In Part I of this short series on "newbies," we explored how it feels to be in the role, and how to be more comfortable in it. In this part, we look for ways to build relationships with your colleagues and others in the workplace.
- Build rapport with peers
- You probably aren't alone in being a newbie. Help others when they ask, but don't foist help on those who haven't asked for it. Learn from others how to be a leader at your own level.
- Build rapport with superiors
- There are no quick ways to build rapport with superiors. It takes time and it takes care. Stay out of their way, learn what you're supposed to learn, practice humility, and be a leader among your peers.
- Establish credibility opportunistically
- Credibility comes when two things are in place: (a) you must be expected to have answers, and (b) you have those answers. Supplying answers when you aren't expected to have them risks seeming arrogant; not supplying them when you are expected to have them risks seeming incompetent. Wait for the right opportunities, and then deliver.
- Seek professional advice from the bottom up
- If you have questions, ask the lowest ranking person who might have the answer, then work your way up until you get what you need. Aiming too high might be seen as currying favor. See "Currying Favor," Point Lookout for June 8, 2005, for more.
- Seek personal advice elsewhere
- Don't seek personal advice in the workplace. It's a bad idea for most, but for anyone of low status, such as the newbie, it's especially risky.
- Find a true mentor
- Wait for the right opportunities,
and then deliver
- Mentoring has been fashionable for some time, but budgets for mentoring programs have been cut in many organizations. Find a mentor truly interested in your career, even if it means going outside the formal mechanism.
- Learn how to handle newbies
- Someday, one of your responsibilities will be developing newbies like yourself. Watch how people handle you. You now have an opportunity to see what works and what doesn't. Few people take this opportunity; most tend to focus only on the content of the work.
- Learn how to connect with people in other professions
- Most workplaces contain a mix of professionals. Notice how your superiors relate to people in these other professions, and learn from their successes and failures.
- Learn about ethics
- Most of us would benefit from additional training in professional ethics. Pay special attention to the ethical choices of those more experienced than you are. Learn from their mistakes; learn from their deftness.
Someday, you'll be where your superiors are now. Notice who is succeeding and who isn't, and try to understand why. Their trials and successes are lessons to them and to you. Top Next Issue
Is every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info
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More articles on Workplace Politics:
- Devious Political Tactics: Credit Appropriation
- Managers and supervisors who take credit for the work of subordinates or others who feel powerless are
using a tactic I call Credit Appropriation. It's the mark of the unsophisticated political operator.
- When You Think Your Boss Is Incompetent
- After the boss commits even a few enormous blunders, some of us conclude that he or she is just incompetent.
We begin to worry whether our careers are safe, whether the company is safe, or whether to start looking
for another job. Beyond worrying, what else can we do?
- On Badly Written Email
- Even those who aren't great writers do occasionally write clearly, just by chance. But there are some
who consistently produce unintelligible email messages. Why does this happen?
- Suppressing Dissent: II
- Disagreeing with the majority in a meeting, or in some cases, merely disagreeing with the Leader, can
lead to isolation and other personal difficulties. Here is Part II of a set of tactics used by Leaders
who choose not to tolerate differences of opinion, emphasizing the meeting context.
- Dealing with Credit Appropriation
- Very little is more frustrating than having someone else claim credit for the work you do. Worse, sometimes
they blame you if they get into trouble after misusing your results. Here are three tips for dealing
with credit appropriation.
See also Workplace Politics and Managing Your Boss for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 14: Pseudo-Collaborations
- Most workplace collaborations produce results of value. But some collaborations — pseudo-collaborations — are inherently incapable of producing value, due to performance management systems, or lack of authority, or lack of access to information. Available here and by RSS on June 14.
- And on June 21: Asking Burning Questions
- When we suddenly realize that an important question needs answering, directly asking that question in a meeting might not be an effective way to focus the attention of the group. There are risks. Fortunately, there are also ways to manage those risks. Available here and by RSS on June 21.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenHoWzUJVeioCfozEIner@ChacbnsTPttsdDaRAswloCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
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- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
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- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
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Beware any resource that speaks of "winning" at workplace politics or "defeating" it. You can benefit or not, but there is no score-keeping, and it isn't a game.
- Wikipedia has a nice article with a list of additional resources
- Some public libraries offer collections. Here's an example from Saskatoon.
- Check my own links collection
- LinkedIn's Office Politics discussion group