Take the bite out of political animals

Dear Joan:
Your recent column on political animals was more than an amusing game of matching leopards with their spots. It was a painful reminder that as despicable as the political animal's behavior may be, they seem to get the lion's share of prizes in today's workplace. 

A follow-up column recommending strategies for successfully working with these animals would be immensely helpful. 

Your column has revived my sanity more than a few times and it's the first section I grab. Thanks for the coaching.
 

Answer:
Doesn't it make you crazy? Every workplace has one; the sneaky, overly ambitious, political weasel who gets ahead. It doesn't seem fair...why can't top management see this creep for what he is? 

Take heart. There are ways around political animals- and you don't have to play their game to be politically plugged in. Positive politics is the game everyone should play to advance new ideas and get along with their co-workers. If you follow the rules without stepping on other players, you'll have a better chance of being a good guy who finishes first. 

Often, people confuse positive politics with nasty politics; so they refuse to reach out beyond their jobs to get to know other people and miss opportunities to get the recognition they deserve. They are so worried about looking political, they do nothing at all. If you wait quietly in the corner and expect that the organization will magically discover your hidden talents, you're in for a long wait. 

Here are some positive ways to deal with these animals, while protecting your own hide: 

The Schmooze Hound and the Glory Gobbler kiss up to the top dogs and steal recognition. The good news is, the longer they are with an organization, the more likely they will be exposed for what they are. In the meantime, don't sit back and whine about it. Make a conscious effort to get some visibility for yourself and your work. Make sure copies of your significant reports and accomplishments get sent to the right people. 

Take the time to get to know the people above you in your company. The best way to do this is to get involved in cross-department committees and projects. Your good ideas and hard work will get noticed and you'll get a reputation as a person who encourages positive change. If you aren't able to do this, get active in other ways, such as the company baseball team or volunteer to be on an organizing committee for a Company event. Sometimes you can do this in your regular job. For instance, I know a person who was a security guard and had such a sparkling personality and attitude of customer service, he was promoted to be the company limo driver.He was in an excellent position to represent the company to outside visitors, as well as meeting all the key executives. 

The gossip fly is another irritating pest who can do a lot of damage. When they spread their foul information about a co-worker, say, "Oh I like her, I hope it's not true!" If they gossip about you, calmly approach them and say, "I heard the strangest rumor...someone's been saying… The truth is..." 

The spineless worm bends any way they can to avoid conflict or risk of any kind. If you work for this creepy crawler, you will need to gather support for new ideas long before you present them for approval. This slippery soul will be hard to pin down so you will need to take calculated risks on your own if you want to get anything done. If this worm is a co-worker with whom you share responsibilities, document mutual expectations in writing and present your boss with update reports on the progress you've made on your half of the projects you share with this indecisive worm. 

Overly political people are aggravating and obnoxious but take comfort in the old adage, "What goes around comes around." 


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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