One of the common complaints I hear from people about their current or prior jobs is how political the situation is or was. To me, this is like complaining about the weather.
There is always going to be weather. It is my belief that you can’t really appreciate a sunny day unless you have experienced a rainy one. And so it is with politics. Some of it can get pretty unpleasant, but by and large if you engage the broader implications of it all, you can learn to enjoy it.
And, I am not talking learning how to play people off against one another. What I am suggesting is that you can learn to understand the process and the good, bad and ugly that goes with it.
Office politics is usually a tough one for financial folks because we tend to view ourselves as apolitical. In our minds, the right or wrong in any situation is based on the analytics, not on the personalities. If only the rest of the world thought through problems the way that we do. Unfortunately, they don’t.
The most important way to stay on the right side of every situation is to do something that runs counter to type. Very simply, you need to push your ability to socialize with your peers to the very edge of your comfort zone.
Yes, I know you would rather sit in your office and work on a spreadsheet, (spreadsheets don’t talk back) but unless you are out and about in “the shop” on a regular basis you honestly won’t know what is going on, and no one will tell you. Because you hold the checkbook, you are already more than a little unapproachable.
When I was Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency in the 1980’s, I placed my office next to my boss. People were always trying to see him and because he was usually busy they would stop by my office to kill a little time. It was a great way to keep my finger on the pulse of the organization.
I also made it a point to walk the shop several times a day. It was good to get up from my desk anyway and in this way I maximized my opportunities to run into my peers and have casual conversations with them.
All of you who are or have been out and about in your job search would call this networking. Networking is a process by which you can create meaningful business contacts and relationships to further your career and enhance your professional life.
It is the basic tool of job search. It is also the basic tool for your survival in your current or future job.
Politics and networking have more in common than I would care to admit. But then, I was never good at keeping a secret.