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Friday, January 25, 2013

Politics Office Ki

Somebody once said that politics is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Considering how rich politicians are today, I’m sure a lot of us would love to try our hand at being scoundrels, at least for the money. :) 

But the good people that we all are, most of us may not have the 'required' skills. 

But we all sharpen our axes constantly as we are all subject to politics at another popular place.  And this post talks about Rajneethi Office Ki – or as Dhanush would say in ‘only Engliss’ – “Office Politics”. 

The power plays, the ass-kissing colleague, the manipulation, the sleeping babe (:)) who gets promoted, the favoritism, the good for nothing guy who is the boss’ golf buddy, the nepotism, the low ranking secretary who actually runs the office, the "games" - it’s all very, very real … 

Office politics existed even before Dilbert made a living out of it and a few friends of mine helped me make the following office lingo where one thing is told but the real meaning is something else

What management says
What it really means
“I’ll get back to you on that”
I’ll need more time to come up with a better excuse. 
“He was the only candidate who cracked the case study with such wonderful insights and he exhibits a thorough understanding of the basic challenges underlined in the case study and hence hired” 
he’s my nephew 
“The head of sales may not have the requisite expertise to handle this issue … ”
 I hate that prick 
“He in a meeting right now” 
 he’s gone home for his afternoon nap. 
“She has a great eye for detail and is a hard worker” 
 I’m sleeping with her 
“We may need to relook at your goals”
 You’re screwed. 
“I’ll need a relook at the data to confirm that ”
 I have no clue what the fuck just happened!! 
“Our appraisal process is designed to reward outperformers and motivate the ordinary to do the extraordinary”
 you’re not getting a raise this year. 
“According to certain reliable sources…” 
 According to the latest gossip… 
“That distinguished gentlemen named…” 
Woh haram khor, saala maatherchooo…. 

OK, I must tell you that this post was inspired by this very cool movie I just saw called ‘Margin Call’ – supposedly a ‘thriller in the financial meltdown’ (with thankfully very little finance and very little meltdown :P).  But what the movie really is at heart is about how different levels of office hierarchy react to a particularly serious situation – and their behavior is something that we all can relate to.

The story starts inside a nameless company that is throwing out 80% of its work force. A low ranking analyst discovers a problem that if not acted upon, could wipe out the entire company overnight -  how the different levels of the office hierarchy react to this sinister situation is what the movie is all about.   

But what makes the movie so juicy are the many implications about office politics that we all know but don’t say.   Few of which I could pick up are: 

· The juniors work harder – I bet you knew this one!  It is usually always the juniors of any company who really work their asses off!   In the movie, the men at the top don’t even know the basic technicalities and demand a simplified explanation of the problem in “plain English” - Tuld, the top guy, tells the analyst that “it wasn’t brains that got him to the top” and to explain the issue to him “like he was talking to a golden retriever”.  And the irony is that it’s the juniors who are kicked out first in the event of a downturn (again reaffirmed in the movie!). 

· You will get rewarded if you’re really good – There’s a difference between “being good” and “being really good”. The analyst eventually gets promoted for proactively identifying the problem while his friend, who’s ‘just good’, gets axed.  Their boss too, was initially kicked out and then was bought back exclusively for his unique ability to solve the problem and got rewarded handsomely for it.  Think of it – it’s almost the same that happens in our offices too – that crazy dude in our office who seems to be able to get all the work done by diligently slogging it out much more than us or for having some real hard brains always seems to get the raise. 

· Ooooo...the Games they play – OK, you already know this one – the higher up the corporate ladder, the less it is bout skills and more it is bout politics.  The analyst's  very capable, diligent and hard working boss was still asked to leave.  But the smooth talking Will, doesn't seem to work a lot but has a way with everyone, confides how he survives 34 years in the company – by minding his own business and not taking sides to any argument.  Moral of the story – even if you don’t play politics, it still plays you.  So FYI, CYA (for the uninitiated, 'Cover Your Ass') :P

· Some skills saves lives– It’s still all about team work with each player expected to play their role seamlessly.  In the movie, the team leader has the enviable skill of being able to successfully motivate his team to sell worthless assets at the highest possible price to unsuspecting buyers, with the team fully aware that they are ruining their careers in the process but the team leader still gets them to do it voluntarily!  The strategy guy crafts a strategy within an hour at 4AM in the morning!   These are intangible skills that are not taught in colleges – and unsurprisingly, these two stay even after the downsizing.   On the other hand, many people who were merely “good at their jobs” were shown the door. 

· Money! Money! Money! - At the top, it’s not bout anything else- it’s all about money; no sugar coating, no morality, no loose ends.  The firm in the film has a single minded focus to avoid losing money and does not hesitate to put others (it's own customers included) out of business so that it may survive – they decide to sell worthless assets to their unwitting trusting customers knowing fully well that it would kill the customers and the market for years – but it’s just business, nothing personal.  And after the analysts does a great performance of selling it all, they’re mercilessly axed immediately so that the firm still floats

Some more interesting career pointers picked up from the movie – Talk to the top in simple words ,  look like a million bucks,  your professional pedigree is your resume (the analyst being a rocket engineer earlier only adds to his credibility).  Go see the movie; it’s really very cool! 

And as for office politics, well the biggest weapon against it is knowing that it exists.  And the more you play and get played, the better you get at it.  Veterans say that Office Politics is all about power and competition and someone has to lose for another to win and how you play ur cards could shift the equation to ur favor.

A good exercise to do is to re-map your office landscape not based on designations but by pockets of power - this is a very revealing exercise as it'll expose the real power brokers and the sources of politics in your office.  I did this for my earlier gov organization and I was super shocked to find the most powerful player was a janitor who wielded so much influence on the super boss. A few right questions later revealed that the janitor knew of certain damaging titbits of the superboss' personal life and thus had a very strong say in the company's promotions, pays etc.

