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Jun 01, 2022 01:09 PM EDT

University of Phoenix’s Five Ways to Manage Office Politics

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Photo by Surface on Unsplash

(Photo : Surface on Unsplash)

Office politics can impact career management and be tricky to tackle, especially for those trying to get ahead in their jobs. Ricklyn Woods, a career advisor at University of Phoenix, says that some element of office politics exists in every industry, and the main driver is usually career progression. "Employees need to know and understand that office politics exist in the corporate world," Woods said. "It's not going anywhere."

These are University of Phoenix's five ways to navigate office politics so you can flourish and maintain healthy relationships in your workplace or learning environment.

1. Learn to Observe

Not all workplaces are equal. If you're starting out in a new job, Woods recommends first taking time to get to grips with your office environment and your fellow team members. "You have to take a step back no matter where you worked before and understand the landscape of this organization," she explained.

Be curious about other employees and be open to learning about their work habits and personalities. Talking will not only help you understand others' skills, the remit of their roles and how they approach their work but also how individuals fit into the overall hierarchy. Each workplace has its own culture and way things are typically done, from how decisions are made to how employees raise issues and ideas, so pay attention to these nuances.

2. Internal Networking

Networking is not just for interactions between companies. It can also play an important role in helping you build relationships within companies. Fostering the right relationships in the workplace can often determine whether you move ahead. Woods suggests cultivating working relationships with those who can act as daily collaborators as well as mentors who can help guide you toward  higher-level positions. This doesn't need to feel cold or tactical if you're creating authentic relationships where both parties benefit.

Internal networking can also help you build bridges with colleagues who you may not otherwise work with. Woods explained that getting to know someone new can help: "I think the easiest icebreaker is learning more about what someone does. Why do you stay at this organization? What do you like about being here? What advice would you give someone like me who's trying to get to the next level?"

3. Avoid Gossip

Woods emphasized that employees should avoid workplace gossip. Sharing your concerns or frustrations about a colleague with a peer can be tempting in the moment, but gossiping will only reflect poorly on you. Avoiding gossip takes some self-reflection, but understanding the severity of your issue and who you are sharing it with can prevent potential harm to your position or progression. If the situation is not that serious and you just need to vent, it may be best to talk to someone outside of work such as a friend or family member.

If you have a legitimate concern that needs resolving or information that needs addressing, a better approach would be to take the complaint to your supervisor. Woods shared some wisdom she learned from a previous mentor: "Never complain to the right or the left or below. Whatever concerns you have, you should take them above to someone who may actually be able to influence change."

4. Prioritize Self-Awareness

It is just as crucial to understand yourself and how you fit within the dynamics of the office as it is to observe this in others around you. Armed with this knowledge of self and putting it into action, daily interactions and work dynamics become a lot easier. Knowing who you are, how you work and thrive, and what it takes for you to achieve success are all important factors to recognize and then convey to colleagues or managers. "You have to teach people how to treat you," Woods said.

If you don't know where to start, Woods suggested taking a self-assessment test or simply noting what work conditions have helped you succeed in the past. Think back to situations, conversations and feedback from previous jobs and try to identify patterns. Do you usually work well in a team or are you a self-starter? Do you need close guidance and regular feedback or a more hands-off approach from your manager? Whether a positive or a negative memory, every experience can teach you something about how you work and how you can integrate best into the office environment.

5. Acceptance

The last thing to remember about office politics is that however frustrating they can feel at times, they are a part of working life that isn't going away any time soon. "Know that politics exist, and they're not a bad thing," Woods said. "We need them in our country and in the workplace."

Rather than letting office politics affect you, seek genuine connections with others while being aware of how you work and advocating for your skills and efforts. Knowing the situation and responding strategically will not only benefit you and the future of your career but also those you interact and work with. 

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is helping students navigate career options and degree programs by advancing the educational goals of adult and nontraditional learners. The University offers degrees that prepare students for various in-demand career paths including futures in nursing, cybersecurity and business. With flexible start dates, online classes and numerous scholarship opportunities, anyone can earn the degree they need. 

Alongside this, the University of Phoenix's Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and graduates offers free, quality advice and resources to stay competitive in the workforce. These services include resume and interview support, career guidance, and education. Discover more information by visiting www.phoenix.edu.

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