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THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF MINORITIES IN THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE 2009 Annual Business Meeting & Training Seminar Dealing with Office and Organizational Politics

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the association for the improvement of minorities in the internal revenue service

THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF MINORITIES IN THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

2009 Annual Business Meeting & Training Seminar

Dealing with Office and Organizational Politics

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Office politics, or how power and influence are managed in your organization, will be a part of your career whether you choose to participate in them or not.

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“Some workers say they don't want to get caught up in politics at work, but most experts argue that playing the game is crucial to your career success. By not getting involved, you may find your talents ignored, your success limited, and you may feel left out of the loop.”

Louellen Essex, co-author of "Manager's Desktop Consultant: Just-in-Time Solutions to the Top People Problems That Keep You Up at Night."

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“Politics get nasty when an employee is out for his or her personal gain alone," Essex says. "Think of playing office politics as a game of strategy through which you are able to get the resources and influence you need to accomplish your goals. Most often those who are diplomatic, respectful and build coalitions with effective people win."

how to win at office politics

How to Win at Office Politics

(Hint: It’s Like Basketball)

get to know your teammates
Get to know your teammates
  • You don’t have to be best friends or go on camping trips with them, but do try to show genuine interest in finding out more about each of them.
  • Everyone is interesting if you care enough to ask the right questions.
don t be a ball hog learn how to pass
Don’t be a ball hog; learn how to pass
  • If you’re working on a project that required a team effort and you did a great job, don’t hog the spotlight.
  • Winning at office politics means spreading the credit around and being a good team player.
help your teammates up after a drive to the hoop
Help your teammates up after a drive to the hoop
  • If you see a co-worker struggling or know that someone could use an extra hand, help them out.
crash the boards
Crash the boards
  • Another fundamental of office politics is crashing the boards.
    • Second chance opportunities always seem to present themselves if you know where to find them.
    • If your boss or co-workers have to miss a meeting, offer to jump right in and take their place.
keep your hands up at all times
Keep your hands up at all times
  • Don’t be afraid to take on unpopular projects that no one wants.
    • If you volunteer for a challenging project and succeed, you will look 10x more like an all-star.
    • If you fail, no one thought it was possible anyway and will chalk it up as inexperience.
scout out your competition
Scout out your competition
  • Don’t think for a second that you don’t have competitors.
    • These workers can be above you, below you, but more often than not they are working right beside you fighting for that same promotion. This is what office politics is all about.
    • Your competition probably already knows your Excel or PowerPoint skills are not what they should be.
    • It’s a good idea to have a firm grasp on their strengths and weaknesses as well.
make your free throws
Make your free throws
  • You know that daily 30 minute meeting that everyone hates to go to because it seems to drag on forever?
    • These meetings are like free throws. They might look ordinary, but they are the single most important part of the day. Not only are you usually in a room with the people who have the most influence over your next promotion, but you are being judged on this stage everyday.
    • Do yourself a favor, be prepared for these meetings because playing office politics demands it. Even if you don’t have much to say, always be prepared to say something. If you miss your shot, you can be assured your competition is waiting to pick up that rebound.
seek out a veteran to mentor you
Seek out a veteran to mentor you
  • The easiest way to know the road ahead is to ask those who have traveled the route before.
    • Realize that everything you are about to do on the job has pretty much been done before.
    • Yes, you may be smart with a college degree and all, but to “veterans” you’re really not that special (yet).
    • Seek out a well respected veteran in the organization to help mentor you.
      • Pay attention to their communication style, network of relationships, and the types of proposals they say "yes" to most often.
      • Emulate those traits by drawing on the strengths you have.
don t turn the ball over
Don’t turn the ball over
  • One of the most overlooked fundamentals of office politics is to not turn the ball over.
    • When given a special project by the boss or the boss’ boss, take this as a sign of trust that you are progressing.
      • Stay late, check your work, and seek advice from your teammates and mentors. But whatever you do, don’t drop the ball or you might not get another chance for a while.
play hard for all 4 quarters even in garbage time
Play hard for all 4 Quarters - even in garbage time
  • Don’t let others ever see you goofing off or taking it easy.
  • If the boss is out of the office, this is actually the time you should commit to working harder.
    • Don’t take advantage of the situation by taking a longer lunch or slacking off on assignments.
    • Others in the office are keenly aware of your performance while the boss is away. Don’t give them any reason to throw you under the bus.
be a floor general
Be a floor general
  • It’s never about who is in charge, but who takes charge.
    • You don’t have to be team captain to be a leader.
    • Winning at office politics is really about watching how you carry yourself.
    • Take ownership of your mistakes and never blame anyone.
do post game interviews
Do post game interviews
  • Control your story before others do.
    • Ask others what they think of your performance and where they think you can improve. This is easy to do around review time since everyone is worried about their own situation.
    • If you’re not happy with the current PR you’re receiving, then someone else is controlling your story.
      • Take steps to fix it and get the story straight.
      • If you want to be known as the tireless worker who is first in and last to leave, then act like it.
shake hands at the end of the game
Shake hands at the end of the game
  • Even if you leave an organization on bad terms, don’t burn any bridges with anyone. The odds are high that you will see some of these people again in your career.
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Winning at office politics is just like playing basketball. As with any game, it takes practice and the more you do it, the better you’ll get.