Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 23rd 2015 Contents Make office politics
One of the reasons office politics makes
so many of us uneasy is that complex sit-
uations are difficult to read and impossible
When personalities and motivations inter-
twine, anything can happen. One tactic for
handling office politics is to make its chal-
lenges less personal. If you begin to look at
politics like a game ---you win some, you
lose some---you ll become more resilient
and have smarter responses when something
takes you by surprise.
If a situation starts to feel too personal,
try to avoid looking your opponent in the
eye. In many business situations eye contact
is crucial, but in this case, averting your
gaze can help you remain calm and avoid
the fight-or-flight impulse that rises when
you feel attacked. Keeping an even keel
enables you to react more thoughtfully, offer
productive suggestions and regain control
of the situation.
(Adapted from "4 Strategies for Women
Navigating Office Politics" by Kathryn Heath.)
Set limits with a talkative
colleague or client
Let s face it: Some people don t know
when to stop talking. But how do you escape
when you re dealing with a long-winded
senior executive or important customer?
First, diagnose the problem. Does your boss
tend to deliver speeches in meetings when
there s no agenda? Does your biggest client
complain for hours when you re out for
Change the circumstances, then set limits.
You might say, "I know your time is valuable.
Let s keep this to five minutes." Or perhaps:
"I d like to talk with you about the Jones
account. I ve prepared a three-bullet-point
agenda. Could we discuss each item for five
On a conference call with a client, you
might start with: "I ve got a hard stop at noon. Is
there anything you d like to tackle right away?" And
embrace brevity in your meetings by using tighter
agendas and shortening PowerPoint presentations.
(Adapted from "Advice for Dealing With a Long-
Winded Leader" by Joe McCormack)
A better way to welcome
new team members
When you bring on new team members, it s impor-
tant to carefully and deliberately integrate them into
the group. Otherwise, newcomers can feel isolated
or become marginalised. Make everyone feel more
• Preparing your group for new arrivals. Discuss
in advance why it s valuable to include people with
different perspectives and skills. Make sure that the
new members roles are clear to everyone.
• Matching newcomers with seasoned mentors.
When new hires have an experienced person to turn
to, it helps them acclimate to the team more quickly
and better understand the workflow.
• Making meaningful introductions. Existing team
members may already be familiar with one another s
skills, interests and styles, but making purposeful
introductions and encouraging the sharing of that
sort of information with new members can help
(Adapted from "Innovative Teams" from the 20-
Minute Manager series.)
Rethink your employees'
Most managers make a mistake when it comes to
cross-cultural training: They focus only on explaining
what the cultural differences are. Understanding these
differences is important, but you can t stop there.
Once people learn how behaviors and norms differ
across cultures, the real challenge becomes learning
to adapt and adjust their own behavior to work with
So help your employees take the next step in their
cross-cultural training. Assess what skills they need
to develop to better work across cultures, and then
integrate training into their actual work. Cross-cultural
training doesn t happen with a manual, Web site or
You have to give employees opportunities to practice
and hone their skills in the actual contexts where
they ll need to use them. Bring people from different
backgrounds together for long-term projects, encour-
age mentorships and initiate group discussions for
people to voice what they re learning and what they re
(Adapted from "The Mistake Most Managers Make
With Cross-Cultural Training" by Andy Molinsky.)
Make job interviews less
stressful for candidates
People find job interviews stressful because of the
many unknowns. What will my interviewer be like?
What kinds of questions will he ask? What should
I wear? People don t perform as well when they re
stressed, so if you want to be able to assess potential
quickly, you should take pre-emptive steps to lower
their cortisol levels.
Tell the candidate in advance the topics you plan
on discussing so he can prepare. Say who---and how
many people---will be interviewing him, so he won t
be surprised. Be willing to meet at a time that s con-
venient for him. And explain your organisation s dress
code. You want to make the candidate comfortable
so that you can have a productive, professional con-
versation. Then you ll have more time to evaluate
whether he is the right person for the job; and to sell
the role and company.
(Adapted from "How to Conduct an Effective Job
Interview" by Rebecca Knight.)
@2015 The Economist Newspaper Ltd. Distrib-
uted by the New York Times Syndicate
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt APRIL 2015 • WEEK FOUR
TIPS & TALKING POINTS
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