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Seven things to know about office politics

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HC Online | 21 Jun 2016, 10:27 AM Agree 0
Whether you love or hate it, office politics will almost certainly occur in any firm. How can you navigate political pitfalls in the workplace?
  • Bernie Althofer | 22 Jun 2016, 12:26 PM Agree 0
    Human behaviour and conduct are interesting issues when office politics are considered. Whilst some might view office politics as 'back stabbing, gossiping and other similar activies', the underlying currents carry a bed of 'hostility' because of informal and formal networks that are established through the recruitment and placement of personnel.

    In some workplaces, the networks created through employment of related personnel can mean that other individuals become very guarded in what they say as they know and understand how the networks actually function. For example, a person may have created very close links between themself, the CEO and other senior managers who are decision makers. Other workers may see this one person engage in 'time wasting activities', being constantly late or taking extended 'smoking breaks' or 'lunch breaks'. Despite the negative view held by some workers, they still manage to form a 'bond' with that person and join them on the extended breaks etc. As these links are forged, others are left to carry the workload, and when the matter is raised with the 'others', the view expressed is that 'you can't say anything because they are protected'.

    Whilst some office politics can be used in a positive way, it is the subversive, negative politics that create environments where trust becomes an issue; fear of having open and transparent discussions with management festers like an open sore; and hard working managers and workers at all levels are left to pick up the slack.

    Unfortunately, when senior managers, line managers and even workers don't understand the dark side of office politics, workplaces can end up becoming very toxic resulting in staff disatisfaction, loss of morale, increased presenteeism, loss of productivity and even workplace bullying. Knowing and navigating the office politics is critical and perhaps should even be part of risk management planning. It is a problem if 'everyone knows how damaging it is and no-one does anything about it'. Then again, if the fear of speaking up is such that an individual will become a target, why shouldn't they just get on with their work, even though they might be aware of the office politics. In smaller workplaces, there is nowhere to hide, and isolation can be a terrible thing if one is not seen as a participant.
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