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informal politics at work it will serve you to learn the ropes
Work Talk

Informal Politics at work – It will serve you to learn the ropes!


In our work environment we need to communicate information, negotiate, influence others and sell ideas, among other things.

In order to be successful at it and be able to reach higher levels of power, we need to understand the company’s culture and informal social rules and develop our political skills. This is even more true for women.

I’ve been working in an environment dominated by men for many years. And it’s become quite obvious to me that it’s more natural for men – almost like it’s part of their DNA – to decode informal politics and engage in the power games of the organization.

Women tend to believe it is the quality of their work that will make them get noticed and recognized – and as a result get promoted to roles of power. Unfortunately this is not always how it works…So it is ever so more important for women, especially in a management position, to be aware of this and to make an effort to take part in workplace politics.

Engaging in a company’s political games should not be perceived negatively or associated with having to be manipulative.

On the contrary, when you read this definition of “Informal Politics” by Wikipedia it becomes obvious that it is already part of our lives at different levels. We’re just not always aware that it’s the case.

Informal Politics is understood as forming alliances, exercising power and protecting and advancing particular ideas or goals. Generally, this includes anything affecting one’s daily life, such as the way an office or household is managed, or how one person or group exercises influence over another. Informal Politics is typically understood as everyday politics, hence the idea that “politics is everywhere”.

If you stay out of the game, you may have difficulty bringing your objectives to fruition.


1 Build your network
Use every chance you get to develop your network of contacts, in all fields of the company.

2  Maintain your relations
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It will create a good opportunity for you to return the favor by offering help. You want to develop relationships of trust.
Stay in touch, go to lunch once in a while with contacts you don’t get to see so often.

3 Analyse the hidden power structure (not the one on the official organizational chart!)
Some managers have more power and influence than their title may lead to believe. According to your own lecture of things draw the unofficial organizational chart of power and use it to strategize your moves. Keep in mind that it will evolve over time – and not only when there’s an official change in the structure.
Use your network to stay up to date as much as possible.

4 Discover the “who’s who”
You need to know which managers are allies, which are friends outside work, which are life mates (common in organizations of a certain size), which are ennemies, which managers are protected by whom, etc. Again, your network will be useful to build this knowledge.

Keep at it–It will help you see more clearly when comes time to get an idea across.

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