It's your first real job after graduation. You're ready to hit the ground running--not so much with experience--but with tons of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, nothing dampens that enthusiasm like workplace politics.
The world of work is driven by relationships, not necessarily by the people boxed into organization charts. This will be evident in the first few meetings you attend. In some companies, it's fairly obvious that cliques of people are trying to outdo each other, make each other look bad or even get people fired. In other cases, it's more subtle.
As a new employee, other employees will find you wonderfully neutral and will try to win you over to their side. The key here is to listen and learn without openly committing yourself to any one side. While you can't just ignore what's going on around you, try to stay in the loop. Avoid getting drawn into the various agendas certain groups may want you to participate in. Don't fall victim to gossip and rumors. Never instigate or spread rumors or gossip. It's important to listen to all sides and viewpoints and make up your own mind about this group or that.
In general, it's best to stay somewhat neutral for the first three to six months. Go to lunch with different factions. You're allowed to do this when you're new--without looking like you've sided with one or the other. Learn who the power players are and what they're up to. Absorb.
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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.
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