Dear Orna: I am applying for a job at my firm but I just found out that my co-worker is trying to get the same job by using his connections to get inside information. I strongly believe that I am the most qualified candidate for this position but I refuse to cheat to get the job. How can I play fair and still win?
Signed: WHAT'S FAIR IN JOB AND WAR?
Dear WHAT'S FAIR IN JOB AND WAR: I feel your pain, but whether fair or not, office politics is an element of business that is not going away. But if you are truly better qualified for the job, then you already have the advantage. My simple suggestion is this: Casually approach the hiring manager to discuss the open position. Point our your unique skills and capabilities that will be the key to helping him become even more successful. Let him know you are committed to the success of his team and his goals.
This is fair office politics. You are providing accurate information that does not sabotage the careers of others. As long as you are open and honest, and are highlighting your own strengths, you can feel good about the interaction.
What About Jealousy and Resentment?
Will those who do not get the job be jealous and resentful? Possibly. But let's start with the good news. A new promotion usually bring new friends. New colleagues who want to be part of your inner-circle and are actually glad you go the job you deserve. Build upon those relationships and keep these friends close.
Now as they say . . . keep your enemies even closer! Accept the reality that some of your work relationships will be lost. Let them move on. Being extra nice won't help you regain those close relationships but they might come around when they see you being successful and it finally dawns on them that they may benefit from being on your good side. Be friendly, keep tabs, and move on!
What If You Don't Get the Job?
Ouch! It hurts, but don't become a "hater!" There are countless reasons that celebrating another's success will bring positive energy into your world. The most important: Good Karma! You reap what you sow. Congratulating the new manager will create a win for you and your future within the organization.
Play the game well and you will win in the end!