Many of us have at some point in our careers found ourselves in some awkward situations at work I’m sure. Some of the situations are or were so deep-rooted some lost their jobs or were overlooked when it was promotion time because of office politics. An American Executive, Chris Chancey. speaking to the Business News Daily defines office politics as:
Workplace politics are the manifestation of power dynamics among co-workers. People leverage these power dynamics to further their own interests or that of a group they are affiliated with. Such behavior is inevitable, given that human beings are naturally political and will do whatever it takes to protect their own interests.
A good example of office politics is when a group of workers form a hostile alliance against their co-workers in a workplace. What are the dangers of office politics and why management should work hard to thwart office politics in an organisation? Because workplace politics
- Can be divisive
- Can be disruptive
- Can create a hostile or tense environment
- Might damage employee morale
- Might lead to outcomes like lawsuits or financial ramifications
Is it possible to avoid office politics?, well in the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe, a common phrase is often heard especially among Twimbos (Zimbabweans on Twitter) and it says “Even if you don’t do politics, politics will still do you” This simply means even if you try by all means to avoid Zimbabwean politics, some decisions made in politics will still affect or frustrate you. Are Twimbos right? Yes. sometimes even if you voluntarily stay away from office politics, office politics will still yank you out from whatever place you are hiding and affect you and how you want your work-life to be.
So is it possible to avoid office politics, well I so wish to say no, because some manifestations of these power dynamics are beyond your control, but the truth is, it’s possible to avoid workplace politics. In case you are dying to create a safe impenetrable bubble around you at your workplace free of workplace politics, consider doing these three things.
- Do not take sides. In some situations, you might be prompted to side with your friends, the underdog or even the side you feel is right. Bear in mind even if you are backing the right side, it might end up being detrimental so the safest bet is to stay away completely.
- Openly and effectively communicate. Communication is one of the biggest causes of workplace politics. We have all heard, that it is better to over-communicate at times. By over-communicating, you are making your views, ideas, and side known. Everyone will know where you stand on the issues at hand. This will lead to others knowing and granting feedback better and keeping the lines of communication open.
- Do not fuel the fire. When I say do not take sides, it also means do not add fuel to the fire from outside. Taking any part in the power dynamics at play, spreading rumours, commenting on something and doing something that will contribute negatively to the hostile camps at the workplace will not be good for you at any level in office politics.