Office Politics

Office politics, that seems to be the theme these days. Never before have I been exposed to the interoffice and intercompany politics that I have been experiencing as of late. What’s most amusing is that it’s all levels, not just senior management, but the lowest levels as well. It is grossly overwhelming.

Backbiting, rear-licking, jealousies are often the words you use within the confines of office cubicles, while discussing the politics of your workplace, right?

The Times of India, Dec. 2010

What’s amazing to me, like most things, is that no matter how ineffective it is, it still seems to be lost in the noise and dominates workspaces. What’s even more amusing to me though are when offices or companies are naïve enough to think it doesn’t affect them or consciously recognize the problem but hide behind the “That’s how things get done here philosophy.”

Think of playing office politics as a game of strategy through which you are able to get the resources and influence you need to accomplish your goals. Most often those who are diplomatic, respectful and build coalitions with effective people win.”

CNN, March 2008

I should probably clarify my use of the word “ineffective.” Folks would probably argue that it is actually very effective and proven daily in all types of business. I suppose I really can’t argue with that, but I would argue having been experiencing it firsthand that its ineffectiveness is more so on the product or service you are offering and / or the people involved.

Unfortunately office politics seems to be inherent in most of us and the companies we work for. Even those that argue they prefer not to be involved in it sometimes get consumed by it, it’s like quick sand. The minute the fire is ignited it’s going to take, what feels like an act by congress, to get things back in check and folks working together towards a common goal.

Eighteen percent of an administrator’s time — more than nine weeks out of every year — is spent resolving conflicts among employees

“Surviving Office Politics.” Talent Scout. April 16, 1998

How to go about handling it is always a challenge, not because the guidance isn’t clear but because it’s often our egos and stubbornness that gets in the way.  Boy does this sound familiar. In some quick searches online I came across a couple points that they say are supposed to help you win, not sure if it’s true but maybe it does, you tell me:

  1. Observer how things get done in your organization
  2. Profile powerful individuals
  3. Determine strategic initiatives in the company
  4. Develop a personal track record as someone who gets results
  5. Don’t be afraid to too your own horn
  6. Treat everyone with respect

I have my own impressions and thoughts on what each of these really mean but the real joy in this is engaging you and getting your take. I’m also curious to know if anyone has actually used these steps or something similar to combat office politics or remove themselves from it.