While office politics is often a source of stress and conflict in the workplace, there’s simply no escaping it. Rather than try to eliminate office politics, the goal should be to use politics and work relationships to your advantage.
The dictionary defines politics as “the art or science of government.” Think of workplace politics as the governing of individuals and groups within the organization. The practices and policies of the group will determine whether work is enjoyable and effective or stressful and unproductive.
By embracing office politics, you will be able to attract and retain top talent for your organization and improve the work experience for everyone involved. Work with the certified HR experts at Resourcing Edge for personalized human capital solutions.
Office Politics Can Be Good or Bad
Many people think of office politics as competition between individuals or groups for power and advancement, often characterized by sneaky, manipulative, and dishonest practices. There’s a reason why people refer to work as a “rat race” or “climbing the corporate ladder.” Work success is often seen as a competitive struggle for power.
The very word “politics” elicits a range of negative responses. What do you think of when you hear the word “politics”? If backdoor dealings, corruption, and personal attacks come to mind, you’re not alone.
It is this idea of manipulation and fierce competition that makes “office politics” seem like a bad word. But as much as we may want to avoid politics altogether, it’s just not going to happen. We can, however, make our politics a lot better. For instance, we can instill a politics of fairness, courtesy, and acting in the best interest of the group.
Organizational politics can be good or bad, resulting in positive or negative work outcomes. Some of the harmful outcomes of bad politics include low job satisfaction and organizational commitment, high turnover, negligent behavior, negative feeling toward others, poor job performance, stress, and anxiety. Prospective candidates can easily get turned off.
Good workplace politics, on the other hand, leads to higher job satisfaction and organizational commitment, lower turnover, career advancement opportunities, personal feelings of accomplishment, enhanced sense of control, and job success.
How to Promote Good Office Politics
There are two cultures at every organization. The stated one that you see reflected in core value bullet points, about pages, and employee handbooks. Then, there’s the real culture, which is how people interact and work with each other on a daily basis.
When office politics is leading to negative outcomes, here are some tips for changing the atmosphere:
- Understand your workplace culture and try to improve it.
- As much as possible, match your stated work culture with your actual culture. You may need to revise your stated culture, especially if things have changed.
- Foster strong relationships at work.
- Train managers on leadership skills and how to maintain a positive attitude at work.
- Recognize and adapt to different employee personalities, strengths and weaknesses.
- Create a plan for managing conflicts constructively.
- Learn how to conduct difficult conversations with employees.
- Root out the source of the problem, such as jealousy, workload, or fear of retribution, and address the matter head-on. Work with an experienced HR professional to help address conflicts in the workplace.
- Always treat others with respect and stay positive.
- Stick with the ground rules laid out in the employee handbook and be consistent.
- Build good politics by focusing on business goals and looking out for everyone’s best interest. Playing office politics can be a win-win situation.
Looking for more ways to accelerate your business? Speak with the experts at Resourcing Edge for more information on promoting good politics and culture at work, such as conflict resolution consulting. Our team of certified HR experts can help you with customized solutions for all your human capital needs.