May '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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18 || P R I N T W E A R M A Y 2 0 1 6 all, at some point in our lives, done something we were asked to just because the ask- er is the nephew of the boss? Or because they have been with the company since it operated out of a basement? Then there are the people who can make a room light up the moment they enter it. Of the seven bases, personal power is the one we would most like to lead from and probably the one we don't consciously think to develop. Getting people to genuinely like you is difficult and takes time, and personal power is the most fleeting of all the bases. PEAK SEASON FOR OFFICE POLITICS The moment a business undergoes change is when you can expect office politics to kick into high gear. The more significant the chang- es, the more sophisticated the power plays become. In this age of mergers, acquisitions, and "right-sizing" of organizations, the sur- vivors of such events jockey for more power and a more favorable position. Unfortunately, the carnage left in the wake of the politics can be devastating. The biggest mistake politicos make is believing that the business world revolves around them and their interests. They form alliances. They strike deals. They propose trades like, "I'll support you on this issue, if you back me on this one." Office politics are our own personal reality television show. Isn't it interesting when someone is voted off the company island? Sometimes people are voted out but don't leave, and they become organizational outcasts. If you decide to become active in office politics, you might start by mapping out the terrain and players. Look at who holds the most power and the sources of said power. Regardless of the degree at which you decide to play, begin with the premise that most office politics are not usually meant to be personal attacks. It could be that others just don't know you well enough or know where you stand on a particular issue. SOME DO'S AND DON'TS OF OFFICE POLITICS • DO form a network of confidants inside and outside of work. Join organizations and be active in groups that make you visible. DON'T trust the first person who is friendly or latch to a mentor too quickly. Ask a lot of questions to plenty of people, and gauge their responses and the organization's impression of them. • DO take on projects that help you get noticed; DON'T always offer to do the grunt work. • DO get along well with your colleagues and bosses; DON'T ex- pect your job to fulfill your social needs and DON'T bring your personal problems to the workplace. • DO mind your own business––unless you witness unethical or illegal behavior. • DON'T gossip or complain about the job or the company unless it is constructive and directed to people who can do something about it. DON'T waste your complaints on coworkers. • DO align yourself and your vocation with the corporate objec- tives. If you are the business owner, be sure your actions and inten- tions, which cannot be hidden from the watchful eye of your em- ployees, are consistent with the vision and mission of the business. • DON'T act so standoffish that others are afraid to speak to you. WANT A SECOND OPINION? If you'd like to learn more about navigating the water around the office, there are plenty of books out there on the subject. Ronna Lichtenberg penned Work Would Be Great If It Weren't for the People: Making Office Politics Work for You, a piece that mostly benefits those on their way up the ladder or those who are struggling to adapt with cultural changes in the workplace. There is a book on the topic from the "For Dummies" series, as well. Finally, Jeffrey Fox, author of How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization, has written a national bestseller that offers an unconventional look at the traits of CEO aspirants and some brutally honest advice in the form of 75 rules. We all want to advance our life's work. The trick is to ascend to the top without appearing to do so or climbing over others to get there. Taking the time to assess your power bases and conduct a self- examination of your modus operandi could be time well invested. Good luck! YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER

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