It’s an interpersonal jungle out there, and how well you navigate your office politics can have a major impact on your career. How adept are you at playing the game? Take this quiz to find out.
1. Based on past experience, you propose a procedure change that will improve the quality of your company’s products—and save money to boot. When your idea gets a lukewarm reception, you:
a. Immediately retract your suggestion and try to pass it off as an off-the-cuff brainstorming idea rather than something you were really invested in.
b. Offer to do a risk analysis that impartially weighs the pros and cons of your idea plus others that might be on the table. If your proposal still doesn’t fly, you shelve it for now but watch for opportunities (new boss, new project) to pitch it again later.
c. Implement it anyway. Clearly your team can’t get out of its own way. They’ll thank you later.
2. At the company picnic, you overhear your boss confiding in someone about how she has no control over her troublemaking teenage son. You:
a. Find any conversational opportunity from now until the end of time to tell her that she seems like someone who must be a really great mother!
b. Keep the information to yourself. Who doesn’t have family problems?
c. Rush over to your buddies and have a laugh about it. Anybody see a pattern here? She can’t control any of her co-workers, either!
3. Sales are down sharply this quarter, and employee morale is pretty low. When talking about the issue with friends either inside or outside of work, you:
a. Put the best possible spin on things. The company is simply in a period of transition that will leave it poised for greater success in future. (And when that day comes, they’ll remember your loyalty.)
b. Take a realistic but positive view. The company’s struggles aren’t trivial, but as long as you’ve decided to stay, you owe it to yourself and your colleagues to make the best of this rough patch.
c. Suggest that you go out for tequila shots first. You have no desire to talk about this fiasco sober.
4. Which of the following describes your MO after normal working hours?
a. Send as many messages time-stamped late in the evening or on the weekends as possible, especially to higher-ups, and volunteer for everything.
b. Periodically check e-mail for anything urgent and volunteer to put in some overtime as needed, but you largely respect the importance of work/life boundaries.
c. Off the clock. Whose business is it but yours when you decide to work? You’re a grown-up—perfectly capable of deciding when extra effort is needed and when it isn’t.
5. A co-worker is doing a lousy job, and lack of direction from your mutual boss is partly to blame. How do you handle the situation?
a. Sympathize profusely with your boss anytime he criticizes your co-worker, and offer to pick up the slack wherever you can.
b. Find subtle ways to shed light on the problem to your boss, choosing your words diplomatically to avoid blaming him (or your co-worker) directly.
c. Tell your boss flat out that your colleague can’t perform because management hasn’t given her the right tools to do her job. You have every right to interfere when you’re the one who will get dumped with the extra work she can’t handle.
6. Your HR department issues a new business-casual dress code. You:
a. Show up in a suit every day anyway. Why not dress for success?
b. Quickly scan the policy to ensure you’re not making some egregious fashion error you didn’t know about, then file it. Common sense has always dictated business casual in your office anyway.
c. Continue to wear whatever you want, including items from the taboo list like sneakers or your sexy ripped jeans. Come on, this place is a start-up! We’re not on Wall Street here.
7. The director of marketing proposes an advertising campaign you feel certain will be a flop. You:
a. Praise the director enthusiastically to her face, but quietly try to distance yourself from the project to cover your butt. Who are you criticize? Maybe the campaign will surprise you and be great.
b. Respectfully raise “hypothetical” risks, but pitch in 100% to make the campaign a success once you realize it is going to move ahead anyway.
c. Bash the director and this whole stupid idea to anyone who will listen. You have a right to complain—you and the rest of the department will look bad too when this whole thing goes south.
8. You asked for the afternoon off to comfort a friend whose boyfriend just dumped her. On your way out the door, a senior exec stops you and asks if you can help him create a presentation by tomorrow. You:
a. Drop everything to help the exec, of course. If anybody’s CEO asked them to jump, they’d say “How high?” right? If you get a second you’ll drop your friend a quick e-mail to apologize.
b. Explain that you have an important personal commitment, but help the exec identify an alternate solution before you leave. With a few phone calls you may be able to find the perfect vendor to fill the gap.
c. Tell the exec you’re sorry, you’ve got the afternoon off, and then head out. Somebody’s got to teach this guy to plan ahead.
Mostly A’s: Brownnose Betty
Clearly you’re super -dedicated to your job, and your current management team may love your style. But there’s a danger that your loyalty is being perceived as sucking up—if not by your boss then at least by your peers. You may impress more if you quietly let your hard work speak for itself.
Mostly B’s: Perfect Politico
You’re a master of subtle negotiation, sure to win friends and influence people. Next stop on your career ride: CEO!
Mostly C’s: Blatant and Ballsy
You’re just as talented at your job as the next gal, and your willingness to call things like you see them shows as admirable strength of character that could take you far. But like it or not, office politics is a real factor in career success, and striving to look a bit more like a team player could really pay off down the road.