• Having positive alliances helps you get ahead and be happier
  • Build relationships by giving and supporting first to establish trust
  • Look to all levels in your company to build alliances
The clock is ticking and you’re about to miss the damn deadline.

You’re in desperate need of someone to help you out but your relationships with your coworkers are non-existent. You’re pretty much on your own.

If you had allies to call on, you could get through rough days like this and deal with all of this shit with a lot less stress.

Trouble is, you’re an introvert at heart. You find it hard to make friends. You’re more comfortable blending in on the sidelines than being on center stage.

Deep down, you know that this is probably holding you back in your career. It seems like only the out-going extroverts move up and you get passed up for promotions.

It’s bullshit.

Since you don’t have any real allies at work, life is harder than it needs to be. You find it hard to get any support or gain favors to help you out, and trying to win approval on key projects is like banging your fucking head against the wall.

You’re doing the best that you can.

Getting what you need from unresponsive coworkers, pulling at the latest data, cross-checking the numbers, formatting the deck, gaining executive approvals, running things by finance and legal, you’re doing it all.

And, it’s an uphill battle all the way.

You know that it doesn’t have to be this difficult.

If you had an “in” or strong bonds with key people in the organization, you’d be able to ask for their help and support, get shit approved fast and maybe even get a few favors and things would flow so much easier.

And, it’s true. Having internal alliances at work can not only make your job more fulfilling and awesomer, but also make your work life happier and more productive.

You want this but you don’t know how even to get started. Since building positive relationships doesn’t come naturally to you, this is gonna take you out of your comfort zone.

But, it’s going to be totally worth it and plus, it’s a seriously good career move.

Alliances Are All About Mutual Support

Strong relationships at work can make you happier, more productive, and ultimately, more successful.

They’re mutually beneficial. You both get something out of it. You give each other support and value. This is a two-way street.

This is not about cut-throat “alliances” you see on Survivor-type reality TV shows, with competitors making and breaking partnerships to increase their chances of winning. That’s just a ruthless zero-sum game.

Positive alliances at work are all about genuine support. The kind of support that helps everyone do more with less stress.

Listen to your allies and help them out when you can. It’s not only about what you can get from the relationship, but also what you can give in return is also incredibly important.

What you put into each relationship is what you’ll get out.

It’s like gardening. The more time and effort you put into it, the more it’ll return back to you. It just requires your work, time and commitment.

And for those that put the effort in, they tend to get more done and move up the career ladder quicker. 

Why You Need Allies At Work

Forming workplace alliances has a ton of positive effects.

Getting ahead at work isn't just about busting your ass or being a fantastic team player. Those things are super important but they're not always enough on their own.

What most people won't tell you about climbing the corporate ladder is that positioning yourself as a strong ally to key players is a smart move for success.

From a practical standpoint, it’s invaluable. You can swap ideas, get help solving problems, gain a sounding board and even pull some last-minute favors when you’re under the gun.

This study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology sums it up. Collaborating with other people on projects makes you more productive and helps you get in the zone more often. The more allies you have, the more productive and successful you're likely to be.

Your ideas and feedback are a lot more likely to get support when you’ve got allies in the right places, too. You won't get shot down in meetings or be too afraid to voice your opinions. With key allies in your corner, your thoughts and contributions will get their moment instead of being blocked out.
Your reputation and credibility get a boost too, especially when your allies have power and clout. They can be your best advocate, sing your praises, and strengthen your profile for workplace success.

And all of this is also true in reverse.

You can help other people when they need it and help them shine too. You’ll get all of the fuzzy feelings of performing a random act of kindness. It’s one of the best ways to manage work stress.

There are emotional benefits too. Your allies will have your back when you need it.

You’re not fighting lone battles with no support when someone’s got your back. There’s less stress and it’s easier to be resilient when things turn into a giant shitstorm.

When your coworkers are allies too, it makes for a productive and happier workplace. You're supporting each other, not hating each other's guts, and the office vibes reflect that.

Your allies can sometimes become friends too. Not that they need to be your work BFFs - that’s just a bonus! There's nothing wrong with building positive alliances that are strictly professional.

How To Start Building Alliances

Forming positive alliances is the key for making progress in your job and career. Your boss and your coworkers are obvious candidates but your allies can come from anywhere in the organization, even from the folks in the mailroom - gotta get those personal packages at work!

If you don’t find it easy to create friendships, the thought of building alliances may be super scary or at least a little intimidating.

You might also think that there’s something sneaky or conniving about building alliances. That’s totally not true. You’ll be offering as much to the other person as they will for you.

That said, there are some pointers and tips to get started in the right way and make sure the alliance gets off on the right note. 

1) Set Out The Expectations

Positive alliances at work are mutually beneficial but only if both sides are equally invested in it.

Most alliances fail because one of you didn’t deliver on the initial expectations. Solid communication right from the start about what’s expected of both parties avoids the potential for problems later on. It also helps build trust.

When you start creating workplace alliances, make sure each side fully communicates and understands the needs of the other. You should both be gaining something from the alliance, even if it's just a listening ear.

2) Don’t Ask For Too Much

Allies will go out of their way to help you but there are limits. Sometimes, they may have genuine intentions to support you but they have bigger priorities at that moment. After all, everything can’t be number one.

