How to Keep Your Balance Amid Office Politics
If you believe office politics are a drag and you would rather see the quality of the work lead the office flow, you are not alone. I have heard many people complain about office politics, but none of them were able to suggest a way to eliminate it. Usually, it just becomes weed like, always resurfacing.
I worked in a number of advertising groups where office politics was less powerful. In those groups, creativity was the big winner and coming up with great ideas meant a lot more than knowing how to play office politics. Those were fun jobs and a fun way to work.
Later, I found myself working in a huge academic organization where everyone seemed to be a card carrying office politics player! At first I was stunned, but gradually it became amusing and one of my friends, who had worked there for years, said it almost becomes reflexive if you stay long enough.
As I followed my friend’s lead, I learned to see the subtext in email’s and bulletins, watch for quick connections and eye contacts in meetings, and remember who supported whom in the last go-round. Sometimes all of that was funny as it became more quickly readable. It really was an ongoing game. But my friend’s observation that it could become reflexive may be the most important thing to learn. You don’t have to love and support office politics, you just need to recognize it when you see it and know what to do when it shows up.
Dr. Travis Bradberry had some advice on that on BBC.com. He tells us to stop wishing it would go away and learn how to thrive in its midst. Win by playing smart and knowing when and how it’s worth getting involved. Figure out who connects with whom, at lunch and in meetings, and know who is always fully informed.Then build overarching connections letting everyone know they can count on you. That straight ahead approach can help a lot. Finally Bradberry tells us to keep our eye on the real goals of career and job fulfillment, not getting drawn into the petty underlayers of gossip, payback or manipulation.
Instead, look for common goals with individuals and stick to content when decisions are being made.
By not being drawn into smaller petty issues, but still being aware of the overall playing field, you could be lucky enough to spend most of your time concentrating on your work. Often you will find others who feel the same way, who will pull together to keep things workable.