Work Place Politics For Dummies

The phrase “politics” is thrown around a lot in the workplace and it can mean a number of things. It’s used to describe a decision that doesn’t make sense or that you don’t like “the choice to go with the other candidate was political”. It’s also used to describe ways to get ahead “playing the political game”. The latter of those two is my forte and what I’ll discuss here.

If you’re like most of us, work is something you have to do. Your coworkers and bosses aren’t as much your friends as they are other humans you are forced to be close to and interact with on a daily basis. Here are some general rules of thumb that you can use when trying to use corporate politics to get ahead.

With Your Boss

  • Always ask him how his weekend was? No matter how boring the answer is, it’s always something that You’re “jealous of” or it “sounds like a great time”. Treat your boss like the most interesting man in the world
  • Identify as early on as possible what type of manager your boss is. Does he micromanage, is he completely hands off. Tailor your work style to his management style. I had one boss who was a huge micro-manager and I’d make a point to ask him questions (often times embarrassingly simple ones just so he could answer and feel like he was involved). Fake It Till You Make It.
  • Social Drinks. These can always be tricky, but if executed correctly will have a HUGE impact on your relationship. Depending on how creepy (for the girls) or annoying (for the guys) your boss is, ask him/her to grab a drink after work. Once he starts opening up about internal company politics etc. you’ll know that you’ve hit a new level with your boss.

With Upper Management – Not Your Direct Manager (i.e. skip level or on other teams)

  • Have the awkward conversation and ask them to grab a coffee with you. Most people who are in positions of power love being asked by younger employees to sit down and network. Take advantage of that.
    • Side Note: This could be a un-PC take, but girls will have it infinitely easier here. Anyone who has worked at a large corporate office has seen a hot young female talking to an exec 50 levels above her. Say what you want, but T and A work all day.
  • Find reasons to stop by their office and pop your head in. I don’t know shit about cars, but when I first started out I had a VP who was a car guy…you better believe I was stopping by his office talking about turbocharged engines and the newest Porsche.

With Other Coworkers (peers)

  • Identify who your competition is for future promotions. Who are the top performers and who are the non-factors. If you can’t tell who the weak links are, then it’s you
  • Your Competition…Find a way to grab after work drinks with some of the other top performers. People open up when they drink and you can get an idea of what their ambitions are and how concerned of them you need to be.
  • The Weak Links…you should avoid these people like the plague at your office. Their shitty reputation is contagious. The last thing you need is for other people to see you with these losers and associate you with them.


General Stuff

  • I love throwing shade as much as the next guy. Who doesn’t love just ripping another coworker to pieces over a drink or two? Just make damn sure you know who you’re talking to. I’ve seen multiple people get blackballed because they were talking shit in front of the wrong person. Snitches don’t get stitches in the corporate world.

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