Office politics

Hi all,

My name is Perry and I have recently joined the NAS. I am 29 and was diagnosed with Asperger's in childhood.

I found it a nightmare finding work, and when I finally did it was a temp job at a major UK company. Once I was in, it was easy to show how good I am (and ASD people are) when actually given that opportunity, and I am still there nearly four years later, having also turned into a permanent member of staff two years ago. I believe that I have been successful in all of my roles and have even developed systems which have automated and improved systems within the team.

The problem is, I just cannot progress. I was under the mistaken belief that quietly doing a great job will prove to people that I am worthy of more responsibility and the chance to move into a more challenging and rewarding role, rather than being fed the scraps that nobody else can be bothered to do.

I have queried this with the management, who keep telling me about my "personal brand" (whilst also insisting that I am "very well-liked in the team"), but it has also been implied to me that I am beginning to be seen as a pain for making a noise about my concerns rather than just quietly "proving myself." With this in mind, I even disclosed my ASD status to my line managers, explaining that it is for this reason that "personal brand" is a difficult concept for me. Unfortunately, and perhaps predictably, it has had no effect. I have been looking to leave, applying for jobs elsewhere with no luck.

So how do I negotiate office politics? It really feels that the quality of work is less important than how you look and who you befriend, but there must be a way to successfully prove yourself in an office environment when you are on the autistic spectrum? Otherwise, it does feel that we are considerably disadvantaged here.

Any suggestions and ideas are welcome!


  • I will let you know when I find out. 

    Every workplace I have found to be similar. 

    The issues in all cases is me so some jobs are just not a right fit, I excel at the work I do always but it's not enough and the people side of things will alway baffle me.

    I have taken courses to understand what is expected of a colleague, but it's just crapola people look for similarities between them and their peers I think it's a hardwired survival instinct and if you are different they pick up on it always, it's like the bird that rolls it's egg out of the nest. 

  • Thanks all for the interesting responses, which are all much appreciated.

    I have been largely working from home since March/April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and I have found myself, in this time, developing some real anxieties about my place and role within the team. This probably isn't the right attitude, but I just passed thirty years of age during the lockdown and now I am starting to feel seriously depressed about where I am in my life. Unfortunately, any jobs I apply for are amounting to nothing.

    But as has been said - I also have to consider myself exceptionally lucky that I am employed at all at the moment, not least in a position where I can work full-time from home at the moment.

    Many thanks again!

  • Try to see it as 'just a job'. 

    It brings people together and that's what people do, backstabbing, politics, taking credit for other people's work, ... 

    As you would not do it if you wouldn't be paid for it, 

    If you wanted a certain type of job, try applying for this job in another company, and don't give up too fast. 

    Funny thing is, once you have a certain position, they will let you keep it provided you do a good job at it.  On the other hand 'Wanting' the job brings up the spirit of competition from fellow employees, the politics and backstabbing... 

  • I have found all these places to be soul destroying places that suck life out of.

    These places torture mind, body, spirit and soul.

    All of the places have made me extremely miserable, depressed, exhausted and unhappy.


    Weird Al Yankovic's song on corporate buzzwording...

    Apple, the company, was built on the hard work and genious of Steve Wozniak. Steve Jobs ended up with 10 times more money than Steve Wozniak... 

    They're all nice words to give a facade to the reality of backstabbing, politics, ...

  • The concept of 'personal brand' is a reflection of the reality of office politics. It's not enough to be good at your job, you do need to have the name recognition as someone that both adds value and has a cultural fit within the organisation.

    As with any brand, your personal brand can be damaged, and can take a long time to repair. Just one unguarded incident can lead to people perceiving you in a negative way and it takes many positive experiences to overrule that perception.

    The quick way to build a strong personal brand is to move to another company. A fresh start, no preconceptions, just adopt good behaviours and you'll immediately be seen as a valued member of the team.

    The behaviours are the same as those needed for doing it the long way: Adopt good corporate working practices and stick with them.

    What are those behaviours and practices? The usual bunch of soft skills. Meet your commitments, support your colleagues, help your manager achieve their objectives, build a strong professional network, always demonstrate positivity, never blame anybody, don't discuss politics or religion, demonstrate personal ownership of corporate issues.

