In case you were struggling with office politics, last week we asked you “What would Frank Underwood do?”.
The fictional politician from the show “House of Cards”, played by none other than Kevin Spacey is the master of office politics and probably the only example of a modern day Sun Tzu. Observing him weaving in and out of tight spots in the show to become the President of the United States is a lesson by itself.
Combining his wisdom with the evergreen book on power dynamics, Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power”, we selected 5 rules for you to follow to tame the beast of office politics. If that was not for you, we are back this week with 5 more.
Rule #6 Your Best Friend at Work will turn Into Your Worst Enemy
Although we spend close to 50 hours a week in the office, we should always remember that it is work and should not confuse it with the rest of our lives. That guy or girl you hang out with at the pantry area, go for lunch with and meet after work for gym may soon become your worst enemy, given the right circumstances.
At some point, only one of you will get the attention of your manager and get promoted and that is where the problem starts. The closer the friends you are, the more of a betrayal it will feel like. You do not want to cultivate enemies in your workplace. The solution? Be professional at your workplace and treat people as your acquaintances, not friends.
Rule #7 Never Outshine Your Boss
It had been a few months since I had joined the company when the General Manager of the Asia Pacific division had a 1-1 with me as they do with all the new hires.
Fresh out of university, I was expecting him to talk about innovation and work ethics and contribution to the company. Contrary to my expectations and to my complete disappointment, he told me “Your job is to make your manager look good“.
Turns out, this whole office dynamics exist on the single principle that you have to make your immediate superior look good. Leaving aside pride, somehow what your manager have to say about you has way more credibility that what you have to say about yourself. The worst mistake you can make is to try to do the opposite and outshine your immediate boss.
With your future in their hands, he or she can completely destroy you. You should try to stay out of the limelight and build your own network in the company. However, until that is complete, you have to keep making your manager look good.
Rule #8 Discover Every Man’s Weakness
In the quest for self survival, be an astute observer of human nature.
Identify those tell-tale signs which demonstrate personality flaws in your coworkers and superiors. If your manager cannot complete a sentence without throwing in a jargon like some MBA textbook, he or she might be trying to hide perhaps their lack of solid domain knowledge.
If a certain coworker of yours is always at the beck and call of the manager moving heaven and earth to complete unreasonable work assignments, he or she might be dying for approval. You should notice all these and use them to your advantage.
To the manager who is using jargon to cover up, be a crutch to them with your knowledge and become indispensable.
For the co-worker parched for approval, play to his or her insecurity, use praise and flattery to get your own work done. Once you know everybody’s weaknesses, they are like play dough in your hands, ready to be molded into anything you want.
Rule #9 Words Make a Poor Statement, Choose Action Instead
If you occasionally have to defend your position in the company, do not choose words but actions instead.
Instead of arguing that you are doing the job to your best abilities, results you have already achieved will speak volumes. Too many times we get over emotional and make the mistake of arguing our point of view. However, if we temporarily retreat and use our work to demonstrate, this will hold way more credibility.
Rule #10 When It Comes Time to Defeat Your Opponent, Crush him Completely
This is perhaps the last option left to you. Your superior and coworker had probably made your life a living hell, you cannot leave the company due to some reasons and you really need a job. For survival, you have to take them out. You have slowly gathered evidence against them, an email trail which probably shows off their incapability and lack of professionalism.
When you need to eliminate them, perhaps in front of the higher management, you need to defeat them completely. You should perhaps attack them from more than one direction and perhaps during a time when they are busy or on vacation, when they cannot defend themselves easily. A completely defeat is necessary because if your opponent is allowed to recover, you will end up leaving the company.
Disillusioned with Life ?
After reading this, if you feel that the whole human existence has no meaning like I felt after watching Brad Pitt’s Se7en, working in an office laced with politics may not be the best for you. As I always say, if you cannot change things, setup your company and run it with the child-like idealism you had.
Also read: 5 Definite Ways to Conquer Office Politics