Office Politics

Posted in Communication, Organisational Culture, Strategies on April 11, 2013 by MD OBSERVER

Recently I had a nice chat with a couple of newly appointed managers at Royal Bank of Canada on ‘Office Politics’ and that gave me the idea for this issue.

Before everything what is “Office Politics”? Well, every Executive Coach / Consultant might define it differently, but in my view Office Politics can be interpreted as Careful strategies that staff implement in order to gain advantage in their office!  Such strategies might be justified for personal gains or for a cause they believe in. Yes, it has negative connotation and it is often dubbed as taking advantage at the expenses of others and it certainly affects the workplace, environment and relations.

Is there such a thing as “good” Office Politics? Affirmative. Good Office Politics help you to gain promotion, gather support and get your cause realized. Good Office Politics can be called ‘networking’ and ‘managing influences’. Since such office strategy  is generally considered a negative play, staff tend to avoid it; however,  to secure success for projects, eventually one would need to find the safest way to navigate through this highly sensitive aspect of career.

If you reject Office Politics and constantly deny it, you may badly suffer, simply because others take unfair advantage of it, and if you do not learn how to practice “good” Office Politics, you might miss opportunities. So, here there are certain highlights that you should remember, learn and practice:

A) Office Politics are inevitable and can be found in any organisation regardless their size or form, private or governmental, profit or nonprofit.

B) Gaining profit, Promotion, Superiority create competition; therefore, where there is a competition, there is a need for Office Politics.

C) Resources and opportunities are not endless and often staff experience conflict in attaining and maintaining resources and their competitiveness.

Now in order to have Office Politics work for you, you need to :

1. Be a good observer and gather information to build up a proper network for yourself;

2. Study the organisational chart carefully and analyze it in practice.  In the chart of hierarchy, the person who is on the top  may not be the most influential one;

3. Pinpoint those who are truly influential, who have authority but not applying it, who are coaching and mentoring others,  and who are the brain and strategists of your organisation;

4. Understand who gets along with who, who is suffering from conflict, who is hard to please and who is easy to get on;

5. Know what fundamental factors make interrelations work or not work, what influence relations and friendship;

6. Know what the manipulative factors are, and what people see as ‘respect’.

Once you accepted A, B, C and studied 1 to 6 above, it is time to develop yourself in  Good Office Politics:

  • True powerful people are not necessarily those with highest income, who are on the top of your organisational hierarchy  with fancy titles. Do not be reluctant nor afraid of approaching those you have learnt are powerful. Approach them, get to know them better, try to be associated with them.
  • Make sure your relations and strategies do not cross over your formal line of hierarchy and that they do not shortcut your immediate supervisor, other executives or even peers.
  • Form your relations based on trust and not based on kissing up to others. And don’t forget, “Trust is givable”. 
  • Be part of several networks such as other departments, affiliated companies, suppliers and providers. This shall give you a greater and wider vision on your organisation, its system and / or its market place.
  • Avoid making or extending gossips. Be a good listener, but do not take an active role in gossips! 

Never forget: “first we try, then we trust”. Unless you do not try and trust, nobody will do that for you. Gaining others’ trust and your projection of genuine good intentions are the key elements in playing  “Good” Office Politics.