Office politics is something they don’t teach you at school. But maybe they should. Here is the 1st part of a look into the political headaches and speed bumps that distract you from what drew you to creativity in the first place—the work.
- The Creative Industry is simple but not easy
- a. At its root, it’s nothing more than problem/solution with a twist
- b. Why? Human beings!
- Gaming the game has become the game
- a. Office politics are more rampant than ever
- b. One way or another, you have to deal with them
- Expecting the World to Treat You Fairly Because You’re a Good Person is a Little Like Expecting the Bull Not to Attack You Because You’re a Vegetarian. — Dennis Wholey
- a. Sorry, you can’t be Switzerland in this conflict
- b. That doesn’t mean you have to be a treacherous jerk, either
- Never Wrestle a Pig in the Mud, the Pig Likes It – GBS
- a. You can’t be something that you’re not
- b. You can’t beat politicians at their own game
- People Aren’t Against You; They Are for Themselves
- a. Most people are scared and just hoping to survive
- b. Blindness is more at play than meanness
- There’s a Special Place in Hell for the Devil’s Advocate
- a. Human speed bumps slow us all down
- b. Block them before they block you
- Don’t Let the Office Historian Make You a Prisoner of the Past
- Stay Out of the Crosshairs of Poachers
- a. They create tricky situations
- b. Cut them off at the pass or they’ll haunt you and abuse others
- Listen to the second part of our exploration of office politics:
- More Office Politics, Because There’s Always More…Available now…
- NavigatingTheFustercluck.com, @NavigatingTheFustercluck
Welcome to the inaugural episode of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity and marketing.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas. And whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, at some point or another, you have probably you have probably found yourself saying these words:
They never taught us that at school.
Over my many years of working in the world of creativity, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say:
They never taught us that at school.
So, here are some overlooked insights for creative types like you. Some may surprise you. Some may inspire you. And hopefully, many will be of use to you.
Taken together, these snackable nuggets should shave years off your learning curve. Helping you step around the landmines, so you can focus on the work. The thing that drew you to creativity in the first place.
…It’s simple but not easy. That’s the paradox of the creative world. At its core, it’s nothing more than problem/solution with a twist. Very simple stuff, right? So, if it’s so simple, why isn’t it equally as easy? In a nutshell: human beings. Even with our bulging frontal lobes and opposable thumbs, we find a way to muck things up. Creating one big fustercluck.
Sadly, there’s no solvent or spray to untangle this hairball of human folly. But what is offered here is some clear, solid advice written in plain, simple peoplespeak by me- Wegs, the Anti-Guru, to help you navigate the fustercluck that drives many creatives crazy, if it doesn’t drive you out of the business first.
That said, welcome to the fustercluck!
Which brings us to our 1st topic…
Gaming the Game Has Become the Game
Remember your first course on office politics? Of course not. No one offers one. Yet, office politics go a long way in determining your career path. Your assignments. Credits. Raises. Promotions. Satisfaction. And quite possibly, your sanity. So, let’s start off with office politics. Just keep in mind that this section is not designed to turn you into some corporate Machiavelli. Instead, you’ll gain some insight on what to look out for, who to look out for and how to lower your odds of taking a dagger in the back.
Ouch! That doesn’t seem fair now, does it? Well…
Expecting the World to Treat You Fairly Because You’re a Good Person is a Little Like Expecting the Bull Not to Attack You Because You’re a Vegetarian.
— Dennis Wholey
Nope, life is not always fair. Just because something should be doesn’t mean that it will be. The good guys don’t always win. The bad guys don’t always get caught. And when they do, they all too often get off easy. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can do something about office politics. There’s no use in clinging to your anger waiting for leadership to actually lead and make things right. Do that, and you may well find yourself standing there with your arms folded until finally, you’re lying horizontal on the wrong side of the grass.
Never Wrestle a Pig in the Mud, the Pig Likes It. — George Bernard Shaw
It seems like you have to play politics to get ahead, so I guess I’ll have to play them, too. Ever said this out of frustration? It’s tempting, but don’t do it. Don’t go to the dark side. Roll around in the dirt, and you’re bound to feel dirty. And honestly, the mud pit is the natural habitat of the office politician. It’s awfully hard to beat someone on their home turf. That’s not to say that you should raise the white flag, just don’t lower your standards. Lifting them back up is harder than you think.
Here’s something else that took me a long time to realize, and I still need to remind myself of it often…
People Aren’t Against You; They Are for Themselves
In healthy cultures, people are committed to a purpose. A higher cause. Something greater than themselves. In weak cultures, people are only out for themselves. Attaching to others who will protect and reward them, while rationalizing away the unpleasant side effects of office politics. That doesn’t get them off the hook for caving in to such asshattery, but it’s important to remember that people’s natural bias toward themselves can make them willfully blind. The thing is to understand their blind spots. And try not to take it personal. It will keep you off blood pressure meds.
In creativity, you meet all sorts of people. That’s part of the fun. Yet, there’s one kind of character I dread every time I see an idea leave their brain and head toward their lips, and I think that we can all agree upon this…
There’s a Special Place in Hell for the Devil’s Advocate
Why offer ideas of your own, when all you have to do is derail everyone else’s? Meet the Devil’s Advocate. He’s more interested in attention than answers. Instead of honest questions, he brings Molotov Cocktails designed to build up nothing but himself. Yes, listen to him. Thoroughly. Then counterchallenge him to offer a better solution. And if that doesn’t work, the next time he proposes Let me play Devil’s Advocate… Say this: Let’s not. Let’s stay positive for now and poke holes later. Blunt? Yep. Oh well, sometimes you have to sacrifice some short-term politeness to create lasting positivity.
Another form of human speed bump is someone I call the Office Historian. And let me tell you now…
Don’t Let the Office Historian Make You a Prisoner of the Past
We tried something like that before and it didn’t work.
I had that idea 5 years ago but the CEO killed it.
I think someone else did that before.
Legal has never liked that.
This is what the Office Historian sounds like. Old and tired.
Now experience can be quite an asset, but sometimes fear, burnout or a need to remain relevant makes people look backwards more than forward.
Truth is times change. You can’t dip your toe in the same river twice. Ask your team to focus on the best solution for today rather than yesterday’s failings.
Let’s Take a Short Breather…
…to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. Recorded at Deaf Mule Studios. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to those who believe gaming the game is the game…
Stay Out of the Crosshairs of Poachers
The best way to receive credit is to give credit. Make sure you point out the contributions of others and they’ll do the same for you. Now if somebody does pull a fast one, see if you have your idea stored in your computer. Quietly point out the situation to the other person involved. If it’s more than an honest mistake that they’re willing to correct, talk to your boss. We’re in the ideas business. That’s what we get judged on. Let someone get away with theft, and they’ll go on to victimize someone else. Or become your boss.
Well, that about wraps up our first episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.
Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.