What is office politics? This question can have a range of answers which all often come with a sigh and a resigned look. The fact is politics happens in most organisations, that’s because there are people working in organisations who have different motivations, perceptions, values and resulting behaviours. The problem comes when ‘office politics’ is so negative that it stands in the way of decision making, productivity, trust and ultimately business performance and individual career progression.
So which of the following definitions resonates most with you? Any of them?
The covert, rather than the overt, way of getting things done.
Results achieved through the informal, as well as the formal channels.
The achievement of organisational and/or personal goals by using appropriate skills and strategies.
Your answer probably depends on your experience of ‘office politics’ and your interpretation of some of the words above.
Another that I think sums it up well is:
Politics is not what I do……it’s why you think I am doing it!
This is because of the perception piece. Consider for a moment that when you approach the coffee machine at work, 2 of your colleagues are talking, yet stop when they see you. Why is this? There are at least 5 different answers, most of them negative, but not all. Does it not depend on your reading of the situation, the day you are having, your relationship with each of the people, your last encounter with each of them?
Frequently, we think others are being political and they think we are too!
To help you think about this important topic in more detail – about how you perceive others and how you may be being perceived, listen to my webinar on the topic – more details here.
Growing your knowledge on this topic will definitely affect your degree of career success and the performance of your organisation.