In the past, the prevailing wisdom was to separate oneself from office politics, to sidestep dealing with difficult people in order to be viewed as a more mature, valuable employee. However, Jeffrey Pfeffer, a business professor at Stanford University, challenged that view in a recent Wall Street Journal article.
Rather than seeing office politics as something to avoid, Pfeffer asserts that, “Many promising executives derail sometime during their careers, often because they weren’t very good at office politics.” Basically, he believes that learning how to participate in office politics effectively is an important skill to have to help one’s career.
The article details how it is desirable to understand how to interact and work with different people in the course of a work day. While it is good to avoid gossip or unimportant disagreements, “research finds that a person’s political skills are key to building a successful career—for the good of both themselves and their company.”
It is not surprising that successful people are good at knowing how to interact with other people. And in a situation where many different people are working on many different things, it is not surprising that occasionally different personalities come into conflict. The successful person knows how to rise above minor agreements to get things done.
Ultimately, Pfeffer redefines office politics in his Wall Street Journal piece. Getting involved in office politics is not getting dragged into petty matters. Instead, it is a matter of networking and knowing how to get along with people while getting things done: “Being politically savvy is not about pushing others down or being untruthful to advance your own cause. Instead, it means building networks—relationships—with people inside and outside your company who can provide useful information and assistance. It means not picking fights over issues that aren’t critical.”
In order to become more skilled at dealing with difficult people or at navigating the waters of office politics, a simple online personality test could be an excellent tool. By understanding your own personality and your own strengths and weaknesses, you will be more prepared to engage with people in a more effective manner.
As a result, an online personality test could be an important investment in your career. Indeed, Pfeffer says, “Power skills, like all skills, can be taught. Courses in how to understand and navigate networks of people in organizations have been shown to help win promotions. Even smart people can have all sorts of wrong ideas about interpersonal behavior. Sometimes executives need to learn some basic social psychology to set them straight.”
Even if dealing with difficult people or difficult situations is a challenge to you at the moment, a small investment of time and money can put you ahead of the game and increase your value to the organization!