Workplace Alliances

Sep 19th, 2010 | By | Category: A game, abundance, application, aptitude, Career advice, career challenges, career choices, challenges, competing, competitive challenges, confidence, mentor, self confidence, skills, success

Forging alliances at work may be the most beneficial strategic career move a person can make.  Alliances are more than casual friendships, and are formed to advance common goals or interests.  These bonds of common purpose can provide a shield against adversity, and a conduit for opportunity.  Making and keeping alliances can improve and maintain your competitive advantage.

An alliance is an agreement or friendship between two or more parties, made in order to advance common goals and to secure common interests.  (alliance).  Alliances can be formed on all social levels.  Countries form alliances among themselves to provide for a common defense, or form non-aggression alliances by which they agree not attack each other.  Alliances are also formed in the business world and on individual levels.  Some key points of alliances that make them work are integrity and trust. Keeping ones part of the bargain is always essential to making an alliance work.  Often the parties of an alliance break the alliance to the detriment of one or both parties.  Unfortunately, there is no way to know for certain if the parties will keep the alliance.  Over the course of time it may in one or both parties interest to break the alliance.   How this is accomplished is important to maintaining your professional and personal reputation.

There are several TV shows where making, breaking, and betraying alliances are part of the game. Survivor and Big Brother are two shows where contestants enter into alliances with other players as part of their strategy not to be voted off of the show.  Although there are physical and mental challenges that enable contestants to win immunity from being voted off the show, the main strategy is social interactions and making alliances.  After watching a few episodes, the group dynamics of the contestants became very similar to that of a workplace environment.  There was individual and group competitions, and the social interaction to escape being voted off the show by the other contestants.  In the workplace, fortunately co-workers cannot vote you out of the office, but having their co-operation and support is an important part of building a career.  In the office, much like these TV shows, those best at making and keeping good alliances seem to fare the best.  Gaming the system is part of most contestants’ strategies, but more often than not those who break alliances usually do not succeed in winning the game.  Even though it is a game where deceit and manipulation is expected, there is a high level of resentment and disrespect for those who are considered to be untrustworthy.   The same is true in the workplace.

Making alliances in the workplace should be part of a carefully thought out career strategy.  In order for an alliance to be of value it must be of mutual benefit to all parties.  For example, there is no benefit in forming an alliance with those who will not keep their part of the bargain. Likewise, it is not beneficial to enter into a lopsided alliance where both parties do not have the same interests.  You cannot expect your competitors to support you over their own interests. Some instances where alliances make good strategic sense are; passing along and exchanging office information, helping each other with work assignments, and supporting each other in meetings.  Over the years, I formed many alliances with co-workers. Most were beneficial, and worked to everyone’s advantage. There were a few where I was played for sucker and left holding the bag. In those cases I chalked it up to experience, and learned some of the tell tale signs of alliances to steer clear of.

The PracticaL Mentor

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