We have all been employed at some point of time and many of us still are, therefore all of us would have experienced firsthand office politics happening around us.
Office politics has always existed ever since the concept of office started and in that sense has been a part and parcel of the working system. Coping with office politics requires first to recognise its existence in all its forms and then work out a strategy to try and stay clear of it without affecting relationships around us. Typical issues in the office include:
A peer being close to the boss
Don’t we all face this peculiar yet unpleasant situation where we feel anger with a tinge of jealousy and envy when one of our colleagues is being favoured by the boss? We notice how the colleague goes out of the way in agreeing with everything that the boss says even when it is obvious to all that it is a bad decision. But we remain a mute and helpless spectator like all our other colleagues keeping our frustration within us.
It helps when we have a collective sense of being the victim; at least we get another shoulder to cry on! But what happens when we stand isolated in silent protest, forcefully gulping down our own humiliation at being sidelined in favour of one ‘select’ colleague? It feels like the end of the earth, with nowhere else to go and nothing beyond!
Being left out in promotion
It’s an awful moment when we discover that ‘I’ am the only one who is not being promoted when I strongly believe that my case was stronger than the person or persons who eventually made the cut. Don’t we all go through that terrible feeling of humiliation, dejection, rejection, frustration and complete helplessness? Many of us would have been through it all at some point in time in our careers.
A colleague is given a responsibility to organise an event
When a colleague is preferred over you for organising an event, however, small, it’s a lousy feeling. Not only do we feel anger bordering on hatred against the colleague for wrangling up to the boss to get the task, we also develop anger against the boss for giving in to politics. Think you can identify an incident when this happened with you? Don’t worry you are not alone. We have all been through similar situations in our careers.
A ‘special’ female colleague responding to all the attention from a select colleague
The office is a colorful place, at least in many cases, where the arrival of a new female colleague gets her special attention from most male colleagues. But when she responds to just one ‘select’ colleague, and if that’s not you, then its office politics all over again! Life is so full of injustice!
Fighting for a sanction
Very often it is our team versus their team within the same group, when we fight over sanction of funds for a particular project or event, and if one team or individual gets the green signal, then it could well be the result of office politics in play. Something as petty as getting the official car for use can be the cause or result of office politics.
Don’t we see instances of us vs. them when it comes to other departments? In IT companies it is Team A racing against Team B to complete a particular project and this ‘competition’ often ends up being a victim to office politics. And many times, the heads of each project get involved and there starts another round of office politics of one-upmanship.
So how can one deal with and survive in office politics?
It’s a skill and art to avoid this minefield. Look at the office like a jungle where survival of the fittest is the first rule! So make sure you remain healthy and stealthy if you have to avoid the dangerous maze of intrigue, suspense, betrayal and competition for attention.
Rule No 1.
Remember you have been selected into the company because of your skill sets and the fact that the company believes that you can add value to it. If that’s the case, then you must first start believing in ‘yourself’ before you can expect anyone else, your boss, your peers, or your juniors to believe in you.
Rule No 2.
Focus on your own work and targets rather than worry what your peers are doing. The first signs of frustration show up when you start worrying about what the other person is doing, achieving or not achieving.
Rule No 3.
Your boss is not your enemy. He has a task to do and he needs your support to do it. If you fulfill his expectation of work quality and within stated cost and timelines, then you do not have to worry. In time, you will get your due. Sometimes, it’s possible that you may not get recognized, but the reasons are not always your boss or one of your colleagues who you may believe is working against you.
Rule No 4.
You are part of a team and when teams start to work together, cooperating and collaborating towards a common goal, it always works best for the company. You must believe in your contribution while accepting and respecting other colleague’s contribution. It’s when we start believing otherwise that we start becoming a part of the problem rather than the solution.
Rule No 5.
Don’t work for money. Yes, we all need money to survive to meet our expenses and desires but that must not be your objective. You must work for certain career goals that are important to you and those goals must have a time target. Any goal that you set must have clearly defined milestones that need to be achieved before you reach your final goal. Stay focused on your overall career goal and you won’t need to worry about what anyone else is doing or achieving.
When in doubt, read Rule No 1. Believe in yourself and your ability to complete successfully whatever you have undertaken. It is that belief that will keep you insulated from all the negativity that you believe exists in office.
Rule No 6.
Everyone is human even your boss. He may make a mistake or he may favour someone, but in the end, merit almost always wins. If you feel a career threat from someone, just be patient and persevere and continue what you are doing to the best of your ability. Remember, there are two ways of winning. Either you perform better than your rival or you wait for him to make a mistake. In either case, you will get ahead in the long term. But the secret is to believe in your own ability rather that feel a threat from someone else; office politics notwithstanding.
Looking forward to getting back to office tomorrow?