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Who Said Office Politics is a Game?
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

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Some credit professionals choose not to involve themselves in office politics. The main reason most people don't "play the game" is that they are not good at it. This is one "game" you must learn to play... but it can be played in a professional and an ethical way.

Some people are more adept at office politics than others. The good news is that you don't have to be great at office politics--- just better than the people you are competing with.

The following statements about office politics are true:

  • It is not a game.

  • A real game has rules that people follow...but office politics has no specific rules

  • The rules change constantly, and they are open to interpretation

  • There are no rules, and participants do whatever makes sense to them.

  • There is no half-time or rest period in office politics --- meaning that it is

  • played" daily.

  • In this game, alliances change periodically, and the "players" may change sides or uniforms

  • There are no spectators --- every person plays for himself or herself.

Career Limiting Activities and Office Politics

It is impossible to prepare a complete list of career limiting actions or activities. A partial list, containing some of the more common CLAs include the following:

1. Badmouthing the boss to co-workers. Listing your manager's shortcomings highlights your lack of good judgment and business acumen is information that is likely to find its way back to the boss.

2. Checking every decision with the boss. Doing so makes any credit professional appear inexperienced, insecure or unqualified --- not the attributes of a credit professional.

3. Constantly avoiding all risk and confrontations may be comfortable and feel safe, but if you have the courage to present new ideas you may prosper while others are overlooked.

4. Disagreeing with your manager in public. The trick is to disagree in private - not display the department's dirty laundry for all to see.

5. Failing to admit when you are wrong. Doing so demonstrates maturity, and indicates both the ability and a willingness to learn from your mistakes.

6. Failing to recognize that hard work alone is unlikely to get you noticed and appreciated by senior management. [If it were, people like construction workers and factory workers would be promoted regularly into positions of authority. There is little benefit to working hard [or working long hours] if no one knows it but you.

7. Failing to toot your own horn for fear of being seen as arrogant, narcissistic or self-serving. Experienced credit professionals learn to note of their achievement and accomplishments, and bring this information to the attention of senior management from time to time.

8. Ignoring the important of keeping your desk or office neat because doing so makes you appear organized and in control.

9. Keeping negativity to a minimum. Minimize the amount of complaining your do. Recognize that almost everyone has too much to do.

10. Over commitment. If you volunteer for every assignment, you risk failing to meet important deadlines. Therefore, it is best not to over commit.

11. Refusing to perform menial work. A streamlined organization values individuals who can contribute wherever they're needed.

12. Refusing to lead by example. If you want your employees to be successful, demonstrate a willingness to work hard for that success as well.

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