Ten tips to help you navigate and survive your organisation’s politics

Jo Larbie, 21st May 2018

Why is being politically savvy important to advancing your career?

In any organisation, being politically savvy means that you can work with other people and get things done with minimum fuss or experiencing unnecessary issues with your colleagues, line manager or senior leaders.

Political mistakes range from:

Ten tips to help you navigate and survive politics in your organisation

Being aware of and able to handle office politics when you encounter it is important in advancing your career.

  1. Find out who are the real movers and shakers within your organisation – it’s not always someone with an important title.
  2. Work out who are the gatekeepers – who have access to influential people, the decision makers – people who may be involved in decisions about your career and future. Get to know them where possible.
  3. As senior people are often time poor, don’t waste their time if you have a meeting with them – Prepare for the meeting, stick to allocated time, better still finish ahead of time.
  4. Be flexible when spending time with a senior person – if your time is cut short due to client demands, don’t moan, and understand that this is business: the Customer always comes first.
  5. Have a contingency plan: summarise the points that you wanted to make in your meeting and email it them.
  6. Stop! Engage your brain before speaking your mind.    All too often people get themselves into trouble by being too frank and annoy influential people – just because they ask you what you think, this does not mean that you should jump in with both feet!
  7. It can be a delicate ‘art’ – if you unwilling to say what you think, you may be seen as lacking guts or fearful.  However, being too frank and open in your response could create unwanted conflict and tension for you.
  8. Weigh up the situation and the consequences before you speak your mind. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to let other people speak first and then take your cue from them.
  9. Gossip – avoid providing or sharing.  It doesn’t take long before people find out what you have said about them.  If you choose to gossip and pass on stories, it could be career-limiting if not immediately, then at a future point.
  10. Ask yourself these questions before sharing this kind of information:

Mutual respect and trust are the foundations of successful professional relationship; avoid making your career difficult for yourself by losing the hard-won respect and trust of your colleagues, line managers and senior leaders.

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