5 Tips for Maneuvering Workplace Politics

Every workplace has its share of “office politics.” It’s a source of stress and anxiety and can even interfere with your productivity. I may be a recent graduate, but many internships and temporary jobs through the years taught me a lot about how to stay positive in the workplace.

Be Careful with Social Media

Going beyond the usual warnings about appropriate posts, exercise caution on blogging-336376_640whom you befriend from work. Make it a general rule not to accept Facebook requests from co-workers. It’s challenging, especially if you are new and want to be on good terms with everyone. However, you’ll avoid that awkward moment of explaining why you unfriended someone. LinkedIn is a smarter option, but don’t feel pressured to accept every invitation. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make friends at work. Friends are always a good thing! But take some time to study your peers and determine their character first.

Don’t Add to the Gossip Mill

Don’t gossip. It seems that people struggle here, but it goes a long way to establishing yourself as a trustworthy and honorable employee. Unfortunately, you may not accumulate many “friends,” but remember the office is primarily a place of work. Sitting quietly in the room while coworkers talk about others is also something you shouldn’t do. It amounts to complicity with what’s happening. Remove yourself or better yet, stand up for that coworker. It’s your responsibility to support a healthy work environment, where people are safe from harassment.

Try Something New Every Month

You really enjoy having lunch with friends at work, but make it a point to step outside of your comfort zone. Have a personal goal of learning something new about your workplace. For the first month, you might e-mail your supervisor and a manager in the sales department to ask if you can shadow one of the sales associates for an hour.

What initiatives are they developing or which platforms do they prefer to use? You may already receive some of the information in a company newsletter or monthly meeting with your manager, but learning about it on-site is a different experience. It’s also a great way to establish new working relationships and friendships across departments and even recruit another player for your summer kickball team.

Your Supervisor is your Best Ally

I’m always perplexed when people shy away from their supervisors, perpetuating the “us versus them” mentality. Instead of this avoidance tactic, it’s better to maintain a positive relationship with your director or supervisor. Today is a good time to start. Start small by catching him or her by the coffee pot in the morning for a brief conversation. Drop by his or her office now and then with updates about your project. Highlight the contribution of a teammate who provided the creative idea bringing you closer to the project goal! If you work remotely or in another complex, set up times to check in over the phone.

A good supervisor appreciates these efforts. Not all news may be good, but you’ve laid the groundwork for productive and constructive conversations. It also sets a record of information that can be used on your annual performance reviews (instead of hearsay).

Know When to Move On

Sometimes a job doesn’t turn out to be as promising as you expected. That’s part of life. Hopefully, you’ll still be able to pull out positive experiences from your time at a company: learning new skills, receiving an award, or increasing efficiency. Uncomfortable work environments, though taxing, still afford you with the opportunity to develop as a professional. What matters is that you came out of it and landed a new position elsewhere with your integrity intact.

Feel free to connect with Pat on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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