A guest blog written by my lovely friend and colleague from Voice at the Table Karin Mueller who runs Liebfrog Coaching.
Whenever I speak to people about office politics, I hear the same story: politics is distracting us from getting real work done, it leads to the wrong people getting promoted, it leads to toxic work environments and impacts on the well being of staff. “I try to stay out of it” is what people usually say.
It’s true: office politics exists in every organisation – and has all those detrimental effects described. They can be frustrating and demoralising. Just imagine what would happen if for just one week people could set aside personal agendas and focus exclusively on what’s good for the organisation. Unrealistic though, for as long as there are people, there is politics.
Staying out of it is therefore unwise. Understanding your organisation’s political landscape, the unwritten rules and the people you are dealing with is crucial if you don’t want to be left behind or worse, end up as collateral damage. Who’s driving which organisational agenda? Who are their allies? Enemies? What personal agendas are in play? What happens when priorities clash? How do conflicts of interests get resolved? And most importantly, where do you fit into all of this? These questions are a good starting point when you find yourself in a politically charged environment.
And what if by playing the political game you can actually add real value?
I know only one person who has truly mastered the art of politics and can navigate varied stakeholder interests to come up with solutions that work for everyone involved, as well as the organisation. Her secret? A brilliant networker, she takes the time to fully understand what’s really important to people. These insights, paired with absolute trustworthiness and integrity, have earned her the reputation of being a trusted diplomat and reliable problem solver. She has what Germans call Fingerspitzengefühl, the ability to manage very touchy issues effectively with sensitivity, sincerity, wisdom and tact.
Office politics will always will be with us. So rather than letting it frustrate you, try to see it as an intriguing game, and focus on how you can take part – constructively.
Karin is a certified executive development coach and the founder director of Liebfrog Coaching.
Having worked in the corporate world for 16 years she brings a wealth of business and personal experience to her coaching practice.
With an empathetic and pragmatic coaching style, she empowers clients to develop new skills and habits that help them to be more resourceful and reach their goals.
Based in London, she coaches in English and German.
Click here to find out more about the work Joanna does with groups and individuals on developing their political intelligence for more positive office politics resulting in greater career success and improved business performance.