As we spend an average of eight hours a day at work, we would like our work environment to be a harmonious one. Good relationships with your boss and colleagues can make for a healthy career and pleasurable workdays, while a bad relationship with either a boss or colleague can be distracting and make working a complete nightmare.
An amiable work environment can be difficult to achieve at times with individuals from varied backgrounds and with different values. The environment is made more complicated when there is office politics. We have probably seen some of these politics in play at work: an ambitious colleague who appears nice to everyone but backstabs them just to get promoted, an insecure colleague who spreads vicious lies about another colleague hoping that the boss will get rid of him or her, and many more.
Surviving the politics
So how do you survive office politics? First, you need to accept the fact that office politics is unavoidable in any work environment. Then, try these measures to manage them effectively:
- Focus on business objectives and team goals. By doing this, you disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will be impressed by your maturity and strategic thinking.
- Understand others before expecting them to understand you. Once you demonstrate that you appreciate and understand your colleagues’ viewpoints and explanations, they will feel less defensive and be more open to understanding you in return.
- Never take office politics personally and always be professional. When you are at the receiving end of malicious gossip or ruthless backstabbing, it is natural to feel angry and vengeful. But remember what goes around comes around. Allowing yourself to become entangled in the cycle of office politics will not only affect your work, but also your personal life and career prospects. You want to build a network of allies in your office, not a network of enemies!
- If you are caught in between two parties, do not take sides, even if you like one party better than the other. Find a solution that is beneficial to both parties. This would help build their trust in you as someone who is able to resolve conflicts objectively and effectively.
- If you are a victim of office politics, focus on the things you can control or influence instead of dwelling on your anger or feelings of injustice. This empowers you and eliminates any sense of helplessness. You may not be able to change the eventual outcome, but you can take comfort in knowing that you have done the best you could, given the circumstances.
- Open the lines of communication. Talk to the other party, if you are a victim of office politics, to find out the underlying reason(s) of his or her behaviour. If things are not resolved, seek your boss’ advice or ask your human resource department to intervene. Make sure you provide supporting documentation.
Office politics take time away from your work, drain your energy, ruin relationships and cause hurt to others. Do not let them stop you from being an effective worker – manage them successfully to create a working environment that is conducive for all.
- I have a colleague who is spreading negative rumours about me. What should I do?
- Talk to her
- Tell the boss
- Leave the company
- Office politics happen when there are
- Same values
- Differing opinions
- Varying job requirements
- In dealing with office politics, I should
- Not take it personally
- Focus on business objectives
- All of the above