Maybe they can’t help you out at that very moment because of an upcoming deadline, risking their own reputation or finding themselves in an impossible situation. It could also be a matter of office politics.

Respecting their position, time and investment is crucial, especially if you want them to do the same for you.

Asking too much of them sets a dangerous precedent since they can easily ask the same of you. Start out small and be the one to offer support first. Build that trust.

Then, with time, your allies will help when and where they can, as long as the requests are reasonable and part of their responsibilities.

3) Start By Giving First

Since a positive alliance is a two-way relationship, offering support is crucial. It's the basis of a strong and healthy partnership.

The golden rule?

Give before you ask for anything. If you're requesting something straight after giving, it's much more of a transaction rather than an alliance.

Giving help and advice before you get anything back makes other people want to do the same for you later on.

This might look like staying late occasionally to get your submission to them done so they can get their work done. It may be jumping in to help with a spreadsheet or Powerpoint presentation because you kick ass at it.

Or, it could be as simple as being there to listen to them vent about the asshole at work.

Look for opportunities to offer support and feedback to people who may become strong allies, but be careful that you don’t pile too much on your plate. You’ve gotta set boundaries for yourself too.

Forming positive alliances at work is a smart move but not if it’s at the expense of your mental health and well-being. Your focus is on being the best at what you do and helping out others if, when and where it’s possible.

4) Overdeliver To Build And Gain Trust 

Trust is a crucial part of any alliance and it’s easier than you think to start gaining it.

Delivering on what you say you’ll do is crucial. Your actions have to back up your words. This gives you solid credibility as someone they can trust as an ally.

Even better, aim to overdeliver. Do more than was expected of you and get a reputation as someone who kicks ass and exceeds expectations.

Get it done before the deadline.

Add some unexpected value.

Keep them in the loop if any problems arise.

Go above and beyond while you’re trying to form alliances. You’ll reap the rewards later on. 

5) Aim High In The Organization

Are you afraid to go after workplace alliances with people in upper management?

Don’t be.

Aim high - senior managers and even vice presidents can become strong allies. Unless they’re fucking clueless executives, they can advocate for you and raise your profile in the company.

Their value to you may be obvious but what do they get out of a positive alliance with you? Quite a lot, potentially!

They’re under a ton of pressure every single day. If you can help them to be less stressed, you become a super valuable ally.

Your personal brand is crucial here. If you’re not already owning yours, now is the time to create a personal brand they’ll want to partner with.

Working on your communication skills can help too. When you present your ideas confidently, other people take notice and listen - even at upper levels! This is when your positive reputation carries a lot of weight.

6) Be Invaluable For Your Boss 

Unless your boss is a grade-A asshole, they can become a handy ally.

If they're willing, you can offer a fresh perspective and be their eyes and ears in the office. You're not turning into a spy or snitch here; it's more about alerting them to potential issues before they become full-blown crises.

When problems do occur, presenting solutions can make you an invaluable ally.

You can be the person who takes something off their to-do list, not one who heaps more on their plate. They'll quickly come to see you as someone who makes their life easier because you get shit done and don’t cause more problems, but fix them.

And in return, they're more likely to sing your praises, be your greatest advocate and write-up a kick-ass recommendation on your annual performance review.

7) Look For Allies Everywhere

It’s not just your peers and management that can make for successful alliances. Your allies can come from surprising places.

You might overlook admin assistants, for example, but often, they’ll fill you in on information you wouldn’t normally get access to. And they might open doors that were firmly closed.

Interns can be another valuable ally.

Sure, they may not be at your company for very long but when they move on, they can vouch for you elsewhere. If you start planning your exit from your company, growing your connections on LinkedIn is a big benefit, so connect with them.

Be a mentor to interns who join your company and who knows, they just might end up at another company that’s looking for new senior managers or executives. 

8) Resolve Disputes As Early As You Can

Just because you’ve built a positive alliance, it doesn’t mean you’ll never disagree on anything.

The truth is, disagreements are inevitable. They're even healthy.

One big plus of having allies is getting access to different perspectives and opinions. And while they won't always align with yours, this can be a positive thing. Differing opinions can bring new solutions and opportunities to learn and grow. They can also spot potential things you didn’t think of - good or bad.

But if genuine conflict crops up, resolve it as soon as possible. You’ve gotta learn to deal with arguments at work and not lose your shit. Talk it out and avoid bad feelings that could jeopardize the alliance.

Seek Out Allies To Be Happier & Get Ahead

Having allies in the right places at work can make life a lot easier. It also primes you to be more productive and seek out success.

Next time you’re in danger of missing a big deadline or you need someone to put in a good word for you with the powers-that-be, you can call on your allies for help. They'll be happy to do it because of the relationship you've been building.

It’s not just a practical way to reduce and manage stress and get ahead at work either. Forming positive alliances can make you feel happier too. They make work a better place to be.

Look for potential allies across your company, even right at the top.

Just remember it's a two-way street and it's something that takes time to develop and bear fruit. There’s no instant reward here. You have to give plenty and consistently to eventually get it back.

So, what are you waiting for?

It’s time to start laying the groundwork!

Feel Better,

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