If you want to work in a corporate, then you should know how to play chess, because what happens at various organisations is just the same as playing chess, especially when it comes to office politics. Organisational politics is unescapable and if you think your workplace is without politics, then perhaps you have to think again. Actually, it is the organisation which suffers if the employees are engaged in politics. Politics never benefits anyone in the long run, instead affects the performance of individuals and the organisation at large.
What is workplace politics?
Office politics arises when employees tend to misuse their power to gain undue attention and popularity at the workplace. When employees meet at workplaces they bring their own personal emotions, needs, ambitions, and insecurities into their professional lives. If all these differences are not merged or these differences become difficult to manage, that’s where office politics arises. Politics reduces the productivity of individuals and eventually the organisation due to increased conflicts and tensions at the workplace.
Reasons for office/workplace politics
Politics arises when employees try to gain something which is beyond their control by tarnishing their colleague’s reputation. It has been observed that employees who indulge in office politics pay less attention to their work and politics spoils the relationship among individuals. Individuals play politics at the workplace when they tend to misuse their power simply to come in the limelight and gain attention of superiors as well as management. Nothing productive comes out of politics. Instead, it leads to criticism and negativity at the workplace.
Effects of politics on organisation and employees
Resigning your job due to office politics thinking that other companies would not have such politics might be a miscalculation as the only difference is in the degree of politics. Politics affect the overall productivity of the organisation, it lowers the output of an individual and eventually affects the productivity of the organisation. Most individuals who play politics at the workplace pay less attention to their work, hence spend most of their time in pulling each other and back-biting as well as criticising their fellow workers.
Navigating the corporate corridors of office politics. The chess.
If you want to become a full-fledged professional in your industry, you have to learn how to deal with office politics or prevent becoming part of it. Changing jobs frequently is no solution to politics, but one must try to avoid politics for a healthy and positive ambience at the workplace. Escaping the influence of organisational politics requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. One has to recognise that no matter how bad the circumstances might be, reacting well will lead to someone not being affected by politics.
Avoid backstabbing and gossiping at work
Gossiping is one of the most poisonous, hurtful and dangerous activities you can engage in at an organisation. I know at some point everyone has experienced the harm of gossip before. You should know that whether the people talking did not mean direct harm, the result of gossip is always broken trust and hurt feelings. Avoiding gossip can also help to reduce the extent to which employees find it difficult to work or progress in their careers due to the negative atmosphere created by co-workers, supervisors, or the company culture itself. In fact, gossiping will create a toxic environment.
Do not be a perpetrator of favouritism at work
Nobody wants to be in a company where there is a lot of favouritism at it fuels office politics. It is good if you are the favourite employee, but not good for everybody else, hence you should by all means try to be transparent and avoid favouritism in all aspects at work. But the fact of the matter is they are not the only employee in your organisation. As a leader, you have to give everyone the same treatment. A strict rule imposed upon one employee must, therefore, be enforced on another committing the same offense.
Do not get involved in tolerating any political behaviour
Politics never benefits anyone in the long run. Employees must concentrate on their own work rather than interfering in their colleague’s work. The minute leadership accepts political or bureaucratic behaviours, it is an invitation for it to run rampant within the company culture. If you are a manager, you must not be partial to anyone. This then entails that you should not blindly support any of the employees. Moreso, you should not take action against anyone just because one of his team members has said something negative against him.
Avoid taking sides at all cost
Individuals should avoid appearing to take sides in any conflict that may happen in an organisation. In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in-between two power figures who are at odds with each other. In cases like this, avoid taking side. Rather, eliminate your-self from the issues and act as if you are not part of the issue. By this you are trying to be an in-between and avoid hating one individual by taking sides. If you do not take sides, issues will be handled in an objective manner.
Its chess, continuously learn about your company
Politics never benefits anyone in the long run, but at the same time we should always learn about our company so that we do not end up being perpetrators of office politics and we also learn to manage if we are victims. Very few employees are humble enough to learn, but that is critical so that you are not caught unaware by the existing office politics. By learning your office policies and procedures, you can easily know who to report to, how to deal with a situation as well as what is supposed to be done. Know who your supervisors are, the office policies and procedures, and the organisational structure. This way, when things get bad, you know how and when to report it formally, and to whom you should submit the complaint or report.
All workplaces are political to some extent, just because employees converge coming from different backgrounds with different ways of doing things that can trigger office politics. It is also crucial to note that office politics can’t be banned completely, but it can be managed.