You don't dip your pen in the company ink.
David Schwimmer, TV Sitcom, Friends


Recognize Office Politics As a Tool

For too long office politics has been thought of as a manipulating device. Instead, recognize office politics as a communication tool that will help you effectively adapt. You should definitely secure a copy of Office Politics: Seizing Power, Wielding Clout by Marilyn Moats Kennedy, the guru of office politics. In this book she recommends you prepare a rough organization chart where you work.

Office politics exists everywhere: churches and temples, colleges and universities, corporate giants and small firms, and, of course government at all levels. That subject can make or break relationships, and oftentimes, can be the difference between promotion and more responsibility than failure. People do not understand the importance of office politics as a communication tool, unless, perhaps, they have been raised in a large family. Getting along with siblings can be quite challenging. Sometimes office politics is as simple as patting someone on the back when that person has done outstanding work.

Color Your Organization

Many semesters ago I started asking my students to think about office politics more seriously. The idea came to me from thinking of Marilyn Moats Kennedy, who gave seminars all over the world. She believes we have three major colors to worry about: red, blue, and green. In this rough organization chart color the people blue who will do anything for you. They will visit you in the hospital. They will go to bat for you with the boss. They will praise your undertakings and your successes. They care about you..

Color the people red who are against you in the organization. They are malevolent people who do everything but harm you. They may harm you through e-mail or memos. They will do nothing to speak up on your behalf. They do not want you to succeed in the organization. These are the reds.

Color the people green who are not sure about you in the organization. They don't know you well. They are hesitant to say anything, because, for the most part, they are neutral toward you. Advice from Kennedy: work on the greens the rest of your life in the organization. Then, you will have the blues and the greens on your side when the chips are down.

Avoid the Jerk Status

Hal Lancaster writes periodic columns in The Wall Street Journal, and one of his columns concerned "You Can Be Good at Office Politics without Being a Jerk." In the column he offered advice and "bolded" certain ideas every beginning or future employee should be aware of: