Posted: Monday 22 February 2010
When I first started working at a big company as an administrative assistant, I actually was looking forward to the politics. I had watched so many movies and read so many profiles about ambitious young assistants who knew where to place their loyalties and how to make connections to skyrocket them to the top that I could not wait for my first personal chance at making those life-changing connections myself.
In our division, I had plenty of opportunities to politic. In fact, when I arrived, it soon became evident that my boss and her counterpart were going to be going head-to-head in short order for a big promotion. It was pretty well understood that whoever got it was going to make the other's life miserable, so we were all pretty invested in making sure that our "side" had everything going for them possible. Unfortunately, this included some fairly serious informational sabotage in some cases as both sides tried to make sure that the other missed meetings, deadlines and lost materials.
As you can probably imagine, this all ended quite badly. There was a pretty serious fiasco when all of the maneuvering finally came to light thanks to a lot of missing links and wasted meetings. Ultimately, both parties kept their jobs and neither got a promotion. And - I guess this shouldn't have surprised any of us - their teams pretty much got sacked.
And honestly, we deserved it. Administrative assistants' entire job is to make things run smoothly, and when you deliberately fail to do that, you have basically elected not to do your job. I should have done my best to steer clear rather than thinking my so-called "loyalty" would be rewarded later. I would have gotten a lot farther just doing my job.
In the end, things could have been a lot worse. I was able to land a new job within a few months, but money was definitely tight in the interim. Several of the people I worked with who were more integral to the entire process never did find new employment because they could not get a good reference from the company. I, at least, was new enough that they did not hold me too responsible for the chaos. I squeaked by on that one, but I can guarantee you I will keep my nose to my desk next time any office politics come up in my office. The rewards - if there are any - are not worth the irresponsible behavior and the potential cost of my job!