March 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 45

what department they sit in. Figure
out who are the influencers, who is
respected, who are consistently the
mentors and champions of other
people, and who is always in conflict
with those around them.
‡ Build relationships. Now that you
have your " impact " map, start building relationships across multiple
networks to keep your finger on the
pulse of the organization.
‡ Make the most of your network.
While the purpose of building relationships is to practice " good office
politics, " in gaining information,
improving difficult relationships
and capitalizing on opportunities,
you can use them to stay clear of
negative politicking, too.
‡ Neutralize negative play. Your impact map should also identify those

people who use others for their own
purposes, and not necessarily for
the common good. But as the saying goes, " Keep your friends close
and your enemies closer. " You can't
just avoid them, but you can learn
how to avoid or counter the impact
of their negative politicking.
‡ Govern your own behavior. Be
careful that your own efforts to build
useful, positive relationships don't
get misinterpreted by others as the
" bad " kind of office politics. Don't
gossip, don't get sucked into arguments, avoid whining and complaining, and when voicing objections
or criticism, make sure you take an
organizational perspective, not a personal one.
The expectations I've just detailed,
while absolutely critical to your suc-

cess, are numerous and may feel a bit
daunting. Author and career coach
Billi Lee, who founded The Savvy Institute, brings it all together much more
succinctly:
" Get real. Grow up. Savvy is the acquired ability to operate successfully
in any environment. It is the organizational 'street smarts' that allow you to
deal with the world the way it is, rather
than the way it is supposed to be. Don't
whine about the political, economic or
social realities of your workplace situation. Deal with them. Savvy people are
flexible, adaptable, capable of reading
people and situations, and are able to
respond effectively - they are truly 'response-able.' "
Lauren Yost is NRPA's Vice President of
Operations (lyost@nrpa.org).

W W W. N R PA . O R G | M A R C H 2 0 1 4 |

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March 2014 - Parks & Recreation

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