A third (33%) of UK workers cite office politics as a major contributing factor to feelings of unhappiness in the workplace, according to new research from leading recruiter Adecco.”
This is an alarming statistic. Any professional jumping into a new company, they are faced with a myriad of challenges. Interestingly enough, majority of these challenges won’t be to do with the work itself, but rather the growing pains of adjusting to a new political and organisational environment.

More specifically, the unwritten rules that make up the culture and fabric of the company.

Alex Fleming, Managing Director at Adecco, said:

A good office dynamic is crucial for happy and productive workplaces. The prevalence of office politics as a cause of such severe stress is an indication that many organisations are struggling to manage their office culture.”

In this edition of the CABL newsletter, we look at some key unwritten rules that are prevalent in all businesses. If you are aware of these ‘hidden’ rules, the better prepared you are to navigate through them and ultimately thrive through them.

Business Professionals who get promoted aren’t the most qualified
This works back to the famous PIE model that both Alessandro de Luca (CIO Merck) and I had talked about in our LinkedIn Live 5 Lessons on How to Thrive in Corporate Business (view it here). Climbing the corporate isn’t all about performance, but image exposure and luck! The reality is that the people who have developed their political and social capital along with great performance will always come out on top. They have mastered how to work the system, and they have aligned themselves with people in the organization who have power and influence.
You have to make an effort to mix business with pleasure
I made a key mention of informal events in last month’s newsletter and video (view it here). Studies show that employees who socialize in AND out of the office are less likely to leave (as well as climb the corporate ladder faster!)! Try to avoid skipping the company’s after-work drinks or aperitivo. They’re priceless networking events. When else will you get make time and see your boss or team when they are in a more relaxed setting and mood?
Keep your superiors in the loop.

Communication is key for transparency and if your colleagues see you as someone honest, trustworthy and straightforward, they will value you all the more. Telling your boss everything that’s going on at work – whether it’s good or bad. If you can position yourself as someone that has their communication lines open, that can deliver constructive criticism where it’s needed, your worth will shoot up in the eyes of your colleagues and bosses.
The unwritten rules are constantly changing.

Another challenge to the unwritten rules of office politics is that the rules are always changing! Just when you’ve figured out what rules are sacred to your boss, they change the rules and what was acceptable yesterday will not help you move forward tomorrow. When change seeps through, often by leadership; the status-quo shifts. It’s a full-time job being alert and assessing the everchanging priorities key decision-makers make. Make yourself be comfortable with the ever-changing landscape.

Bonus tip: Become familiar with Gerald Ferris’ 4 Pillars of ‘Political Skill’: Social Astuteness, Interpersonal Influence, Networking ability & Apparent Sincerity.
Ferris, G. R. et al. (2005). Development and validation of the political skill inventory. Journal of Management 31:126–152.