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How to Navigate Your Way Through Office Politics
By Yusuf Salwati

Being hard working, experienced and well educated are not enough factors to help you win support for your project within the corporate environment. My first real experience with office politics happened to me relatively very early in my professional life.

While studying, I was hired by my college to head the purchasing department, while the pay was not much, the job gave me a considerable decision making authority on selecting vendors to supply the college with its various needs. I really liked my job, talking with suppliers and negotiating contracts was fun and easy, so I was so confident in my skills and in my ability to reorganize the department to make it more efficient that I totally became results oriented and only had my mind on the end results and… here’s where I went wrong.

Older and most senior staff members felt as if I were stepping over their authority and that I was not sticking to the ways things done around there. The changes I brought to the department were really good and the teaching staff was pleased by the progress I was making, but the whole idea didn’t resonate very well with the senior staff members.
As I moved on, I have faced office politics in my other jobs; it’s the reality of the work place. So what could you do to navigate your way through office politics and win support for your project(s), knowing that, working hard and being a problem solver is not enough?

  1. Always pay attention to the views of the decisions makers.
  2. When you come up with new ideas, try to introduce your solution in a manner that is not intimidating to your peers or your direct supervisor, your co-workers may feel intimated by your energy levels, it happened with me.
  3. If you feel your project is not getting the desired support you hoped for, then be patient and wait for a better chance to start talking about it again.
  4. If you feel that your project will not get the support you wanted, try to get more people involved and work as a team.
  5. Always keep in mind; people are, by their nature, reluctant to change.
  6. If after doing all the above and you still can not get the needed support for your project, than maybe it’s time to take your ideas somewhere else.

I worked as a Project Manager in a few places and even though my job title was “Project Manager”, my ideas faced fierce resistance as I didn’t follow the above guidelines and eventually all my efforts were wasted.

Yusuf Salwati, currently working as Project Manager for an IT firm in Saudi Arabia, have been working in the IT field for the last 13 years. Work experience includes: customer support (HP, Compaq CompUSA), network support, and Global Management. Yusuf has his own blog, the “http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/itproject/“, on the IT Knowledge Exchange.

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