    I have a book published on all of this, and if one of the admin wants to contact me via my forum email address I'm happy to provide an electronic copy that they can forward on to Perry.

  • I'm afraid the story they tell you about 'personal brand' is just another way of telling you that it's not going to happen. The fact that they like somebody's personal brand means they prefer that guy to hang out with on important meetings to you. I went a couple of times to Rome for the job. They only took me if they needed to talk some serious accounting. The boss was into 'geocaching', so they went looking for hidden boxes about the city... I went to have a drink next to the Colosseum with another colleague... needless to say the guys who went along to look for hidden boxes were moving faster than I...

    Evaluation processes are hyper-subjective. I knew to go from a level 15 to 16 the communication requirements were the same. The boss then told me my communication skills needed improving. I told him this: if they're good enough for a level 15, they're good enough for a level 16... no promotion... then they had a new job-definition called an 'expert' and I asked my boss if that would be something for me... he told me, he saw me more as a 'specialist' than an expert. 

    I did find another job, paid as a level 16 in the previous company. That was lucky. Don't give up too fast, the proces of interviews and negotiation can be very entertaining. If you see the fun of that you'll take it as a hobby. 

    One thing I'm rather happy with, I made my CV as a visio-diagram with swimming lanes. I put fitting company logo's on it. I wanted it to look like an illustration in a popular scientific magazine... colours, popping out... and all on 1 page... fun fact... the guy who hired me started by telling me he invited me 'despite' of my weird cv.  

  • I agree it sounds badly run. My last office was gossip and bitchiness. I hit higher targets than anyone yet got bullied by the owner and her friend who was the manager as I didnt understand the bitchiness and small talk.

  • Sounds like a badly run company if they aren't rewarding your efforts and just fobbing you off. Personally i feel very limited in the workplace. I hate having to interact with people beyond a certain point. I struggle to make smalltalk and with telling people what to do. Some days i feel really stressed and have a hard time putting on a brave face. I find it near impossible to see how i can be in a more leadership role with these handicaps. 

  • All of the offices I have ever been have left me totally disillusioned with them.

    I have never heard about personal brands.

    I have always felt hopelessly stuck and unhappy in all of the offices too.

  • Hi - I dont have time to reply to night but I totally get you!

    Pennie x

  • It sounds like you have a 'personal brand' - you're ethical, stand up for what you believe and actively look to mend ineffective processes. Your what's termed a 'disrupter'. You're currently in an environment where disrupters aren't appreciated or wanted. It sounds like its time to move on.

    I'm the same as you. It can be harder to find the right fit of employer and I've had to move on from a number of posts if my managers have only been interested in the status quo but due to my willingness to leave and seek more I have progressed in my career at a faster rate to my peers.

    It comes across as though you have a tendency to blame yourself and your neurotype for you issues when in fact these problems affect everyone with a similar personality, whether AS or PNT.

  • Hi, well done for fitting in well with the team. Unfortunately in today's job market it is so competitive and often corrupt where your success is more related to your social skills and who you know than how well you perform or how intelligent you are. I have came across countless examples of this as have many family members I have spoken to. It is very hard for anyone to progress in some companies, and even more so for us on the spectrum 

    After I finished my engineering degree I worked in an office as a design engineer for a year and I hated everything about it, it would take too long to list all the problems I had with that sort of environment. You could keep trying for other jobs as you have nothing to lose and may come across somewhere better

  • I gave up and am putting all my effort into starting my own thing.

    On the internet no-one knows you're a cat Slight smile

  • Hi, 

    I empathise. I was a late diagnosis at 43 and 11 years later I’m working somewhere that I have been for over 7 years now and despite having lots of good ideas re organisation and how to make the place run smoother, I simply get ignored. 
    I've complained that I feel undervalued and under appreciated but they just don’t seem to want to know. 
    I know I’m probably too outspoken and I work too hard and am too efficient but yes, it’s very galling when those who do less advance because their face fits and you’re seen more as the ‘awkward’ one. 

    I wish you every success for the future.