There is no getting around it. Office Politics play a major role in organisations. Some employees love the game and play it with ease while others recoil at the very idea of it. The fact is that by becoming a master of the game you can gain popularity, respect and recognition, which in turn can increase your chances of a pay rise and promotion.
Within any organisation there are the following three types of employee:
1. Those who play office politics well: These are the people who debate, exchange ideas, challenge, share knowledge and find solutions; they are the prominent figures in the workplace.
2. Those who play office politics badly: These are the people who shy away from hard work by passing on responsibilities to others or passing the buck when things go wrong or they may be a gossip or a complainer, creating a negative workplace environment; these people get themselves noticed for all the wrong reasons.
3. Those who don’t play at all: This type of person keeps their head down, their opinions and ideas to themselves and gets their work done without comment; these people are often lacking visibility in the workplace.
How to play the game – and win:
1. Find out who are the rivals and allies: This can be ascertained by checking the alignments of others: who talks to whom; who has lunch together; who works collaboratively; who is invited to important events and meetings; who gets the CPD training opportunities etc.
2. Form key working relationships and build allies across the organisation, but don’t pick a side. By forming positive relationships across a broad spectrum, you are not forming allegiances and collaborations with one group or becoming part of a clique. Political climates are constantly changing and you should be careful not to affiliate yourself exclusively with one camp.
3. Don’t be afraid to form relationships with those in a higher hierarchal position to you. You should not be intimidated by someone’s position in a company. Make casual conversation with them or ask their advice on a work project. Be consistently friendly, approachable and positive.
4. Seek out a coach or mentor: somebody in the company who you know has knowledge, experience or a skill that you would like to learn. They will be flattered and not only will this be a positive collaboration, it will also help and support you in achieving your goals.
5. Make sure you do not become emotionally involved. This is your job; it is a place of work and you are not involved in office politics for fun or to be in with the in crowd. Avoid gossiping and back-stabbing and focus on being a professional, reliable and willing co-worker. Workplace relationships should be formed with the aim of creating a positive and effective working environment through key partnerships and collaborative working.
6. Stick to your personal moral code of conduct. Don’t engage in behaviour that sits outside of your values and beliefs. If you feel you are being manipulated by others to behave in a way that you are uncomfortable with, take a step back and reassess the situation. Giving yourself time to reflect can help you to make the right decision.