Love it or hate it, office politics are rife within every organisation. And, it’s easy to see why.
First of all you’ve got a diverse range of colourful characters all trying to work together under one roof. Then you’ve got a whole raft of rules, regulations, policies and procedures to abide by. Then you’ve got a few larger-than-life egos, competitive spirits, passionate personalities and hectic schedules to add to the equation.
And, hey presto, you’ve got yourself a political minefield!
That’s why it’s imperative, as a leader, that you know exactly how to navigate your way round organisational politics.
Here are some of my tips for staying afloat.
#1 – be aware of the company’s processes and procedure
Don’t just assume that ‘someone else’ makes all the important decisions. It doesn’t always work that way. So, instead of being presumptuous, it’s much more worthwhile to discover where different decisions are made (such as procurement, for example) and understand the decision-making process. Finding out the facts avoids unsubstantiated claims that can often escalate into an unnecessary drama.
#2 – don’t stay cocooned in your own department
Finding out what goes on elsewhere in the organisation can often be fruitful. Stretching your internal communication channels far and wide, and building strong relationships in other areas within the organisation, can lay the foundations for you to reap future and long-term rewards.
#3 – transparency is tantamount to trust
Creating transparency and an open and honest working environment encourages trust. And establishing trust and respect is a good way of steering clear of organisational politics. Being transparent means that others will see you have nothing to hide and you’re not driven by ulterior motives. So, the chances are, any potential political climbers will steer clear of you.
#4 – leave your ego at home
It’s important to be responsive to organisational politics if it impacts on you and/or your team directly. But, as leaders, we must all be wary of reacting to politically-fuelled situations. The workplace is filled with egos, some are ruthlessly scaling their way to the top by any means possible, and others are frozen into procrastination. So, In order to show integrity, mindfulness and calmness, leave your ego at home, take time to respond and don’t coerced into a quick, thoughtless reaction.
#5 – use your eyes and ears
Observing how people operate, knowing their cliques and keeping an eye on the competitive egos are all essential navigational tools. Influencing people behind the scenes also helps in your quest to become politically savvy. Good observation skills enable you to be one step ahead of any resistance. And as a result, it can make sure you don’t get embroiled in any low-grade dramas.
Navigating your way around the politics of an organisation isn’t always easy. It’s all the more pressured in a leadership role because your reactions will be observed. So, it’s important that you recognise these politics for what they really are and that you respond to them with veracity. And if you do, then hopefully, it should be all plain-sailing from thereon in.
photo credit: Keith Bacongco