If you know me or have coached with me, you’ve probably heard me talk about the importance of focusing on what’s within your control and how to best leverage it to get the results you want. Well workplace politics is no different.
What Are Workplace Politics?
According to Wikipedia, workplace politics is the process and behavior within human interactions involving power and authority. It’s about using power and networking within the workplace to achieve changes that benefit the organization or the individuals within it.
Why Do Workplace Politics Exist?
Simply put, because we’re all human, and as humans, we all have different needs, ambitions, insecurities, and desires — and whether we recognize it or not, we all bring these to work with us every day – and it’s these differences that drive organizational politics.
How Can We Manage Workplace Politics?
Tip #1 – Start Rethinking How You View Workplace Politics
We do have control over how we think and view workplace politics. Most of us think and view them as a necessary evil. Try to start thinking of them a nothing more than a natural result of us being human. Think of them as a gift; a gift in that we get to bring our whole selves to work every day and this is something to be grateful for.
Tip #2 – Look Inward and Reflect Outward
Another thing we have control over is the degree to which we understand and are aware of our own needs, ambitions, insecurities and desires and how these things drive our own motivations and behaviors.
For example, if you are motivated to be promoted or to be seen as an influencer, you might proactively schedule networking time with others in the company who can help you get promoted or assist you in increasing your visibility. And while this might be a great strategy for you, remember others may notice it and assume you are “playing politics” and while that’s absolutely ok, it’s important to recognize the impact your behaviors have on others – and again, this is within your control to do.
Tip #3 – Look Outward and Reflect Inward
We also have it within our control to recognize the needs, ambitions, insecurities and desires of others – especially when they differ from our own – as this is when we’re most likely to perceive other’s “playing politics”.
The best way to start doing this is to start really observing the other key players and stakeholders within your organization and spend time thinking about their behaviors and what they suggest about the person’s needs, insecurities, desires or ambitions.
Then write them down! Get a journal and write them down, and alongside each of them, jot down that it’s okay for people to exhibit these behaviors and have needs, motivations and desires that might be different from your own.
Getting this on paper will help you reduce your judgment of them which will greatly reduce any frustration you have around workplace politics and instead allow you to stay focused on your and the organization’s goals.
Taking advantage of the things within your control will help you start to get the outcomes you want without feeling like you’re “playing politics” or being inauthentic to yourself because you’re not “playing politics”.
If you’d like to talk more and explore this issue further, email me at: [email protected] and we’ll schedule a time to connect.