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Building Allies in the Office: Dos and Don’ts

It’s never too early to start jockeying for prime position for a promotion; assuming that you can dig yourself out of the mountain of snow we’ve had in the city the last few weeks and can actually make it to the office. Here are a few dos and don’ts for gaining new allies in the office who can put your promotional candidacy over the top.


Building Allies in the Office (Photo: iStockphoto)


Do: Under-promise and over-deliver
Manage expectations on all of your projects to ensure that you deliver early or on time. Resist the temptation to over-sell yourself and your abilities. Perception is key to demonstrating that you have exceeded expectations.

Don’t: Give yourself all the work
Leverage all of your available resources, human and automated. If you can delegate work to a junior member of your team more than willing to help – give him or her some additional responsibilities. The tangential benefit is that you will be facilitating someone else’s growth and development. You can serve as quality control; the more help you get, the more you can accomplish.

Do: Get to your boss, his boss and his boss’ boss
Find out what makes these people tick. People by their nature like to talk about themselves. There is nothing wrong with asking a senior leader where she started and how she achieved her current position. Undoubtedly, the executive will share some nuggets of wisdom that you will likely not get from anywhere else. Also, reaching out to a senior leader to establish a rapport demonstrates your fearlessness, initiative, and seriousness about moving up the ladder. If they can do it, why can’t you?

Don’t: Talk bad about anyone in your company
Stay above any office gossip and play intelligent politics. All of the people don’t have to like you, but they can either 1) respect you (and your contribution) or 2) not have anything negative to say about you. You want everyone in the office to fall into one of these camps when it comes to perception about you as a professional. Think of it as having everyone who can’t say anything bad about you as being a “default ally.”

Allies are key to getting strong recommendation and approval for a promotion. Of course, all of this is moot if you are not performing well, so continuing to give 100% effort and doing great work is critical for success. The rest will follow.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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