There is an old saying: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” And with that, what exactly is office politics? Well, according to a report by Ferris, Russ, and Fandt, titled, “Perceptions of Organizational Politics” they say “Organizations are social entities that involve a struggle for resources, personal conflicts, and a variety of influence tactics executed by individuals and groups to obtain benefits and goals in different ways.”
Given that most organizational associates simply see personally conflicts and a variety of influence strategies in their workplace, they identify workplace politics as increasing of self-interests and self-interests only. However, the core reason for workplace politics goes beyond the manager and employee job supervision to rather a bureaucracy of power-struggles with senior stakeholders who set the expectations for the organization’s culture. These are the ones that feel insecure and do not want any changes because a change in the workplace climate may eliminate their positions, which is why they associate themselves with those in power and influence. The larger an organization is, the more political one may find itself in, if anyone aspire for influence or promotion, he/she must be heard and seen by the movers and shakers of the organization.
How Does One Play the Game
➢ Be conscious about your movement because workplace politics is a skill that takes time and experience to master.
➢ Embrace the hierarchy in the workplace and don’t take it personal when you feel that you are being attacked. Squandering too much time and energy defending your actions, sends the wrong message that you don’t fit into the organizational culture. And not participating too, sends a message that you don’t want to be in the game.
➢ Everyone has different qualities in your team, as a result, don’t waste too much time and energy defending your actions. To win the game, build allies with whom you can be straightforward with, since they’re playing the same game.
➢ Most workplace politics are stirred up by a conflict of interest, so try and avoid taking sides. Focus on the task at hand rather than any conflicting opinions, alert people to any specific issues and admit to any mistakes. If you are open, you are less likely to fall victim to gossiping.
➢ If there is a smear campaign against your integrity, in order for another person to take your place up the corporate ladder, don’t retaliate but rather remember that in the art of war, “Hold out baits to entice the enemy.” Be intentional about being authentic. If pleasantries turn malicious, try cunningly to deflect the conversation onto safer ground and be aware of when a piece of news is suitable office exchange and when it’s better kept secret. Above all, retain your sense of humor; for people feed off emotion and drama. If you can laugh off petty rumor-mongering, it’s likely to die a swift death.
➢ Find your voice and words, and don’t let fear prevent you from having your ideas heard by your manager. If he/she will not hear you, write down your ideas and start working on the ones that do not dictate their approval. By carrying out this step, people will be prepared to converse about their accomplishment with their direct reports during and after their performance reviews.
Secondly, politicking can be a force for good or malevolence.
For example, studies which developed this conception (e.g., Drory, 1993; Ferris & Kacmar, 1992) found that workplace politics was perceived as self-serving behavior by employees to achieve self-interests, advantages, and benefits at the expense of others and sometimes contrary to the interests of the entire organization or work unit. This behavior was frequently associated with manipulation, defamation, subversive-ness, and illegitimate ways of overusing power to attain one’s objectives. And that is the reason why workplace politics has gotten so much negative connotations, because of the negative influential behaviors associated with people when they begin trying to achieve their goals of getting to the top of the corporate ladder.
In the last organization that I worked in, the people that got promoted fastest were never the ones that were best at their job duties; but were the people who were the most congenial with the persons above them and put in the most face time. Nevertheless, as Beth Weissenberger asserts in Bloomberg Business Week – “Everyone engages in office politics. Even if you are an employee who keeps to your small group of co-workers and tries not to be noticed, you are attempting to remain in your position, and you therefore have an agenda. This statement shows that human nature will always play an important part in workplace politics.” Thus, employees will do better in utilizing their individual skills to deliver and evolve the mission and vision of their organization even in the heart of all the persuasion and manipulation of the workplace.
Finally, to evade being outmaneuvered in the game of workplace politics, people must be willing to participate in their workplace politics, whether people want to or not; or risk getting laid off for poor cultural fit. Love them or hate them, workplace politics is a permanent feature of workers professional experiences, and therefore people mustn’t sit back but rather establish an active intellectual interest and knowledge resources in their careers and communicate their desires to move upward with their direct reports while seizing opportunities to stay front and center by means of taking on new assignments and putting in extra effort to show senior stakeholders they are willing to do more than the next guy; at the same time bouncing around few latest industry trends ideas to show that they are (SMEs) subject matter experts in their field of work.