The second thing to do is to understand the informal network in the office to find the groups and cliques formed on the basis of friendships, manipulations, respect etc.

Thirdly, start building alliances across groups; a simple staffing decision can tilt the balance of power from one group to another, so it helps to have allies across groups. An assertive personality can reduce being played upon.

But play you simply must.  If you think you can survive office politics, well, think again….. Readers can share their office politics stories in comments below and we can really have a juicy time discussing that, what say? :P

For more ground breaking career talk, click here.


  1. And there I go thinking that this must be a review of 'Inkaar'.

    You know each time I see an update on your blog, I smile. Cos I know for sure that the read is worth it.

    Can agree with everything you say, the rest I shall comment once I see 'Margin Call'. Sounds like my kinda movie :D. Yeah, I'm not even a 10% girl like ;)

    1. Hahaha.. ya, with Inkaar on the same topic, I can understand the feeling..

      Somz, glad tht u think tht way.. most humbled Somz.. its the best thing i heard today...always happy to see u here Somz :)

  2. how familiar.
    at my previous office, the trend changed just before i left. the hardworking ones were the seniors while the new ones came with lots of demands and attitude.
    usually the new ones were picked based on their looks that please the bosses. the bosses have really bad taste though. i, of course, never had qualms about letting my direct boss know of that.
    'hmm yeah. she's tall but she's got a face of a certain unattractive animal to match her attitude'.
    my boss would just look at me and say nothing.
    i think he dared not.

    1. Wow that is bad Jaya.. I knew this insurance guy who hired only good lookin women fr his team.. n in '09 when the market went bad, his division really crumbled cos none of the women cos sell... he later fired each one of them but the three-four years really took its toll on his CV n today, think he's not doing too well fr himself..

      thnx fr sharing that story Jaya.. do drop by more often :)

  3. Replies
    1. Hey Guy in the Mirror, welcome to ma blog my friend.. glad u here n glad u gonna ctach the movie.. do lemme know if u liked it :)

      Do drop by more often my friend :)

    2. I did watch the movie and it's nice :D
      Thank You :)


      Nominated you for liebster blog award


  4. oo my my my...one helluva realistic-take that-in your face kind of a post \m/
    hmm..i have somehow always stayed away from office politics..
    good or bad i dont know..
    now that i am all set to leave this place and begin a new life..
    the on goings in my office behind my back is the least of my concern :D

    but will surely watch the moive \m/


    1. Good fr u Meoww.. I'm real curious bout the new developments in ur life... waiting fr ur new post :)

      My best wishes n prayers fr all ur endeavors, Meoww! :)

  5. Oh yes, more than work or skill upgradation, it is office politics that one must know its way around. And, the movie sure sounds interesting. It is on my watch list now.

    1. Oh, u said it Rachna.. glad to see u here Rachna.. hope u enjoy the movie as much as I did :)

  6. You should watch this movie called the exam.. or was it just exam.. bloody fantastic!!

    1. Saro, just got it... trying to get the subtitles... looks pretty interesting.. hopefully shud catch it over the weekend

      Thnx fr the recommendation Saro n great to see u here :)

  7. Awesome realistic post
    Corporate ladder and that bird pic is the one I loved most. I already saw and kept on my offc blog long back ONLY coz my PM reads my blog :P
    anyway loved the post all in all
    Quite real situations

    1. Hey Afshan, glad to see u here... glad u liked it.

      Hahaha... I wonder if my manager is reading my posts :)

      Thnx a lot fr ur kind words Afshan :)

  8. That, in short, was why I decided not to work beyond 40 - having to play ofc politics dirties me and I'd rather be happy with less than keep eating shit in order to shovel in the moolah :)

    1. My friend Suresh, u're getting published! No wonder u can afford to quit at 40! :D

      Welcome to my blog Suresh.. glad to catch u here after the meet. U said it yaar.. wish we cud follow ur footpath.. congrats on 'Uff Ye Emotions' Suresh... kudos my friend! :)

  9. Golden Mantras!
    'Office Space' is probably the best movie ever made on the subject of office and its politics. A must watch movie if there ever was one!

    1. Ooooh, I loved the movie even though it took me a second viewing to really appreciate it.. think I'll catch it again one of these days :)

      Welcome to my blog Rickie! Glad to catch u here.. do drop by more often :)

  10. Golden Mantras!
    'Office Space' is probably the best movie ever made on the subject of office and its politics. A must watch movie if there ever was one!

  11. *Mental note: Go through this post again before you start working. :P

    I started reading and thought it was on the lines on Inkaar. Office politics just got spicier.
    Hafta watch that movie now! :D

    1. Hahaha.. glad u liked it Diksha..

      Ya I guess Inkaar did hv shades of Office Politics though me never got to see the movie.. already lookin frwrd to catching up with 'Exam' n 'Office Space' due to this post :)

      Welcome to my blog Diksha...nice to see u here.. do drop by more often Diksha :)

  12. Couldn't agree more Raj! And some of the points are so perfect (including the appraisal one, considering most of us are nearing the new hike cycle).. As far as the movie goes, that's one on my wish list now! :)

    PS: Have always admired the pic.. for the creativity and downright truth! :D

    1. Hey thanks macha! Oh ya, tell me bout it :)

      n btw, the pic aint original.. picked it up frm google :D

      Nice to see u man :)

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hey Reshma, thanks again :)

      Happy to see u here yaar.. wish I was a lil bit more prompt in my replies... do drop by more often :)