Navigating Workplace Politics with Roxanne Flores
Roxanne Flores, a native of Brooklyn, NY, is Vice President, Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer at Meredith Corporation, a role she assumed in April 2018 when the company acquired TIME, Inc. Roxanne oversees all aspects of the company's human resources worldwide, including talent development, employee engagement, labor relations and compensation and benefits.
I can't count how many conversations I've had with frustrated employees who hate office politics and refuse to play. Our interaction starts a little something like this: “So-and-so is a brown-noser, the boss' pet, etc.” This so-called “boss' pet” seems to be involved in everything, every special project and major initiative. How and why does this keep happening? The truth is, Chicas, those employees may be on to something valuable.
As the saying goes “You gotta be in it to win it.” Some people may not like hearing this, but my hard-earned experience in HR and the business world has taught me this: disengaging from office politics is simply not a sound option. Employees who are able to enter the “in”
group are at a great advantage. Not only are they able to get things done but doing so leads them to be recognized for their competence and ability to manage interpersonal relationships.
The fact is that avoiding office politics can actually hamper your career. At some point your hard work alone will not be enough to get you ahead. It takes solid performance, charisma, connections and political know-how to get ahead, especially in large matrixed organizations.
I have a former client who calls me for an annual HR check-up. The first few years, this person was steadfast in his belief that he would not change; he would not participate in what he perceived as office mind games. I told him this was just fine, at least he had made a decision on how to proceed. He would not play —and could own the consequences of that decision, good or bad. Well, early this year we talked again. Although he was the most qualified candidate, he was passed over for a promotion… yet again. The candidates chosen over him, while not as proficient, were chosen because of their ability to open doors and move the needle with incredible ease. This time, feeling soundly defeated and at a low point in his career, he wanted advice on how to avoid this from happening again.
The first thing we did was break down office politics. News flash, folks: these don't have to be Game of Thrones-style political intrigues, back-stabbings or nasty affairs that require spreading rumors or kissing up to superiors, as my former client believed. The truth is that working this system appropriately can allow you to propel your and your team's interests. With that in mind, here's what I asked him and my advice to him and to you now:
Who has the power to influence what happens to your career?
- Find natural ways to establish a strong relationship with your leaders. Build trust and establish rapport by raising your hand for projects and or making time to get to know them.
Who seems to be well-respected and recognized?
- Contrary to popular belief, most people don't just arrive at a job by osmosis. These folks, like you, likely have worked very hard over the years to gain their positions and the respect of their colleagues.
Are you well networked at the office?
- We tend to get caught up in the day-to-day and silo ourselves thereby limiting relationships to our immediate team members. I would challenge you to build relationships in all directions – co-workers, managers, executives and external partners.
Of course, there will always be egocentric players who attempt to manipulate, gossip and contribute to negativity. That is on them, not on you. You know what you're trying to achieve so get in the game, make connections and allow your contributions to shine.
You have this! ¡Manos a la obra! Until next week.
I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a tweet on Twitter @FloresRoxie