Office politics. You’ve heard the term, but do you know what it really means? Office politics use social networking or power to create change in the office that benefits the company or certain individuals. If you work in an office, you’ve probably come to assume these politics are a fact of life. In any company with more than two people, situations will periodically arise in which someone feels left out. If you’ve ever experienced this feeling as a result of office politics, you may have a negative opinion of them and simply wish to avoid them altogether. This, however, may be a bad idea.
Louellen Essex, co-author of “Manager’s Desktop Consultant: Just-in-Time Solutions to the Top People Problems That Keep You Up at Night,” tells CNN that removing yourself from office politics may cause your talent to be ignored or go unseen. You may also feel out of the loop and find your path to career success limited.
Not all office politics are bad
We often perceive office politics negatively, and sometimes we even consider the people involved to be slick and generally shifty characters. There are instances, however, when the presence of office politics can actually be beneficial to a company. This assumes, of course, that the politics benefit the company and build better intra-office relationships. Positive office politics may involve creating a new product or process, and they should involve members of the company at all levels working to create a scenario in which everyone is seen as the victor, not just a select few.
Office politics to avoid
Bad office politics are simply the opposite of the positive politics outlined above, meaning they put the benefits of a few, select individuals above the rest of the team or company. Many of us can think of an example of bad office politics in our own workplace where only a select few benefited. Perhaps the politics resulted in an undue promotion, termination, or additional funding to one department or another. These politics not only sow dissention in the workplace, but they are also a waste of company time, as individuals become more focused on how to get themselves ahead instead of how to advance the company’s goals.
How to make sure your office politics are good office politics
Because ignoring office politics could jeopardize your career growth, you really cannot afford to ignore them. Instead, try to make all of your experiences with office politics as positive as possible. Focus on goals that better the team and the company, not just yourself or a select group of people. Consider what’s in it for everyone involved and how your actions will create a win for everyone. Finally, don’t exclude people. If what you’re doing is truly positive for everyone, share it. The more help you receive, the better the project and the politics will be.