Posted on Dec 21,2021
Get to Know Office Politics Closely, and Learn How You Can Turn The Tables in Your Favour.
In order to build a successful life you will require finances, money is the ultimate parameter of comfort and for some people having a lot of money is the parameter for success too. The strong fundamental of life is our career or profession, after all, success in this dimension is largely connected to financial stability. Thus, it won’t be wrong to say that our careers play an important part in our lives and determine the level of our happiness and comfort to a large extent.
However, nothing comes easy to live. The truth is, life is complicated and so is establishing interpersonal relationships with our colleagues and bosses. Favouritism, group formations, and politics are an integral part of not only the office culture but the society as a whole. Yet it reflects a lot on office politics because stakes are really high.
Quoting famous and loved villain here, Joker, “Their morals, their code; it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. You’ll see- I’ll show you. When the chips are down these, uh, civilised people? They’ll eat each other. See I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve.” A bit out of context yet subtly explaining the whole office politics system.
What is office politics?
Individuals' actions to increase their standing and pursue their own agenda – often at the sacrifice of others – are referred to as office politics. These unofficial or informal self-serving behaviours may be one of the reasons why office politics has a bad image. However, there are some positive sides to what is usually known as office politics. Office politics, for instance, may just be a byproduct of interacting and developing stakeholder connections.
What do researchers say?
As published in Harvard Business Review, all organisations are political – and will always be to some extent. The psychological factors are at the root of the problem. To begin with, a job entails interacting with others. That entails striking a balance between what they want and what we want, which is frequently a zero-sum scenario. Second, people are emotional beings that are influenced by unconscious desires and plagued by anxieties. "When dealing with people, remember you are dealing with creatures of emotions, not creatures of intellect," said the legendary Dale Carnegie, who perhaps understood more about the art of politics than anyone else.
As a consequence, office politics tend to overshadow official organisational responsibilities and hijack essential organisational processes, making basic activities difficult and laborious and organisations inefficient; tiring individuals out and accounting for a large percentage of work-related stress and burnout. Indeed, despite being brilliant, hardworking, and having the best of intentions, we all know people who have died as a result of their failure to handle office politics. In that way, politics may be viewed as a natural force that we must adjust in order to survive successfully.
Why do people indulge in office politics?
Besides nature, according to Management Study Guide (MSG), There are several instances why an organisation's office politics develop. Some people, for example, are prepared to be in the spotlight without putting in a lot of work because of politics. These are typically the folks that do not believe in working hard. They have a tendency to exaggerate their own image while blaming their coworkers. Personal connections, blame games, a lack of trust, manipulation, and gossip are all factors that contribute to the popularity of office politics in businesses. As a result of all of these factors, it's possible that professional politics has more negative than positive effects on an organisation.
Effects of office politics on Individuals
Without politics, an organisation cannot attain its full potential in today's demanding and fast-paced environment. Leadership institute Roffey Park compiled a study on HR Managers and professional’s views on office politics:
"While just under a third of pessimists thought office politics couldn't be utilised productively, more than half (58 per cent) had seen it work in their favour. 522 of the 856 persons questioned said they had engaged in workplace politics, but that it had resulted in a beneficial conclusion for their company."Hence, let’s dig in for some of the advantages and disadvantages of office politics.
Arranges people as per your aims and plans
The astute "political actors" will recognise your objectives and how they relate to the organization's objectives. They'll be aware of your preferred methods and will make an attempt to emulate them.
Competition increases the motivation
Competitiveness will encourage your employees to strive for success and recognition. This will boost business in general.
Mirroring your colleagues can improve your bond
When your employees must work with persons that have difficult personality types, it's a good idea to mimic their actions, speech, and attitude. Both sides will be able to communicate more effectively as a result of this.
People start self-monitoring
Work dynamics will provide your employees with the skills they need to figure out the norms of interaction. This includes refraining from gossiping, rising above disagreements, refraining from whining, refraining from being judgemental, and adopting any behaviours that align with the company's beliefs and norms.
We need to communicate with one another as people. This is especially true if we spend 9 hours a day working in close quarters. Some people find it difficult to confide in their coworkers because they are afraid that it may escalate and information will be exposed.
This can result in job stress, which can be harmful to people's health. Furthermore, if a secret is kept, the person who kept it will experience an increase in stress if the secret is exposed from some other source.
Develops trust issues
When someone develops a reputation as a manipulator or gossiper by utilising office politics, it's understandable that the rest of the team won't trust them. This is detrimental to both the individual's and the company's success.
When workplace politics and various rumours are circulating around the office, then naturally your people will find it hard to concentrate on their work. They can be easily distracted and their focus shifts from their assigned task to gaining an advantage over a peer. This leads to your people making mistakes and being less productive.
Employees become the narrators and distort the reality
Whenever your employees use office politics to their advantage, they may distort information to their advantage. As a result, top members of staff may receive a skewed view about what is going on in your company. As a result, someone may incorrectly take credit or blame for anything.
Breaks the motivation
Due to their skill to manipulate office politics, a non-performer might be highly favoured by a top company leader. This person may be wrongly receiving consideration, recommendation or even encouragement. Your team will be demotivated as a result of this.
If your employees do not believe their efforts are being recognised, they are less likely to become brand ambassadors and go "above and beyond" for you.
How to use office politics in your favour
As explained by trusted sources here are some of the tips that can help you in gaining a good advantage amidst office politics. Here, we are trying to explain that no matter how inevitable may office politics seem like but you can get benefited out of it without harming anyone.
Analyse the structure of your office
The official organisational structure is frequently bypassed by office politics. So, instead of focusing on people's ranks or job titles, take a step back and watch for a time, and then map the political power and influence in your company.
To do so, consider the following questions: "Who are the true influencers?" "Who has power but doesn't seem to use it?" "Who is treated with respect?" says the narrator. "Who is the brains behind the business?" are two questions that come to mind.
Build relationships that are effective
Once you've figured out how the organization's current relationships operate, you can create your own social network to use as a channel for persuading key individuals and boosting your team's visibility. Develop relationships with people in all levels of the official hierarchy (peers, managers, executives), including those with informal influence. Build connections based on trust and respect, and don't be afraid to get to know the organization's politically important individuals. To maintain your finger on the pulse of the organisation as a whole, don't associate yourself with a single group and join several networks.
Hone up your people skills
Politics is all about people, therefore having excellent interpersonal skills can help you establish and retain your connections.
Consider your thoughts, what causes them, and how you deal with them. You'll be capable of thinking before you act if you can learn to self-regulate. This type of emotional intelligence also aids you in detecting other people's feelings and determining what strategy they prefer or hate.
Also, learn to pay attention to what you're hearing. You will slow down, focus, and learn if you devote time to listening. Those appreciate people who pay attention to people!
Act as a facilitator when you're in charge of a project or programme when stakeholders have different viewpoints or priorities. Stimulate the parties in the conversation, not only with you but also with one another. Organise a meeting that emphasises the project's alignment with the company's overall strategic goals. Invite folks with opposing viewpoints to lunch for a debate. Make whatever adjustments are necessary to make the competing viewpoints more visible. When stakeholders have conflicting agendas, ask them to rank their priorities. People will be relieved to know that their opinions are being heard, and they will be more willing to seek out an acceptable solution.
Overall, exercising "good" politics allows you to properly and responsibly advance your and your team's interests. Also, being aware of "bad" politics around you might assist you to avoid suffering unnecessarily while others profit. Now that you've realised it's difficult to ignore politics from a psychological standpoint, you must take action to morally flip the tables in your favour.