Office Politics – It Is a War Out There
Your job is not supposed to look like a battle scene out of Avengers Infinity War. Office politics should be the exception in a workplace – not the norm. Unfortunately, they are common and ignoring them could put you in just as vulnerable of a position as indulging in them.
Office politics are the result of a highly competitive job market in almost all industries, which makes people feel insecure in their roles. This insecurity leads to a need to protect one’s own position, and that can lead to a terrible atmosphere in the office.
We have all seen it, whispers behind the back, projects suddenly being taken and given to someone else, in short – backstabbing. It makes a demanding job harder, saps your motivation and is ultimately damaging to the company’s effectiveness.
But trying to rise above it and ignore can be perilous. If you have been passed over for promotion, it could be you have overlooked the scheming going on. Avoiding office politics can sabotage your career. This is not good news for employees who may believe that their work alone will get them ahead. But the reality is, it takes both great performance and political know-how to get ahead, especially in a competitive workplace.
Remain True to Yourself
In a competitive, cutthroat environment it can be easy to act accordingly. But it is important not to. Remain true to your own ethical code. See how others use the system to get ahead. But, that does not mean that is the only way to go about getting what you want.
Essentially, do not stoop to their level. You will feel more relaxed and just that easing of tension will enable you to gain clarity and objectivity. You will then begin to realise there are ways to do your job and progress naturally.
Be Politically Savvy
So, the ability to negotiate office politics doe not mean you have to get your hands dirty. You just have to be neutral and look at the issue from above. In a busy office, you may think it seems like everyone is stabbing everyone else in the back. But the reality is the decisions that affect your career are probably be made by a very small number of people. These are the key influencers, and they are probably not affected or swayed by office politics.
Find out who these people are. Power and influence constantly shift, so make sure you stay tuned into the energy in the office. Create visibility with these influencers. Build a network of allies and champions who stand up for you and support your ideas and advancement. These allies should be secure in their position within the office and pose no threat to you.
Know Your Environment
What is the culture at your company? Does it value diversity in the workplace? Be on the lookout for potential gender or cultural bias. Is the culture conservative, innovative, hierarchical? And most importantly, will you have the opportunity to showcase your talent in this environment?
Once you completely understand your environment, office politics will become nothing more than a mild distraction. You do not need to involve yourself in dirty office politics to get ahead. But, you should not sell yourself short either. Do not worry about being so good you intimidate others. Just be good at your job and encouraging of others that do outstanding work too. This is one sure-fire way to stand out in a constructive way, while also having a positive impact, in any office.
Be the Change You Want to See
Company culture, like any culture, is always evolving. Instead of being reactive to office politics, be positively proactive. Realise that you can become one of the people you look up to. Focus on changing your company’s culture from the inside, even if only in a small way, through leading by example.