I’ve been talking with a client this week about office politics. He has recently been fired from a new job and he also spoke about previous temporary assignments that were not renewed, so what’s going on?

When we start a new job, and as a temporary worker each assignment is like a new job, it is very important to understand the culture of the new organisation and the style of your new manager. Whilst it’s important that you get on with your co-workers, the most important one to get on with is your boss. People are different, and bosses vary in how they want to manage you. To get off to a good working relationship you want to find out what they want. 
TRUST:  In a new job your new boss is likely to manage you closely. They need to learn to trust you, so whatever they suggest, or ask you to do, you do it with a smile and do a really good job. You need to gain their trust before you can have more autonomy, suggest changes or simplify things.

TEAM PLAYER:  You need to appear as a good team player.  Arrive ready to start at e.g. 8.30, don’t spend the first 20 minutes getting ready.  Offer to get people coffee, wash the mugs, if you jam the copier, clear it, etc.

LISTEN:  Never say anything negative about your previous boss, co-workers or company. Don’t think you know it all and listen carefully to what other people say. There will be cues about the way people work – the importance of certain procedures, the culture.

GET TO KNOW COLLEAGUES:  If your colleagues suggest you meet for lunch, go to an after work quiz etc, what ever it is, accept!  It’s a quick way to get to know others and by meeting them outside work you may learn all sorts of information to help you in your job – why your predecessor left and some useful information on your boss etc.

TAKE FEEDBACK IN GOOD GRACE:  Joe told me that in the two jobs he was asked to leave that they "nit picked" on tiny things he did. When you are new in a job you need to have a thick skin and to accept the feedback given in good grace.  Maybe they prefer a different approach, maybe they are very fussy.  Whatever they say, smile, don’t challenge and make sure you do it their way next time. In a few weeks time, when you’ve demonstrated your capability, you can then make suggestions but not too early on.

BE WILLING TO DO THE RUBBISH JOBS:  In some jobs it may take you a while to get up to speed and alongside learning the new job you may have to do some more mundane tasks.  Be willing to do this.  You obviously don’t want to spend most of your time doing low level jobs, but being willing to do some of these tasks does show you as a team player.

ACCEPT PEOPLE:  Some of my clients find it difficult to work with people who are not like them – different culture, background and personality. Dara said she goes into her shell around British people, but is fine with people from African countries. James relates well to his peers but gets tongue tied with his superiors. Both Dara and James are likely to find that their attitudes and fears get in the way of working well with others.  Joe said that he became defensive around people. It’s certainly one approach, but is it helpful? When we act defensive there is no rapport. We avoid eye contact, can avoid talking with them and the relationship deteriorates.

But change the situation around – expect to like the other person, be warm and friendly and see what a difference it makes.  
Published On: May 22nd, 2008 / Categories: Career Management /

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