Politics in the Workplace: How Women Can Embrace the Struggle and Use It To Get Ahead

Politics can make or break your career. If you are working really hard and want to get ahead, you certainly don’t want to be passed over or pushed aside, right? Well then, let this be a wake-up call for you. You need to get “real” when it comes to how you fit into the current culture of your organization.  You need to take a good hard look at whether or not you have the political savvy to thrive in such an environment.

The reality is that you cannot afford to ignore the politics if you have any aspirations for advancement. Yes, hard work is important.  Yes, performance is important. That being said, once you reach a certain level of technical competence, politics is what makes the difference for your career success. This is especially important for women to understand. To our detriment, we continue to avoid workplace politics and set ourselves up to being blindsided and passed over for promotions.

Every organization has unique political dynamics. You have to be willing and capable of adapting in order to not only get ahead, but stay ahead.

So, how do you become politically savvy? You need to observe, listen, and ask questions.

Who is getting promoted and why?

With whom do they have relationships?

How are people rewarded in your organization?

What did they do to get noticed?

What types of behaviors are not rewarded?

Who can be your champion?

Who seems to be in “favor” and why?

Are there certain people who have access to the leadership team?

The willingness to accept the importance of workplace politics for your career advancement opens the door for you to learn how best to navigate the political landscape. It prepares you to learn the political skill necessary to thrive in your organization.

Here are the five things you must do to master the political realities of the workplace:

  1. Self-promote. You need to identify your value proposition; the unique way you do the work that contributes to successful business outcomes. This is the foundation of savvy self-promotion. Knowing your contribution to the business helps you to build relationships of trust and influence by aligning your value proposition with what others want and need.
  2. Observe the work environment. You need to develop keen observation skills to see beyond the organizational chart and identify who really has the power and influence.
  3. Build a strategic network. An expansive and strong network helps you to do your job better and also avoid blindsides. Relationships with influencers helps position you for success. Build and nurture relationships with people who can have a positive impact on your career.
  4. Find a sponsor. This is the fastest and most efficient way to navigate the politics and get to the top of your organization. A sponsor will protect you and promote you within the organization.
  5. Hire a coach. A coach helps you to understand your unique value proposition and shows you how to promote and position yourself across the organization with a sound strategic plan.

You must ask yourself where you would be today if you were more savvy and tuned into the way decisions are made in your company.

And most importantly, what is possible for you in the future if you are willing to learn how to effectively navigate the realities of the workplace?

 

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About the Author: Bonnie Marcus is an executive coach, international speaker, writer and award-winning entrepreneur. Marcus runs the online platform “Women’s Success Coaching,” which Forbes listed as one of the top 100 websites for women three years in a row, and is the long-time  host of the CBS syndicated radio show “GPS Your Career: A Woman’s Guide to Success.” A regular Forbes contributor, Marcus has also been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CIO Magazine, Diversity MBA and WomenEntrepreneur. For more information visit www.womensuccesscoaching.com

 

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