Most of us experience a honeymoon period when we start a new job. You know, the 3 - 6 month period before you begin to see and feel the effects of office politics.
But then the “honeymoon” ends. And it’s time to face the reality that office politics exist in every workplace.
Office politics have a negative connotation for very legitimate reasons. They refer to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others, or at the expense of the greater good.
Office politics adversely affect the working environment, damages relationships and hold otherwise effective organizations back.
You either play or become a casualty of those who do.
Choosing to play office politics, or not, is really a Hobson’s choice. You are affected by office politics - even if you refuse to participate.
The truth is, if you don’t participate, you risk not having a say in what happens and allowing people with less experience, skill or a personal agenda, to influence decisions and outcomes that affect you and the organization.
Like most of you - we can’t stand office politics - and we hate the hard reality that it’s a Hobson’s choice. Which is why we decided to share with you our approach to office politics in which we scramble the variables of the equation to produce a result that supports the greater good and builds strong relationships.
We have employed many techniques over our careers to understand office politics and create influence for the greater good.
Here are a few key considerations to better understand the political landscape of your workplace:
Become a keen observer. Listen, really listen, to everything going on in your workplace. What are your co-workers saying and not saying? Read between the lines and begin to connect the dots about how influence is applied in your workplace.
Understand where the battle lines have been drawn and why. Knowing the history of the players, a particular skirmish, or personal agendas, will help you navigate.
Developing a strategy for positive politicking
Always keep the goals of the organization, and the greater good, as the focal point for your work. The line between negative and positive office politicking can easily be blurred. Always focus on the goals of the organization. Goals that are self-serving or benefit one team at another’s expense, will lead to negative office politicking.
Understand who the real influencers are in your organization. Many times they are not the members of the C suite. Look at your company through the lens of political power and re-map the organizational chart. Evaluate not only who is influencing, but why.
Leverage your network. Partner and build relationships with co-workers who are committed to working toward the organization’s goals. Working with others that share the same vision is a powerful tool in a highly political office.
Disrupt negative politics using transparency. People often control information in order to maintain power or gain influence. When you share information that others withhold, you take their power away.
Be prepared to adjust your strategy. The workplace landscape is always changing, corporate goals are modified and employees come and go. The tactics you use to effectively navigate a situation today may need to be modified in order to be successful next time.
Positively navigating office politics will help you build your network and get what you want in the workplace. If you do it well, you will make your organization stronger.
It’s not easy, it takes time and effort, but when you set the standard you would like to see, you will create a better working environment for yourself and those around you.