Change Your Mindset:
Office Politics Isn’t a Dirty Word

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“When we win on an issue we call it leadership. When we lose, we call it politics. Practicing politics simply means increasing your options for effective results.”

~ John Eldred ~

When my client, Miles, heard the phrase “office politics,” it brought up negative associations (backstabbing, kissing up, gossip, who you know gets you to advance). One way to embrace and capitalize on office politics is to get rid of the actual words “office” and “politics” so you won’t feel so charged by these words. Instead think of it as “company culture” or “building relationships” or “how work is done.” When you have a better and more positive perspective, you’ll be able to embrace what is actually happening and leverage it to your benefit.

Once Miles changed his mindset, he was able to use these eight tips to harness the power office polit… er, “company culture, and you can do the the same:

1. Persuade others to your opinion.
Nobody exists in an environment where everybody agrees. You will work on projects and assignments in which many different approaches will be used by a variety of people. It’s important to understand where everyone is coming from and their different perspective. At the same time, you want to work on getting others to buy-in to your perspective. You can do this by providing factual information backed with logic. Also, strive to build a reputation that creates immediate respect. This will help you get the things accomplished you need to get done.

2. Don’t intimidate superiors. Try to avoid going over your superior’s head.
Most bosses feel a need to establish and maintain their authority. Often, based on their title and that they are a superior, they feel they can leverage and take advantage of their power and authority. It’s important for you to not intimidate them or go over their head because they will feel the threat of your actions and thus could undermine your career.

3. Make your boss look good.
Watch out for your tendency to avoid making your boss look good. Constantly look for opportunities in which you can help your boss shine. Making your boss look bad or saying something negative about him or her will come back and bite you.

4. Cultivate a positive, accurate and likable image.
The image you project can directly impact how well others trust you, like you and want to work with you. If you project a negative and unlikable image, it makes it easy for people to judge and question you.

5. Communicate accurate information.
If you constantly communicate accurate information, people will be less suspicious and less inclined to question your integrity. When the work politics start to get out of hand, others will rely on you because of the established honest and respectful image you have projected.

6. Be aligned to many groups – not just one.
It’s easy to be aligned to one specific group in your company. You either get drawn or exposed to a few people in one group and latch on to them. However, aligning yourself to many groups will help you when the influence of one group gets diminished or removed. You will want to rely on other groups and create a coalition to champion your ideas and projects.

7. Create allies who like you, support you and will go to bat for you.
Having a strong and wide network of allies is vital when the work politics start to disrupt and damage things around you. You’ll see how beneficial it is to have allies who can help mitigate negative situations.

8. If all else fails, move on.
After exhausting all your resources, talents and abilities in working the political system inside the company and getting nowhere, it might be time to move on. Sometimes the politics are so bad that you need to remove yourself from the toxic environment and make a fresh start in a new company.

If you need help navigating office politics to get ahead at work, Joel’s career advancement coaching could give you the competitive advantage you need. Sign up today!

Talkback: Have you ever gotten tripped up by office politics? What happened?

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Have to Let Someone Go?
Follow These Tips to Make it as Painless as Possible

Fired Employee

“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.”

~ Alexander Graham Bell ~

Letting an employee go is not a task to be taken lightly. If done in the wrong way, there can be unpleasant and long-lasting complications. This can include everything from expressions of unhappiness and stress from remaining employees to dealing with a negative reputation for the company, and even legal ramifications.

Don’t Be the Villain

In today’s world, disgruntled employees and former employees can easily spread the word about a company and what an employee considers to be unfair practices. This can result in a company that once appeared stellar suddenly looking like a villain in the eyes of hundreds or even thousands of online readers.

In many instances, the only way to repair this type of damage is with the help of online reputation management professionals like those at Reputation.com. Obviously, rather than dealing with such a frustrating situation at all, it is much wiser to let employees go in a way that will be as painless as possible for everyone concerned.

Who Needs to Know?

Letting an employee go is a very delicate subject. After all, the employee has a lot riding on that decision.

From the time the decision to let an employee go to the time the employee is actually told about the decision, privacy is top priority.

When it is decided that an employee should be let go, the decision should be kept quiet. To eliminate concerns about gossip or discussions about the decision, only the employee’s direct supervisors should be told about the decision in advance.

Clearly, the employee should be told about the decision in a private setting. Ideally it should be done in the manager’s office, and the door should be shut. The next best option is in a neutral setting that offers privacy, such as a break room or conference room.

Timing Matters

Until recently, it was accepted practice that separations be handled at the end of the day on Friday. However, that has recently changed. Nowadays it is becoming increasingly common to deliver such news earlier in the day, or even earlier in the week.

Rationales for this include the fact that if the employee finds out about the separation earlier in the week, he/she can immediately begin a job search. Plus, a separation at the end of the day on Friday could leave the employee with no choice but to sit around all weekend worrying about his/her situation.

This can result in increased stress and anxiety. In some cases, anger can build or the individual can become extremely distraught.

Professionalism with a Personal Touch

Being let go from a company hurts. Employees in this position deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. A manager should take the time to explain the reason for the decision. If employees feel they are treated unfairly – as in, they are let go without cause – the company’s reputation may be at risk.

It is common for the employee to have questions. The manager should answer those to the best of his/her ability. These questions may relate to things like severance pay, any 401K plans, insurance, COBRA, retirement, or other benefits/compensation offered by the company.

Offering parting resources such as information about unemployment, job training, employment counseling, and local small business development organizations can be especially helpful at this stressful time.

Exit Interviews

Being let go is upsetting. It’s emotionally disturbing, to say the least. Many people appreciate having a chance to vent after such a traumatic event. Exit interviews provide that opportunity. In some cases, the tools provided during these interviews can help people find closure after a job separation.

Debbie Allen, founder of TheThingsWomenWant.com, is a professional writer and blogger who specializes in topics of interest to women and online marketing strategies.

Talkback: What are your experiences with letting employees go? Do you typically handle separations early in the week, or do you wait until Friday? Have you ever thought about creating a termination resource packet to be used when handling separations?

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