Every office has drama, with some people taking credit for others’ work, self-promoting, complaining, and perpetuating rumours. Office politics are about differences in opinions, personalities, authority, or power; if left unchecked, they can erode office culture, affect success, and lead to organizational damage. Employees and leaders need to learn how to manage office politics effectively, whether working in the office or remotely. Learning to deal with differences and work together is essential for professional success.
Definition of workplace politics
Workplace politics refers to using power, influence, and relationships within an organization to achieve personal or group goals, often at the expense of others or the broader organizational mission. Workplace politics involves forming alliances, building networks, engaging in favouritism, manipulating information, and engaging in power struggles, among others.
It can create a competitive and sometimes hostile work environment that can undermine trust, collaboration, and productivity and lead to a breakdown in communication and conflict. Understanding and managing workplace politics are critical for career success, as they can impact one’s ability to achieve personal and professional goals and navigate the organizational culture.
Benefits of rising above workplace politics
Rising above workplace politics can have several benefits, including:
- Improved productivity: When you focus on your work and avoid getting involved in office politics, you can stay focused on your goals and get more done.
- Increased job satisfaction: When you’re not dealing with office politics, you’re likely to feel less stressed and more positive about your job, which can increase your job satisfaction.
- Better relationships: By avoiding office politics, you can build better relationships with your colleagues based on mutual respect and trust rather than backstabbing and gossiping.
- Enhanced reputation: When you rise above workplace politics, you can build a reputation as a professional focused on results rather than someone playing political games.
- Career advancement: By focusing on your work and building solid relationships, you may be more likely to be considered for promotions and other career opportunities.
- Improved mental health: Office politics can be a significant source of stress and anxiety, so by avoiding it, you can reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health.
Adverse Effects of Workplace Politics
Workplace politics refer to the actions and behaviours of employees or groups that focus on gaining advantages, power, or influence within an organization. While some level of politics is inevitable in any workplace, excessive or unethical political behaviour can adversely affect individuals and the organization. Here are some examples of the adverse effects of workplace politics:
- Reduced Productivity: When employees are too focused on playing politics, they may neglect their responsibilities and put their interests ahead of the organization’s goals. This can lead to reduced productivity, missed deadlines, and poor-quality work.
- Low Morale: Political behaviour can create a toxic work environment that fosters a sense of distrust, suspicion, and insecurity. This can lower morale, increase stress, and decrease employee job satisfaction.
- Unfair Treatment: Workplace politics can create a biased environment in which specific individuals or groups are favoured over others, regardless of their skills or contributions. This can result in a need for more diversity and equity in the workplace, which can be demotivating for employees who feel overlooked or undervalued.
- High Turnover: When employees feel undervalued, unsupported, or mistreated due to political behaviour, they are more likely to leave the organization. This can lead to high turnover rates, which can be costly and disruptive for the company.
- Loss of Trust: Political behaviour can erode trust within the organization and between employees and management. This can create a culture of suspicion and blame, which can hinder communication and collaboration.
Employers must monitor and address political behaviour to ensure a healthy and productive work environment.
Strategies for Rising Above Workplace Politics
Workplace politics can be a challenging aspect of many jobs, and it can be tough to navigate. However, rising above workplace politics is possible, and you can take some actions to support yourself.
- Focus on Your Work: One of the best things you can do to rise above workplace politics is to focus on your work. Instead of getting involved in office politics, concentrate on your job duties and achieving your goals. When you are doing good work, it’s hard for others to drag you into their political games.
- Stay Professional: It can be challenging to remain professional in the face of office politics, but it’s essential if you want to rise above them. Don’t engage in gossip or negative talk about colleagues or the company. Instead, keep your interactions professional and polite.
- Build Positive Relationships: Positive relationships with colleagues can help you navigate workplace politics. When you have positive relationships, you can focus on working together towards common goals rather than getting involved in office politics. You may also find that colleagues are more likely to support you.
- Avoid Taking Sides: It’s important to avoid taking sides in office politics. Taking sides can create enemies and harm your professional reputation. Instead, try to remain neutral and avoid getting involved in conflicts that don’t involve you directly.
- Communicate Effectively: Good communication is vital to navigating workplace politics. When you communicate effectively, you can clarify expectations, share information, and build trust. This can help you avoid misunderstandings and prevent conflicts from arising in the first place.
- Be assertive: If you are facing a situation where you feel you are being treated unfairly or unjustly, be bold and stand up for yourself respectfully and professionally.
- Seek Support: If you are struggling with workplace politics, it can be helpful to seek support from a mentor, a coach, or a friend. Having someone to talk to can help you navigate difficult situations and keep you focused on your goals.
In summary, workplace politics can adversely affect an organization’s productivity, morale, fairness, turnover, and trust. Employers must monitor and address political behaviour to ensure a healthy and productive work environment.
As an employee, avoid getting involved when colleagues compete for power, and stay objective and focused on work. Showcase successes, but don’t brag. Be accurate and diplomatic in setting the record straight, and find opportunities to share achievements with those who matter while you maintain integrity to achieve a successful career.
Remember that rising above workplace politics takes time and effort. But by focusing on your work, staying professional, building positive relationships, avoiding taking sides, communicating effectively, and seeking support, you can navigate these challenges and thrive in your job.
Overall, rising above workplace politics can help you achieve your goals, build strong relationships, and advance your career, all while maintaining your mental and emotional well-being.