Many businesses are defined by their company culture, which simply defines the personality of the company. A company’s culture is also referred to as the beliefs and behaviours which determine how employees interact with one another. And in reality, this often portrays the internal political game that lies with the company. Even though the corporate game or office politics is often expressed as negative, over the years, I have learned that choosing not to play the game (or being ignorant of its existence) can actually hurt more than playing the game.
Whether you’re a team player or not, once you hit the corporate workplace, playing the corporate game will often become one of the only survival mechanisms.
Unfortunately, many workers and even leaders play the corporate game with the goal to form alliances and gain power. So yes, you might not like to play politics, but can you imagine what happens if you decide not to? Especially, when everyone else is? Just like any other game, playing the corporate game really depends on how you play it.
Here’s how to play the game:
1. Get more than the work done
Many corporate newbies go to work thinking that if you just get your work done and work within your ‘job description’ you will be fine. Wrong! (Unless… you’re not really into your job). Successfully playing the corporate game is not just about getting your work done. It’s about teaching yourself how to anticipate situations and learning how to always think beyond your job description.
This doesn’t mean overworking yourself and staying in the office till 7 pm. However, be determined to:
- have the solutions to problems that do not even exist yet.
- find different ways to do your job more efficiently
- continuously perfect or learn new skills.
Which leads to the second point….
2. Work smarter
Stop working harder, and start working smarter. Take the time to look for different tools and systems that will help you do your job more efficiently. Something that might normally take you two hours to finish, might end up taking just 30 minutes if you have the right tools – However, a new tool or system might not always be feasible or part of your department’s budget.
So, if that’s the case, try looking into updating/revamping your existing tools or worksheets. Also, you can look into free calendar and planning tools that will help you work more efficiently such as Google Calendar or Asana.
3. Set personal deadlines
If you have noticed that you are always running out of time, start setting personal work deadlines, before the actual project deadline. This way you always create a timeslot, leaving enough space to tackle last minute (unwanted) work surprises without having to work harder, and most importantly without stress.
4. Start saying “No”
In the corporate work environment, you will definitely meet individuals, who love to take advantage of ‘yes’ people. Of course, it is flattering to have someone more experienced or in a higher position asking you for help. However, sometimes it’s all part of the corporate game.
In the corporate workplace, you can really not afford to worry about whether you are liked or not. Wanting to be liked might lead you to become a ‘yes’ person. And that’s how many people end up being used to work for other people’s successes, without even receiving the credit for it.
YES, it is important to maintain a good relationship with your colleagues. If you can help someone with a difficult task, go for it! However, if helping your colleagues means that you have to drop your work and ignore your own responsibilities, respectfully let them know that you might be of better help another time – In other words, it’s a ‘NO’.
5. Watch out for toxic colleagues
The corporate workplace is, unfortunately, full of it… people who often feel highly threatened by your rise or success. In most cases, their main mission then becomes to drag you down with them. As you can’t always avoid any unwanted interactions with toxic individuals, beware of them and don’t allow them to get under your skin.
Don’t fight sneaky, always fight fair. And most importantly, don’t allow their toxic behaviour to turn you into one of them.
6. Control the only element you can – yourself
One of the key elements to gaining success not only in life but also in the corporate workplace is to gain control over your emotions. You cannot control what happens in your organisation, neither can you control people’s actions, the only thing you do have full control over is your own attitude and behaviour. And that’s the most valuable and powerful asset you have. Keeping your integrity and not allowing the corporate game to change you or your values.