How To Navigate Office Politics

We’ve had this question send in by… OK I don’t know how to read those Chinese symbols…

But thanks for the question!

Dealing with office politics is a great topic and I’ve fell out with many sales managers in the past. So I know how stressful it can be to have tension in the workplace.

Setting the scene

So our friend in the comments mentions that he’s a business development rep and he’s feeding sales leads to three account managers.

The account managers are being bossy and he’s concerned that he’s outshining them and so they’re getting pissy about it.

I’m going to suggest a three step process here.

#1 Emotional Intelligence

So first up, are you being emotionally intelligent about the situation that you’re in? So emotional intelligence has two sides to it –

The first side of emotional intelligence – Are you appreciative that in this current economic downturn, the leads that you are handing over might not be converting as well as what they used to do and so your account managers that you’re working with our not necessarily annoyed at you, that just stressed in general that the thought of losing their jobs.

The other side of it is yourself. You sure that you are not projecting and emotion like jealousy onto the account managers you work with which is skewing the relationship?

Have a mental check for both of these issues because they could be causing your account manager colleagues to be a pain in your ass.

#2 Be Assertive

Next, if you are sure that you’re balanced from an emotional intelligence perspective, the next step is for you to be assertive with the account managers you work with and tell them that in no uncertain terms, you will not except the on professional behavior they have been giving you.

The best way I know to describe assertiveness is with this quadrant diagram –

Here we can see that when you’re trying to retrain the behaviours of the individuals you’re working with you can do it one of four ways.

As long as your communication leaves you feeling “I’m OK” and your colleague feeling “I’m OK” then you’re being assertive.

So be assertive, know that you are right in bringing this up and that you are trying to do the best thing for the relationship so you’re in a position of, I’m okay and you’re okay, and tell your account managers how you feel about the situation.

#3 Take Their Place

Finally, I’m assuming that as you’re in a sales role you have been given a target number of meetings to arrange for your account managers. Are you hitting or surpassing that number?

Then don’t worry about the attitudes of the people that you’re working with. You have been given a job, you are crushing the numbers and so you are turning your cog in the system.

If you are truly outshining those idiots account managers that are giving you grief then why not go to your sales manager with your numbers in hand and say they want to be promoted to the account manager position?

The account manager position is likely to pay more, if you do have this gift of sales skill then you can leverage it more effectively in account manager position and you can begin to progress your career up the ladder with just one printout of the numbers that you’re generating. Don’t feel that because you are younger than your peers that this will hold you back. Sales is one of the only job sectors where the numbers overrule pretty much everything else.

So there we have it –

  • Make sure you’re right in your assumptions by leveraging your emotional intelligence.
  • Be assertive and tell your Managers what they are doing that annoying you.
  • If you really are crushing it, ask your boss to give you a go in a account manager position and then now you’re on the same level as them so there’s no tension to be had.

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