saying ‘no’ to office politics might bring you more harm than good
Here’s a popular work advice: “Stay away from office politics.”
Well, this suggestion should become as good as obsolete now.
For years, a number of employees across the globe used to feel proud, and still do, while stressing their inability to effectively deal with office politics. But in fact, minding your own business in an office setting might not always help with getting ahead.
If we’re terrible at handling office politics, it’s nothing to be proud of anymore as this inability might prove to be one of the biggest weaknesses in our career.
Office politics exists in every organisation. After all, it is nothing but a default outcome of having people and power asymmetry within organisations. Moreover, it can be both bad and good, depending on the way you choose to deal with it.
“Office politics encompasses the social interactions, decision-making, and competing interests within the workplace.” When read carefully, this definition doesn’t seem to have anything negative, right?
Unwritten Rules: Organisational Savvy Competencies
1. Ability to understand power relationships within an organisation
2. Ability to influence the real decision-makers
3. Ability to anticipate responses from different individuals and groups to different situations
4. Ability to convince individuals or groups to get them to support an objective
The threads of these competencies are the same we will find at play in office politics. The only difference is in office politics, these competencies are used by a handful of individuals to benefit themselves by disadvantaging others.
Now you might be wondering, if these competencies are so good for office settings, why some of us are so bad at using them? It’s because we usually refer to the term “politics” as something negative and that eventually becomes our personal roadblock.
It’s high time we rewired office politics – as when done well, it can help solve problems, build relationships, and get things done.
Ways To Get Better At Office Politics
1. Analyse the formal structure or hierarchy of your organisation. Pay attention to the chain of command, and rules and regulations.
2. Map the organisation’s informal structure as well. Identify the key actors and decision influencers.
3. Spend time to understand the ‘real’ culture.
4. Recognise the ongoing internal politics within the organisation, such as rivalries and alliances.
5. Understand the real issues and opportunities. Basically, what is it that’s keeping everyone awake at night?
6. Work towards collaborations and coalitions.
But always remember, performance and competence are key to long-term success.