Office Politics: My Enemies Are Proliferating

A client recently opined that his enemies “must be reproducing after hours.”  He had done nothing to provoke such opposition.  In fact, he’s been more than ordinarily withdrawn because of a huge project and tight deadline.  What could have caused such hostility from co-workers?  He’d had a few minutes for an after work drink and nobody wanted to join him.  What’s going on here?

It’s called punishment for political sins — number one of which is failure to maintain ongoing, positive relationships with co-workers.  Translation:  You can’t ignore them for weeks or months without offending them.  This is neither new or unusual unless it’s happened to you for the first time.   The rule:  You can not withdraw contact, duck interaction with, or bury yourself in work without your co-workers punishing you.  Even if it meant working even more overtime, one lunch a week plus several casual contacts (known in the trade as acknowledgements) per co-worker per week is the minimum.  It can be as simple as 10 seconds in someone’s office asking how they are doing.  Your co-worker’s view is not that you’re working flat-out but that you aren’t interested in how he or she is doing.  Yes, it’s amazingly petty but it’s true.  Ignore the rule at your peril.

If your boss were even a decent politician — and she probably is or she wouldn’t be in her position — she might have warned you what would happen if you played political ostrich.  Not many bosses would but there are those who want their subordinates to succeed and  share their insights into what’s required to maintain useful relationships.  However, it’s up to you to recognize your co-workers’ needs and feelings and meet them.

My experience has been that even if you were hospitalized with a lingering illness you’d be expected to check in with a co-worker weekly with messages to be passed on to the “team.”  If you’re merely overworked you have no excuse.

If you’ve already announced your departure for a dream job you can ignore your co-workers’ needs — unless you recognize that the next group you work with will have exactly the same needs and behave as badly as the current ones have.  Robots, anyone?

Invite Marilyn to Speak to Your Group

Marilyn can help you and your team master office politics quickly! Why be victims? Contact Marilyn Moats Kennedy today to arrange a speaking date for your organization or group.

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Filed under Boomers, Millennials and GenX, Office Politics