4 ways to use office politics for the good of your career

While talent and motivation are essential factors in forging a successful career, the subject of office politics cannot be ignored. It simmers in the background constantly, and while it may be almost too subtle to identify at times, it has the potential to hold your career back. If you are determined to ensure that doesn’t happen, there are 4 strategies you should be employing in the workplace.

1. Find out who the real players are

Offices often have very complex hierarchies, and understanding how yours works will allow you to use it to your advantage. Of course, your bosses will have an obvious seniority, but you need to know which of your colleagues wields a disproportionate amount of influence. Who has the ear of your supervisor? And who can’t be trusted with information you don’t want getting back to management? Once you know how everyone fits into your office’s pecking order, you can negotiate daily politics by manipulating the right people.

2. Steer clear of gossip

The last thing you want to be seen as is the office gossip. If you are being asked to divulge secrets, it means that someone has probably put you in a position of trust. To break that trust could set your career back considerably. However, you also don’t want to appear untrustworthy and standoffish amongst your peer group. Whether you plead ignorance or simply avoid gossip altogether, it should keep you out of trouble.

3. Remember that that the walls have ears

Everyone gets annoyed and fed up with their bosses, workload or office politics from time to time, and venting that frustration is only natural. However, try to keep your rants out of the office, as you never know who is in earshot of your latest tirade. It is also a good idea to keep Facebook and other forms of social media purely for your private life, as impetuous status updates made in the heat of the moment could cause you serious problems.

4. Kill them with kindness

If you can forge a reputation for being approachable, friendly and helpful, you will gain an enormous amount of trust within the office. This could put you in the driving seat when promotions are in the offing. It can also head off any potential confrontations that have the potential to spiral out of control.

Playing office politics involves a delicate balancing act of selective communication and subtle manipulation. But get it right, and you could give your career a welcome boost.

Do you have any tips or comments about office politics?