When I began working, I did not have an easy time adjusting to the way my company operated. I struggled with adapting to political behavior, which can be explained as the activities and things that people do outside of their required job description. These activities also play a role in how much influence a person in the organization has. I would follow a set schedule. I would get to work at the same time, leave work at the same time and take lunch at the same time every day. For most of my first year, I wouldn’t really talk to anybody unless it was about work.
I continued this behavior until I was offered the opportunity to do overtime. While doing overtime, I had a lot of one on one time with my supervisor and team lead. This gave them an opportunity to get to know me better. They were able to understand which power tactics, or the things that people in an organization do to get people to follow them or do things that they want to do. That they could use to get more out of me as an employee of theirs. This also gave me a chance to realize their vision or their outlook for the future was for me within the team. They had noticed that I was a hard worker and felt that I would be a great asset to their team.
I had just become a part of their team when my company moved locations. This time that I spent with my team lead and supervisor, gave me an opportunity to see how much power, or the ability she had to have people follow her or behave in the way that she wanted. However, seeing the power she had did not raise my dependence, which is how much someone would rely on someone in an organization who has shown that they have a certain level of power that could benefit someone who does not have as much power as them on her because I was under the impression that my hard work would be enough to get me a promotion or a new job within the company if I wanted. I did not realize her political skill, which is her ability to get things done within the company whether that was helping someone get a job or a promotion or her subordinates to work harder so she would look better as a supervisor.
During our company’s Christmas party, my supervisor pulled me to the side and spoke to me about how I was doing at the company. She explained that she wanted to see more from me and that she would soon be getting a new position. When this was supposed to happen, she explained that she would want me to become the team lead and our current team lead would become the supervisor. It took some time for her to get a new position, but when the time came for her to take her new position, I was not given the position of team leader. I was confused and upset about the decision as I had felt that I had shown her more as well as begun to be more social with the people that I worked with. I not only was talking more at this time, but I was also going out after work with coworkers and getting to know them.
I spoke with my supervisor who had become a friend at this time once the decision was made to find out why I was not made team lead. She was very honest and explained that people felt the person that was hired instead of me had “played the game” better than me. I was told that the person who was hired had gotten to know people in upper management and they had developed a relationship. The relationship that they developed led to her being selected as team lead. Hearing this, I began to shut down at work. I felt that my job was losing a sense of purpose. In the book “Drive” by Daniel Pink, Pink explains: We’re learning that the profit motive, potent though it is, can be an insufficient impetus for both individuals and organizations. An equally powerful source of energy, one we’ve often neglected or dismissed as unrealistic, is what we might call the “purpose motive”.
Getting a paycheck no longer motivated me at the company. I wanted to feel that is if not only I mattered, but that what I was doing mattered. This was also a learning opportunity for me. I realized that in order to “play the game” I would need to get out of my comfort zone. When I look at the 10 keys to workplace politics, I realize that I had to improve on many of them as well as start to do some of them as well. I had never done a power analysis, I did not know who had reflected power and I had never attempted to mirror those in power. One of my goals as a person is to be honest and have integrity whether I am at work or not. I have realized and continue to work on building alliances, winning my boss’s support, getting people to like me, finding mentors/building networks, listening well and being in the know, as well as being visible. I believe that by improving on these areas will help me to become successful in the political game that happens at many companies.