Office Politics and Its Effect in The Workplace (Part Two)

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To nip behaviours with political nuances in the bud, Sosnowski suggested coming up with a set of organisation values; like transparency, impact and communication; and then hiring employees who embody those values.

Additionally, he argues that it is extremely important to create and adhere to clear organisational policies for bonuses, promotions, reprimands applicable across the board.

According to Sosnowski:[1]

“Let your employees know what their options are, what is achievable for them and how to get there. Establish clear paths they should take to achieve their goals. Teach the employees the ways to build healthy relationships and how to respect others and be respected. Once positive behaviours are encouraged and fair solutions provided, employees should not feel the need to engage in competitive or unfair practices.”

Eradicating Politics in the Workplace

Minimising politics in a growing organisation begins with its leadership, and the best way to accomplish this goal is to encourage transparency and collaboration among team members at all levels. It is important to take the following steps to break down the divisive walls of negative politics in the workplace:

a.  Reduce distance from Organisation’s Decisions

As small organisations grow and add more structure, policies, and management layers, the average employee naturally becomes further removed from leadership on a day-to-day basis. The Management team needs to be mindful that this distance from the organisation’s decisions is a key factor in politics, infiltrating even the most successful organisations.

Promote communication and transparency among teams and team members by holding regular meetings, town halls and group lunches. Make sure everyone knows what the corporate objectives are and talk openly and honestly about the challenges the organisation is facing. Trust all employees (not just executives and supervisors) with information and make them stakeholders in the success of the organisation. When leaders trust their team and empower them with insights into organisation challenges, the team can take an active part in conquering those challenges.

b.  Do not Tolerate Negative Political Behaviours 

Everyone’s success should be measured, first and foremost, by the overall organisation’s objectives. When the hint of “me first” behaviour crops up in a meeting or email, ensure it gets squashed swiftly. The pushing of personal agendas, no matter who participates in it or at what level of the organisation, should not be condoned. If leadership accepts limiting political or bureaucratic behaviour, it is an invitation for it to run rampant within the organisation.

c.  Demand Accountability from Everyone

Each employee should understand their role and how it contributes to the success of the organisation, and then be expected to deliver. When the organisation has a big success or reaches a milestone, it should be recognised both as a team win and a celebration of the success of those whose work contributed to it at all levels of the organisation, not just the executives.

Likewise, when a mistake or failure occurs, those who contributed to it should be expected to take ownership for their roles (including members of the management team) so that the mistake can be fixed and not occur again. When employees are willing to be praised for the wins but afraid to take responsibility for the losses, it shows they are more interested in their own success than the organisation’s success.

No matter how committed a leader is, the work environment cannot be completely depoliticised.

However, executives that make a concerted effort to be more accessible and transparent can effectively reduce the impact that politics will have as an obstacle to the organisation’s success. 

How to Navigate Office Politics No Matter Where You Work

No matter what your position is in the office, nobody can avoid corporate politics. They are a fact of life. You may find the concept intimidating. But learning how to navigate office politics can help you maintain some measure of personal power.

Business politics are largely centered on social dynamics. It helps us to understand:

  • How you interact with others;
  • Who you interact with; and
  • When to pick your battles

Whether you enjoy partaking in office politics or not, they are an inescapable part of work. Even though they can take on a life of their own if left unmanaged, they do not have to be negative. The flow of information, power, and influence in the workplace can be put to good use, to benefit yourself and others, and advance the aspirations of the group.

Recommendation

a.  Understand formal and informal networks

There are two main network subdivisions in business politics: formal and informal.

The formal network refers to the job title or official position of authority.

The informal network is the subtle but relevant positions of power employees may hold behind the scenes.

Understanding both will help you learn how to handle each network.

b.  Build positive work relationships

It is much easier to cope with corporate politics when you have strong, positive relationships with those around you. Loyalty and friendship can bring meaningful benefits in a business environment.

In the game of social politics, you want to build up a support network that benefits both yourself and others within it. That way, you can relax in the knowledge that you have social strings to harness if you find yourself in a rut.

c.  Keep it professional

It is important to be friendly with your colleagues to build a sense of belonging at work. But there is a thin line between being sociable and oversharing. Giving away too much information about yourself may cause others to use it against you in the future.

Unless you have good reasons, try to maintain a friendly but professional stance at work. Setting boundaries with your colleagues creates clear work structures. It also prevents your colleagues from taking advantage of you.

d.  Develop your soft skills

Soft skills are essentially appealing social skills. Things like listening well, being a team player, and communicating in a healthy way are all important skills to have in the workplace.

Upskilling yourself with emotional intelligence and other interpersonal skills will enable you to navigate your way around office politics with more savvy.[2]

e.  Speak up for yourself

It can be difficult to be brave and make your voice heard in group settings, but knowing when and how to stand up for yourself is an excellent skill to have.

Speaking up when you or someone you know is being unfairly treated will show your strength. In addition, it will give office bullies less inclination to pick on you.

f.  Maintain a Positive Outlook

Everyone has bad days, but nobody likes an office downer. Working long hours can be exhausting; both mentally and physically but complaining about your problems in a non-constructive way can be distracting for others.

Maintaining a positive disposition in the workplace could increase your likeability. It will also make it easier for you to collaborate with colleagues.

Conclusion

Whether we like it or not, office politics is unavoidable! As managers and administrators, the proper direction is to minimize the negative politicking and enhance the positive attributes of a healthy and fulfilling workplace for your staff whilst facilitating the attainment of the goals and objectives of the business as a going concern.

______________________________________________________________

For further information on this article and area of law, please contact:

Rafat Dada at S. P.A. Ajibade & Co., Lagos

By telephone (+234 1 472 9890), fax (+234 1 4605092)

Mobile (+234 8150882798, 08023433794) or

E-mail (rdada@spaajibade.com).

www.spaajibade.com

______________________________________________________________

[1]     Sosnowski, Business News Daily, available at: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6374-fix-workplace-politics.html, accessed 24th March 2022.

[2] See, Temitope Fadare, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, available at: EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN THE WORKPLACE – S.P.A. Ajibade & Co. Resources (spaajibade.com), accessed 4th April 2022.

 

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