Office Ladder Politics: Hierarchy Is Here To Stay

office hierarchy

You thought you were a likable person, you have everyone in the office in fits of giggles, you regularly do the coffee runs, you bake Ottolenghi recipes to your boss and colleagues; you are firmly settled member of the team.

You return from holiday to discover the girl who sits next to you has been promoted; she kept a low profile from day one, dined alone on her lunch hour, attended work drinks on rare occasions, she was never comfortable or complacent.

Paula Reed’s recent appointment as Fashion Director at Harvey Nichols from Stylist Director at Bazaar embodies the importance of office ladder Paula Reed politics. Once you rise to the top, external power and success is more obtainable.

Like it or not, hierarchy is here to stay. Even if your boss wears jeans and eats lunch with the cleaner, they are practising something different to the rest of us, they are double bluffing, most often without even realising.

Despite an increase in companies trying to eradicate hierarchy in the office, it is a proven fact that defined leaders and followers will increase production; but a chief executive is not your average playground leader.

Once, I was told by a colleague to “filter” my personality, if it was a friend’s comment things would have ended differently. But instead I sucked up the observation and made use of it.

You need to speculate everything, suss the office structure, know how the company works and who you need to say the right things too. Never assume your likeability will get you far.

Here’s a few tips to help you see the wood through the trees;

1. Self-reflection; In her “Quiet guide to getting ahead” Nancy Ancowitz says that introverts suffer from being unable to pitch their own promotion, allowing less talented colleagues to tread on their soil. She says the best way to promotion is finding the medium between extrovert and introvert. Reflect on your contribution to office atmosphere.

2. Don’t brag; Don’t talk too much about how amazing you are, this is an unlikeable trait to have and will set you back ten steps.

3. Target audience; Understand who you need to impress, this will increase your luck of being in the right place at the right time.

4. Observe everything; Understand your position in the company and understand everyone else’s.

5. Reflect on yourself; Keep a log of ways to improve your work progress and behaviour.

6. Prepare; Turn up to work prepared to fill the shoes of the person above you. You never know what could change in a day.

7. Attitude; Put pride and passion into everything that you do. If you have a sense of pride in your work, it will soon become apparent to the important people.

8. Give 110%; If everyone else is going an extra mile, you need to go an extra ten. Be a ‘Go Getter’.

9. Shadow; In order to the be the best you need to learn from the best, so ask the person above you questions. Act intrigued and conscientious.

10. Company first; Think and act for the benefit of the company not for yourself.

There is no short cut to an office promotion- most company executives will have a story of luck to tell you, but a hard day’s work never killed them.

Stephanie Parsons

Stephanie is a 23-year old professional writer, living and working in London. She recently finished her MA in Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University with a broad variety of professional experience having worked at Sky, BBC, Channel 4 and The Sunday Times Style Magazine. Stephanie is working as YCB's career writer and is passionated about helping career focussed, talented women achieving their potential.