You maybe in your teenage years and don't yet know about the big corporate world that lies ahead of you. Your biggest work experience so far might be McDonalds or AMC Movie Theatre. Eventually one day, you will reach that age where you'll enter the corporate world, and office politics will rear its ugly head. Fear not, my child, office politics isn't by definition, gossip or backstabbing. Office Politics instead is, learning how to assimilate with the corporate culture you find yourself in, being tactful and diplomatic, making your accomplishments visible without bragging, having a crowd mentality with your peers while standing out, networking with key players in the organization and adhering to office ettiquette.
Here is knowledge I've garnered with many years in the corporate environment and I want to bring this to this community so all of you can use them as a guideline for when you graduate and get an actual career. (Or if you already have a career)
Note, the following info is for like a real corporate environment, think white collar job with casual fridays, company happy hours, companies that cater in food every now and then, companies that pay in salary with full benefits, office or cubicle jobs, co workers that are in their mid-20s all the way up into their 50s, co workers that all have bachelor's degree, companies that have fun committees with company paid for outtings or Christmas parties, companies that raffle off white sox tickets or iPads for employee of the month, type jobs.....although...office politics do exist virtually everywhere in varying degree.
Rule number 1: Dress professionally
Seems pretty straightforward but it really isn't. There is a deeper reason for why I say this. In the corporate world, appearences are everything. You can do the same amount of work as the guy next to you in a hoodie and khakis, but you'll be perceived as the harder worker by dressing more professionally and keeping your wardrobe stylish and up-to-date.
Rule number 2: Avoid office romance and flirting
There are several types of companies: Companies that allow dating but only with people of your rank, companies that don't allow dating at all, and companies that frown on inter-office romance, and all three may or may not mention this in their employee handbook. Implicitly stated or explicitly stated to date or not, you want to avoid office romance altogether because even if things do work out, things can get awkward. If things don't work out, they will get awkward...if you're a guy and you flirt with a girl who doesn't like you, things can get taken out of context and she may bring up to a superior that you made her feel uncomfortable, next thing you know, you're being pulled into the manager office with sexual harrassment on your hands because most likely it's her word against yours. It's best to maintain corporate professionalism with the opposite sex as much as possible.
Rule number 3: Don't join in on the gossip
It's a common known fact that the kitchen, office cafeteria, break room and smoking area are the places people let down their formalities and let their tongues run loose, but guess what, everything you say has a way of going viral around the office...even that kind of blah comment you made about a co-worker to another co-worker can come back to haunt you. People will act agreeable and friendly to everything you say about someone else, then turn around and say what you said to the person you were talking about. You don't exactly know which co-workers are allies, so it's best to not only walk away from gossip, but to avoid gossiping yourself.
Rule number 4: Don't add your co-workers on social media, and for fuck's sake not your boss!
Yes, it is easy to find and add co-workers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram...some may even add you back. Some may add you back and then act a little weird around you at work the next day. You don't want to add people from your work-place on social media because you don't want to mix your personal life with your work life. If you do want to add co-workers, or must add them, make sure these people are trustworthy, even-keel folks that are likeable company wallflowers. Actually, if you must add on social media, stick with LinkedIn only. However, don't EVER add your boss on social media, I don't care how cool he or she is, the minute you do...everything gets awkward.
Rule number 5: The IT Department moniters everything...browse at your own risk
Yes, you have high speed internet access on your work computer or company provided laptop you get to take home with you every night. But guess what, going into incognito mode isn't going to prevent your company from knowing what your browsing habits are. Some companies block access to porn or social media sites, otherwise don't, which can make it very tempting. You go on Ashley Madison, Girls Ask Guys, OkCupid, or any porn site and next thing you know...the operations team has a internet browsing log print out from the IT Department on every site you visited, when and where. Also, if your work has an instant messaging system (for you to be able to instant message your co-workers) you best believe everything you message your co-workers about is monitered. People do get fired for not possessing tact when talking on an instant messaging platform to co-workers for what they thought was a private conversation.
Rule number 6: No-one gives a shit about your personal life
When people ask you how your weekend was, this is how you respond "It was good, I spent some time with my family and I went to the city to hang out with some friends, how was yours?"
This is not how your respond "It was good, I spent time with my family, then I went to the city to hang out with some friends, I met this girl named Brittney and we really hit it off, I ended up banging her at her apartment and all day she's been texting me. I don't know if she's just a hook up or what, but check this text message out that she sent me and tell me what you think. I may bring her to the company outting next weekend, her friend is a butterface...so anyways when we got drunk on Saturday we were at this club called........."
You see how the first is non-descript and the next isn't? The more you talk about your personal life, the more chances you give for people forming opinions of you, getting offended or rehashing what you say to others.
Rule number 7: Keep a low profile with Upper Management
You'll eventually figure out whose the Director of Operations, the CEO, The Senior Manager of...so on and so forth. Some maybe friendly and they may smile at you and make eye contact. Others will most likely walk around from time to time and never make eye contact at all. The higher up they are, the less you'll see them, and the higher up they are, the less eye contact they make. It's best to match their demeanor. If they say hi, you say hi, if they don't make eye contact, nor should you. If your eyes meet, do a quick nod and a quick smile and mosey along. If they are on the elevator with you, say hello and keep your mouth shut. If they ask you how you're doing keep it simple. Essentially, the more you say, the more you show up on their radar and that can be bad news. If asked how things are going, here is how you respond: "everything is going great, it's been busy, but I like being busy" and then keep your fucking mouth shut.
