want to know your boss and learn how they run the company, there’s no better way to learn than to watch them first-hand.


  1. Speak Up (Don’t Be Shy)

If you want promotion and more responsibility, then the powers that be need to know you are capable of more than you currently doing in your present role.  You have to make them realise you can do the job.  Think of your current position as an audition for the job you really want.  Do it to the best of your abilities and beyond your current duties.  If you have an idea, then speak up and give your bosses the opportunity to implement it.

If you are the type to simply sit at your desk, do your job and not get involved in the inner workings and mechanics of the office, you are not likely to go very far.  The truth, the whole truth is you have to be assertive.  Suggest new ideas and try out new things.  Take the initiative, even if your idea fails, they may still be impressed that you had the courage to try something new.


  1. Play Well With Others

Your colleagues in one respect are your competition and many of them are ruthless about their advancement.  That aside, you have to demonstrate an ability to work with people you don’t necessarily like or want to collaborate with.


  1. Keep Yourself in the Loop

The worst part of office politics is, without any doubt, the inevitable gossip.  The water cooler small talk about how Daniel from Accounting hooked up with the receptionist is not a classy or very productive way to spend a large chunk of one’s time.  That said there could be some valuable gems of information hidden under all that gossip.  It is important to learn not only the reputations of colleagues but the stories going around about you.  If you have a reputation for always being late or staying up all night drinking with boys, you are less likely to seen by those higher up the food chain, as someone who is a reliable employee who is ready for more responsibility.

Believe it or not, office gossip also has some positive aspects.  For instance, one will know when a job is opening up before it is announced or advertised; how to get the inside track with some of your bosses and maybe even the kind of person they are looking to hire.

Office politics is a dirty game to play but it is often a necessity in the business world. If you follow the above tips, you are sure to impress your bosses, beat the competition and move on up the corporate ladder, without taking any prisoners.


So go to it!  The game’s a foot!






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