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A good book on a rainy day is happiness for me - Ruskin Bond

Saturday, January 21, 2012

HOW TO DEAL WITH OFFICE POLITICS


When I first joined as a stenographer in a private firm in my hometown Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India,  my job was to type out work orders or invoices of the firm. Afternoon 2 hours was sleep time.

The first taste of bitter office politics came to my way when my boss's son resisted me  in taking  afternoon siesta.  He  tried to wield   authority on me and began asking me  to do some  work unrelated  to my sphere of job.

Being  a young man of 21 years and to gain experience in the job, I tolerated the hardships. But the situation precipitated further as he started yelling at me that I could not write numerals properly in the cash book and I had to bite the bullet.

My father being in Govt. service by that time counselled me to tolerate as I needed to get experience in the job. As the situation did not improve, I was compelled to quit the job after some months as my boss joined with his son in harassing me.

After a brief gap of some months, I joined in another firm. This time the pain was of finding no time to prepare for competitive exams to gain a govt. service. The day used to be jam-packed with office work. My work included typing and accounts work. It was a lot of struggle to cope with those trying times. I continued  with the job only to earn those needy bucks to meet my pocket expenses and also offset a part of  burden on my parents.

Though the job did not raise any hackles, but for pure salary considerations I joined in yet other firm. Within a month, they showed me the hell. Deliberately, I was put to work till 9 pm. When asked, my immediate boss who was a Senior Manager, Accounts, tried to convince me that I should win the laurels of the management by sitting late into night even if I don't have any work to do. That concept almost damaged my self respect. I just severed myself from that company and joined back the previous firm. After some months, the bounty of God came in the form of Govt. job as I was selected for the post of stenographer in Central Government.

My first posting was at
Udaipur in Rajasthan. I was handicapped with speaking in Hindi.  But I arduously followed my dad's advice that I should first create the best first impression before my boss. After seeing my credentials and capability, my boss assigned me Accounts related work also in addition to my stenographer duties. For some months, it was a smooth sail. All of sudden, one day, my boss handed me an order that I should take over the charge of Mess Secretary ( managing our Mess - job is much  like a hotelier managing / purchasing the provisions/ vegetables and maintaining related accounts). I just flared up with the kind of assignments given to me.

I approached my boss to spare me from such duties as I was new to service and hardly know the local language - Hindi to handle the local people for purchases. After a little struggle, my boss was convinced and he rescinded the order.

When I dug deep  to know who was responsible for suggesting my boss to assign me such new set of duties, I was shocked that my colleague who was an elderly man and head clerk in the office  instigated my boss to assign me such additional duties. I faced his sore acts head on. After grappling with him for certain months, I wrote my own commandments to protect   from the murky office politics.

I drew my Lakshmana Rekha to what extent I should stretch myself for helping others or taking help of others.   You should not be within his/her firing range. Better not take too many favours. Never indulge in financial dealings as they may exploit the situation. In a vicious office atmosphere, people try to figure out your mistakes or weaknesses and you should be conscious enough to act in an unpredictable way.

In fact, there is no straight jacket formula to cope up with office politics. The essentials are, you must be honest  in your financial dealings. Create confidence in the eyes of boss that you are a hard worker.   Don't spoil your relations with subordinates who are your real messengers to handle the courier jobs of your reputation. Help out anybody, within your permissible limits. Don't make empty promises. Don't bank upon too much on colleagues. Too much rubbing shoulders with immediate colleagues who are working in the same premises will create problems and sometimes, they may destabilize your position.

Just meet the boss's requirements. Need not stick labels on your face about all your other talents. Just give according to their needs. In that way you would save your creative energies for your productive use. Instead of campaigning all yours strengths and carry the burden of others' expectations, it is better to shut the mouth and silently immerse in your own personal improvement.

One last advice is : Read the book : "Art of War", by Sun Tzu, the 5th century Chinese military general". This is a epic book which used to be under the pillow of
Anil Ambani when he locked horns with his estranged brother Mukesh Ambandi. This book is such a fantastic thesis that  gives a mountain of wisdom to harness human relations,  and most importantly how to deal with your enemies, simply not in combat fields but in real life social situations also.

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