Friday, April 20 , 2018, 5:20 pm | Fair 60º


Karen Dwyer: Overcoming Negative Office Politics

Creating a strong reputation, earning respect and forging positive relationships can go a long way in helping one’s career

With the November U.S. presidential election drawing near, our society has been immersed in political slogans, advertisements, debates and jargon. Election years are a prime time for different sides to expose the other candidates’ weaknesses by exploiting decisions on every political plane and elevating their own strengths in the process. This sleight of hand is deemed negative politics.

Unfortunately, negative politics is not restrained to merely public office. In the workplace, office politics can be a driving force in career advancement and placement.

According to an open-ended survey by Gallup, a research-based consulting company, office politics is among the most disliked aspect of the workplace, especially among college graduates. So if one can’t escape negative office politics, one must overcome it.

Understanding office politics and knowing how to choose the other side of negative politics — the positive — can go a long way in helping one’s career.

Great politicians have one thing in common: They are great with people. Hundreds of public servants have been seen shaking hands and holding babies. Moreover, some go into politics to genuinely help their constituents. In the workplace, politics can be used to humbly build one’s self up and help others out. The positive side of office politics can secure and strengthen reputations, earn respect and build strong relationships.

Reputation in the Office

One strength of overcoming office politics by exuding positive techniques is that it helps create a strong reputation in the office. No matter what type of employee or co-worker, a reputation or brand supersedes. Whether known for working hard, always offering assistance or back-stabbing, one’s personal brand can help or hurt an employee’s chances of moving up the corporate ladder. Developing a track record as someone who accomplishes goals and gets results will lend itself to more opportunities.

Respect Is Earned

Status and job title only go so far in garnering respect at the office. The old saying is just as true as ever: Respect is earned. With a solid reputation, respect is available through constancy and continuous improvement.

If an employee is constantly putting others first and helping during a crisis, co-workers will start looking toward that sure-footed person as an expert in certain areas. This goes hand in hand with employers as well. If employees are always producing quality work, doing work outside of their specific pay grade and are well respected by their co-workers, management will also give respect.

Relationships in the Office

This aspect of good office politics is key in career advancement. Being genuine in connecting with others can create strong allies who will be great supporters and advocates in the future. Showing respect for other’s ideas, even when they may not be the best solutions for the company, helps strengthen professional relationships. Nicety and respect are still powerful tools to help influence outcomes at work.

A recent poll by Monster, an online employment solution company, concluded that 18 percent of co-workers do not want friends at work. Being friendly with those who do not want to be friends can be tough, but employees who focus on what they can do and bring solutions to the table will elevate their career by standing out as a problem solver.

Office politics can be a minefield to navigate. Some employees feel the need to create alliances against others, gossip or cut people down to elevate their career. But if one takes advice from the positive side of politics, moving up the office ladder can be achieved with bridges kept intact.

— Karen Dwyer is owner of Express Employment Professionals, 1025 Chapala St., Suite 206, in Santa Barbara. Click here to contact her or call 805.965.6900.

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