Published by Jim Woods, President of InnoThink Group Consulting
Let’s be honest. Office politics exist. The surest way to succeed is to learn to play them. I frequently hear friends and clients lament, “Why can’t we all just get along?” You can. Just that getting along” is different of each of us. Political drama, turf wars, personality clashes and hidden agendas demands you can’t tuck your head down.
Asked by a colleague to write an article on the prevalence of office politics in a client’s firm Cheryl Conner in Forbes writes, “Still, as a culture, I hated it. Interestingly, from the writings and reports of others I can see I’m far from alone.
She continues, “Yet, according to U.S. workers, office politics is with us to stay. A study of 400 U.S. workers from staffing firm Robert Half International says that nearly 60 percent of workers believe that involvement in office politics is at least somewhat necessary to get ahead. There is at least some degree of politics at play in virtually every organization, Robert Half International’s Chairman and CEO Max Messmer reports.”
One of the common response to assertions to office politics one hears the oft repeated, ““You don’t like it because you’re not good at it. So you’ve made it out to be ‘wrong.’”
Success doesn’t imply you have to be a “brown noser” pardon the expression. Lawrence Cheok in Life Hacks observes ,”There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics.”
The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers. Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.
Strangely office politics are really a matter of self-awareness more o than behavioral traits of others. Generally how we react to conditions in large measure a result of our personal biases. Meaning, things aren’t always as they appear.
Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…
We are all territorial with our workspace and ideas. With an over abundance of unemployed workers available protective silos are perhaps more rampant.
When conflicts happens, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.
The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins. It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.
Jim Woods is a leadership development and training consultant deploying his unique abilities in character based training and strategy. Click here to schedule an appointment.
Jim is president of InnoThink Group a human resources and leadership management consulting firm | Skype ID – jim.woods79 http://www.innothinkgroup.com Click here to schedule an appointment.m. He has an absolute passion for people development and are constantly refining and adapting his programs in order to ensure that they have the maximum impact on those we serve.