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Throwback Thursday: Polishing Your Political Savvy

Regardless of whether you work in the public or private sector, office politics are a fact of life. The web of office friendships, rivalries, and tensions that defines your workplace can either catapult your career forward or stop it in its tracks. If you’re going to get ahead or even survive in the workplace, you have to play the game.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a natural schmoozer to navigate the perils of office politics. Asking yourself specific questions about your interpersonal skills, teamwork, and decision-making can help you target areas of improvement and become the “it” person in the office.

This Throwback Thursday, I’m shining a spotlight on Kathy Wentworth Drahosz’s post on the importance of being politically savvy. Meet up with a coworker and mentor and take a look at the questions Drahosz raises. Do you know the key players in the office? Are you on board with or openly critical of your team’s mission?

Originally posted by Kathy Wentworth Drahosz on December 11, 2012.

We all know those “it” people in both our personal and professional lives. They are the ones who just always seem to get it right. They quickly rise within the organization, are touted as “the one to watch”, and are universally liked by all. They consistently say the right thing and have the ability to stay above the fray when there is drama or controversy in the office. They always seem to be “in the know” and generally keep their own council. These are the politically savvy.

Having political savvy is not just a desired characteristic in the workplace, but a critical professional attribute - especially if one hopes to acquire a leadership role in their professional future. It is an orchestrated balance of using the latest organizational information and trends and making them work to ones advantage. Equally important are interpersonal skills. It is not enough to have the “inside” information to use for professional and organizational gain but rather the aptitude to know how these trends will affect decision making and the outcome of colleagues and coworkers. And lastly, it is about unity. It is about building others and letting them know that they have an equally important stake in the mission as well as in their own success.

The next time you meet with your mentoring partner, consider the following questions and your degree of political savvy in the office.

Do I have a full grasp of where the organization is going?

Do I know the key players?

Do I know its current mission and am I “on board” with the current mission?

Or am I openly critical of both the mission and its players?

How do I interact with my colleagues and coworkers?

Do I just go in and do my job?

Do I try to engage in all of the gossip?

Or do I try to stay above the fray?

Am I perceived as personable and professional to every team member in my office?

Even the ones I particularly do not care for?

Am I a team player?

Am I enthusiastic about what we are doing?

Or am I often complaining?

Do I work well with others?

Or do I often get outwardly exasperated with certain members?

Do I share credit?

Or do I take as much of it as I can for myself (after all, it is competitive out there)?

What kinds of connections do I have?

Do I actively engage with those connections? Do I try to make more?

Or am I completely apathetic?

What is my listening style?

Do I readily offer my opinion?

Or do I hold my tongue until I can process the entire round of responses?

Who do I think has great political savvy in the organization?

Why?

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