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As I wrote elsewhere, I feel that my role as a manager is being marginalized by my superiors. I am loosing some of my responsibilities, and my managers (both director and line manager) tell me that I am doing great and that I should keep on doing so.

I was promoted twice already in the company before these issues started, so I truly feel that my issue might be company politics. As a matter of fact, I know nothing about company politics and how to navigate them. I feel that partly this may be due to me having a busy personal life (family commitments and health issues) and most of my focus is on contributing to the bottom line in line with what my managers ask me to do. I am also very proactive with new initiatives and strategies, but I never ever promoted any of these with "personal agendas". All I do is think what's best for the company and embody that in my attitude and actions.

So... if I am new to this whole "company politics", how do I start learning how to overcome the hurdles and navigate them, rather than being drowned and sunk by them?

closed as too broad by IDrinkandIKnowThings, gnat, Jim G., Michael Grubey, jcmeloni May 8 '14 at 12:07

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • This seems a little bit generalized, but I think it could still garner some useful advice, if only in where to seek further advice on the subject. As someone who also is terrible at office politics, +1. – Zibbobz May 7 '14 at 18:44
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Forbes has Office Politics: Must You Play? A Handbook For Survival/Success which notes in part:

As reported by Chad Brooks for Business News Daily, here is some advice from Robert Half for using skilled communications to navigate the politics you cannot avoid:

Build a broad coalition of support: Lobby for the respect and trust of all your colleagues, including those at the grassroots level. Forge strong alliances by sharing credit for successes and delivering on promises.

Avoid smear campaigns: Gossiping or mudslinging can only damage your own credibility. When you are upset or frustrated, wait until you’ve calmed down to express your concerns. Be direct but tactful. Focus on the black and white facts.

Stay true to your values: There are those who’ll do anything to “win,” but on the whole, character and credibility will eventually prevail. Don’t give in to the temptation to play underhanded games to rise through the ranks.

Connect with your constituents: Smart political candidates tailor their message and approach to the audience (in life coach parlance, we call it “speaking to their listening.”) What is it that a particular listener or audience wants to know and needs to frame the information within? What are their priorities and goals? Employees should apply the same tactics to communication with co-workers. Observe their unique work styles, priorities and communication preferences in order to best adapt your approach.

Play by the rules: Avoid sticky situations by paying attention to the office protocol. If you make a misstep, make amends quickly.

So there is something to be said for knowing values and culture as a starting point.

The Win-Win Way to Play Office Politics from the New York Times notes:

These are the negative and stereotypical examples that help give office politics a bad name. Certainly, there are many unethical and unprofessional ways to be political, said Marilyn Puder-York, a psychologist and executive coach based in the New York area and author of “The Office Survival Guide.” When it is done ethically, though, no one loses, and you’ve “enhanced your reputation with the right people,” she said.

To Dr. Puder-York, office politics is a balance between cooperation and competition. There are times when it causes harm and dysfunction, and other times when it motivates and inspires employees, enhancing productivity and creativity, she said.

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The organization's behavior is the best indicator of your status in the organization. Your focus on the bottom line is probably keeping people from getting to know you on a personal level. Set aside some time to visit around the office, offer your expertise to the people you can truly help. NOTE: I said expertise not advice...that is for a reason. Show them how to do XXXX instead of telling them how to do XXX. Then, step aside so they can repeat what you showed them how to do. Be a consultative coach as they step through the process. Finally, have them teach you how to do XXX. You will be able to assess how well they understand the process.

Direct reports may also use you as a sounding board for personal problems. Make time to listen, and use active listening skills to help them clarify their thoughts.

At a peer level, ask them for their opinions on actions you intend to take. Most managers will appreciate the chance to opine. The way I usually do this is to get the work 80% complete then tell them you are having trouble making XXX satisfactory and ask for their opinions to make it work...I've use this stratagem several times myself and taught it to others to successful outcomes.

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  1. Politics is the art of managing conflict. People decry politics as impure and inglorious and the source of crass compromises but I'll take that any day over bullets and shrapnel whizzing toward me.

  2. Politics is also the art of building coalitions to getting something achieved that you and others couldn't do by yourselves. Again, people's motives may be pretty crass but then, you have to take the attitude that it is betterto do the right thing for the wrong reasons than to do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

  3. Finally, politics is the art of getting someone else to do the work for you. Of course, it's going to cost you.

You have to know what you want and because you won't get everything you want, what you can live with. You have to decide what you are prepared to give up and where you are drawing a line in the sand rather than give up. You have to decide how much you want to demand, and what unmet demands you can live with. You have to learn to be an accomplished opportunist with a keen eye for timing, opportunity and circumstance.

Bill Clinton is a master politician. So was Lyndon Johnson. Read everything you can about their bios. They should give you pretty good pointers on how to be effective at politics. Politics is one subject where books can give you guidelines, but you really learn by living it and doing it.

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