Rule number 8: Never go past your direct supervisor or manager and talk to your boss's boss
Unless of course, you have a very specific question that you know for sure your boss can't answer. But regarding the job or problems you're having with your job, ideas or suggestions you have that can improve or streamline company operations, so on and so forth...should all be directed at your direct manager. By tossing around ideas or suggestions on what you feel would make your company better to your boss's boss, or your boss's boss's boss...you will most likely come across as a conniving employee who doesn't understand corporate hierarchy. The best example of this was in the show Dexter, season 1, when Officer Morgan goes beyond her boss (Captain Maria LaGuerta) to suggest an idea about some murder to her boss's boss. Her boss's boss immediately scolds her for going behind her boss's back despite liking the idea.
Rule number 9: Never preach too much change for how things should be done
You got it, you're a super genius that figured out a way to improve customer retention, decrease downtime for Customer Support, increase company revenue by 800 percent with a simple change in branding, etc. However, even if you're right, by going around tooting your own horn, you make people around you feel incompetent, make them feel like you look down on them, and your blatant disregard for the status quo could mean you get fired. When it comes to ideas and suggestions, it's best to keep them to yourself, only offering your ideas and suggestions in an off-hand manner if asked for it, and to simply follow the herd with how things are done. But how do you stand out from your peers you say? Ask your direct managers for extra projects outside your role, start networking with other departments and ask them how things are done and then relay that information back to your boss and somehow tie that in with your job, offer to lend a hand to your co-workers, speak up during company meetings when management is open to ideas. This leads me to my next point....
Rule number 10: Insinuate ideas and suggestions to management and never outshine your boss
Outshining your boss means calling out his mistake in front of others or coming across as more intelligent or talented than he is. For instance, on a Powerpoint presentation in front of everyone, there is some clear mistake and you correct your boss on in front of your peers...bad news...even if it doesn't seem like a big deal, but do it in private. You must make your boss feel more intelligent and more talented than you are, even if he isn't...in order to get promoted further down the road. As far as ideas and suggestions, insinuate them into the head of your boss, make your boss feel as if the ideas or suggestions you have for the company are his and not your own. If you yield to your superiors and possess incredible tact and ettiquete, you'll get promoted by your boss, but you won't get promoted if your boss feels threatened by you in any way.
Rule number 11: Don't be so quick to rush out the door right when your work day ends
It's 5:00 and your work shift ended, I get it, you want to rush out the door and beat rush hour traffic, maybe you got somewhere to be. But do this consistenly and you'll be perceived as someone that just does the bare minimum in a given day. What you want to do is hang around for a bit after 5. Pretend like you're wrapping something up here and there and casually get up at 5:04 to leave. By doing this, you come across as the person that'll put in the last minute or two to polish up whatever work you were doing. Furthermore, you also want to arrive at work 5 to 10 minutes early and you some times want to work through part of your lunch period. Whatever makes people perceive like you go the extra mile...do it.
Rule number 12: Holding the elevator door for others and refilling coffee goes a long way
Don't develop the reputation as the guy who takes the last cup of coffee and then doesn't brew the next batch. People will notice. You want to go the extra mile and wipe down the kitchen counter, restack the coffee stires, napkins and refill the coffee. Of course, you aren't a janitor, but taking the time to be mindful of others from time to time can go a long way. See someone step into an elevator after you? Ask them what floor and push the button, hold the door open for everybody behind you as you're leaving work, these tiny things, will add up over time.
Rule number 13: Never brag about your accomplishments but make them visible
Here is an example of bragging versus letting others read between the lines
"I'm good a lot of things, one thing I am good at is football, I made it on the high school varsity team as a Sophmore"
"The time you fell down and twisted your ankle reminds me of the time when one of my team mates on our high school football varsity team fell down and got hurt. I was the youngest guy on the team, but my coach told me to carry him off the field, and this guy is two years older then me but it felt great to help someone"
You see how the first is straight up bragging and in the other, you say the same thing without saying it and only bring it up because you're weaving it into a conversation? This is an analogy of how you bring up your work place accomplishments to your boss.
Rule number 14: Don't make excuses when you're at fault
Came late one day? And your boss reprimanded you for it? Don't make excuses because it will make matters worse. Just say "Sorry about that, won't let it happen again, I'll stay a little after to make up for it" ....problem solved.
Rule number 15: Don't leave a paper trail and other Email ettiquette
Did a co-worker send you a nasy email or message? Your best bet is to hold off for some time before responding, by doing so, you reduce the risk of writing back in haste. Also, you don't want to leave any electronic paper trails of anything that can be later used against you. It's best to be non-confrontational, avoid trying to always prove you are right even if you are, and talk things out in private. Also, with emails, make sure you don't hit "reply all" because when replying to a message someone sends you, by hitting "reply all" you're entire company can get it, and depending on what you say, it could be career suicided.
Rule number 16: keep your resume up-to-date with new skills and talk to HR about promotions
Update your skills by learning new things and update your resume. Forward your resume to your boss and ask him what he things of your new skills. But when it comes to promotions or asking for salary raises, go to Human Resources for advice on what's available. Most likely, HR is unbiased unlike your boss or management. HR knows everyone's story, they know whose on a work permit, whose a US Citizen, who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, etc. but they never go around telling people these things because HR is HR, HR is your counselor for anything regarding positions, salary, benefits, time off, etc and regarding anything of this nature...take it up with them, not your boss.
Rule number 17: Don't pig out or get too drunk at company outings
It seems like a no-brainer but you'll be surprised at how many people get major drunk at company parties when the alcohol flows freely. Alcohol is there to get you to loosen up a bit, so one to two drinks max. It's no excuse to get majorly wasted. Just because you are not at the office and it's not office hours doesn't mean you're not at your work place. Also, just because they have a buffet doesn't mean you have to go and pig out with several plates of food. You will be seen as a tactless glutton if you do, so be mindful of how much you eat.
And that's all I have, got anything to add, add it below.