The term “office politics” is often equated with negative behaviour like “backstabbing”, spreading malicious rumours, and “sucking up” to the right people. Love it or loathe it, “office politics” is a fact of life in any organisation. Practising “positive” politics enables you to further yours and your team's interests fairly and appropriately, while achieving greater productivity and building more trust; being alert to ”negative” politics helps you to avoid becoming a victim while others take advantage.
We introduce 10 key points to consider in relation to “office politics” to help you navigate it positively; opting out of it will only hinder your career progression.
- There is no escaping the fact that politics exists wherever there are people, due to differing values, motivations and contexts.
- Frequently junior staff don’t yet realise that politics exist.
- Negative office politics can have profound negative consequences for both organisations and individuals.
- Office politics can be positive, leading to greater organisational cohesion, speedier decision making, increased trust and action.
- It is often seen as the informal way missions are accomplished and decisions are made.
- It’s really about why you think someone is doing something, rather than simply what they are doing ie. the context.
- Beliefs shape behaviour which influences other people’s behaviour, which reinforces beliefs.
- Context is everything, we may think we are apolitical but that’s because we know our motives.
- Everyone is a political “animal” of sorts; this is a simplistic way of thinking about it – fox, owl, mule and sheep.
- Four key skill areas provide a focus for developing increased political intelligence: communication, networking, influencing and - anything else that falls outside of these categories - something termed “factor X”.