Office politics – good or bad?

Office politics are often thought of as a bad thing. It’s something that can be viewed as ruthless and competitive employees indulge in to get ahead at other people’s expense. They’re basically impossible to avoid, but are office politics really just a necessary evil or could you benefit from them?

What are office politics?

Office politics is all about the interactions and, critically, the differences between people in a workplace. It is all about the way that power and status is distributed among employees, and the behaviours that help employees to gain this status.

Office politics often have negative connotations because they can involve behaviours such as workplace gossip, bullying, and manipulation as a way to get ahead of the competition. However, it also involves more neutral or even positive behaviours such as networking and forming interpersonal relationships with others in the workplace.

Call it something else?

But how about reframing office politics – to savvy networking, effectively managing your stakeholders internally, building relationships – why does it have to have a negative connotation? This skillset of networking, building relationships- when done in a healthy way – where both parties benefit – can make or break careers – especially in today’s often ‘networked’ organisations.

How to gain from office politics

Some people think that you should stay as far away as possible from office politics, but it is often an unavoidable phenomenon and one that can really benefit your career. Here are a few ways office politics can help you:

  • Motivation – In a competitive, political environment where everyone’s trying to get ahead, there’s plenty of motivation to try your hardest in order to stay competitive yourself. This can help you to better yourself and your career. If you’re the boss, then you benefit from a more motivated and efficient workforce.
  • Acknowledgement – If you involve yourself effectively in office politics then you are likely to be more visible among your superiors, making it more likely that you’ll get the deserved acknowledgement and reward for a job well done.
  • Promotion – Whether you agree with it or not, those who partake in office politics are more likely to win an available promotion. Should your hard work be enough to get you ahead? Maybe, but personality and various other factors also play a part in who is hired, fired, or promoted in the workplace. One of these factors is often the ability to build solid relationships.

It’s time to stop avoiding office politics and get in the know about them. If you need any advice on navigating and benefiting from office politics, then contact me for more advice and coaching.

And let’s call it networking and internal stakeholder management instead!