How to Survive in a World of Corporate Politics (& In Life)
Have you ever applied for a promotion, and when you didn't get it, you blamed it on corporate politics?
If you have, congratulations. You are like many high achievers working in a corporate environment. You've done really well at your job, but neglected to do one thing that's crucial to your success.
For the first 15 years of my working life, I made a lot of mistakes when it came to navigating corporate America. One of those mistakes occurred every time there was an opening or position I wanted to apply for.
For a long time I mistakenly believed my work should speak for itself.
I assumed that because I had been Sales Rep of the Year, Sales Rep of the Quarter, led training for several teams, and done a dozen other resume-boosting things, that I would be a shoo-in for a promotion whenever one came along.
No one ever told me that's not how it works.
However, I hope to save you a lot of time and headache, so I'm telling you now. My hope is that you won't waste years of your life waiting for a “tap” that won't come.
During my time as a corporate employee, I was passed over for several promotions and several jobs I thought I was overly qualified for. At the time, I blamed these pass-overs on corporate politics.
I believed I had networked with the right people and that a much less qualified person got a job I deserved.
While I was misplaced with my frustration, I was right about one thing: People do tend to hire people they know.
Before you start shouting from the rooftops, “yeah, that happened to me too!”, let me share a secret with you.
It's okay to hire people you know, like, and trust. It's not corporate politics, its how life works.
Let me ask you a question.
Would you rather work with someone you know, like and trust?
Would you rather work with someone who says they have done great work in the past, but you don't know if they are trustworthy?
Almost every time, you and I would both choose to work with someone we're familiar with.
If, at this point, you agree with me, awesome. Let's keep going.
If you still disagree with me, good luck with that next promotion.
Back to the mistake I made several times. Each time there was an opening for a position I thought I was qualified for, I would start networking then.
My mistake was assuming I could walk into an interview, impress the hiring manager with my awesome skills and history of success, and earn my promotion.
My mistake was thinking that performance was all that mattered.
My guess would be, if you are still reading at this point, you've made the same mistakes I have.
Because I believe in you, and want to see you succeed, I want to share with you some of the techniques that will work if you choose to use them.
How to Use Corporate Politics to Your Advantage
1. Increase the size of your network. You need to have people who know, like and trust you all throughout your organization. You need to have advocates and other people who can recommend you for a job instead of you being your own champion.
2. Build your network earlier in the process. You need to start networking with the right people much earlier than 72 hours before your interview. The people who are making the hiring decision have to believe that not only you can do you can do the job, but that you can be relied on as well.
3. Be known for something. For about a year, I was known at my company as the guy who started the book club. You could be known as the girl who coordinates team lunches. Whatever it is, make sure its positive and you're not getting a reputation as the guy who doesn't shower.
I want to see you succeed! As I've mentioned several times before, everyone has a personal brand whether they want one or not. Your personal brand can open doors for you or close them before you even know they were there. Make sure your personal brand helps instead of hurts you in that interview .
If you find yourself making the same mistakes I used to make, do yourself a favor. Stop now.
Had I known how to use corporate politics to my advantage over the past few years, I could have reached even higher levels of success.
If you are an entrepreneur, don't worry, this all applies to you too.
When you're trying to build a business, you need to have people in your corner, and your clients will do business with who they know, like, and trust.
Now go out there, put yourself in the driver seat, and take control of your own success!
Question: Have you ever fallen victim to corporate politics? If so, how did you navigate your career?