Say 'no' to politics at the workplace

DIVIDE AND RULE

Say 'no' to politics at the workplace


Maintaining a cordial work atmosphere is beneficial for the management as well as the employees“People, even if they figured out what the politics game is, they avoid it and thats the worst thing you can do. It will catch up to you, and it will bite you in the rear.” Marlyn Puder-York

Today the fastest growing organisations face the ill effects of in-house politics that creates unproductive behavior at work, leading to a decline in the performance levels of employees. Workplace politics promote insincerity, rumours, double standards, vested interests, image building, self-promotion, favoritism and groups that are not for effective teamwork. At a time when we talk about recession, stress, turnover of employees is persisting; we are just adding to the negative environment by workplace politics.

Surviving in the workplace with unbending competition around to get to the top is like battling for existence. We have sharks in the form of colleagues who just wait for an opportunity to swallow us. A Senior Vice-President of a company told me that office politics are turning out to be worse these days with no limit to what is being brewed or churned in the informal circles of a formal environment.

All the workplaces today confront this issue of office politics. “Eighteen per cent of an administrator’s time — more than nine weeks out of every year — is spent resolving conflicts among employees” according to  ‘Surviving Office Politics—Talent Scout’.
Office politics does not cause problems alone for the people who work together. It also brings in disastrous effects which include quality time in work being lost by loss of  concentration.

But we need to accept that we are a party to it. We consider either fight or flight as a response to the situation in the workplace. Fighting would make things worse and the second response of moving to a better workplace for the sake of office politics is not the solution as it exists everywhere, be it in the present company or in a new one but the degree may vary. Wherever we work we should be aware that office politics indirectly leads to all kind of losses including financial. Unless the employee introspects that the real need of him/her being in the company is not to destroy the values, office politics cannot be eradicated. Asking oneself questions such as:

*Am I aware of the vision of the organisation?
*Can I be part of that vision?
*Are my values synchronising with the values of the company and
*Does the environment encourage honesty and openness?

Office politics could lead to serious implications if not checked at the right time. This is a major cause for stress among employees. Remember workplace politics is churned by people who do not have any work to do.

Apart from this, superiors resorting to the ‘blame game’ when something goes topsy-turvy also adds to demotivation in employees. This is another major cause for churning politics at the work place. People pointing fingers at others for the mistakes done by them is frequently witnessed in all organisations. Workplace politics is a tool for them to divert attention. The person who actually takes the brunt is well remembered and becomes the subject of discussion. Office politics creeps in here thereby harming good interpersonal relationships, bringing down productivity. Top executives kindle politics to camouflage their mistakes.

The senior executives are either threatened by the smart subordinates or to keep their face covered from the wrath of management resort to politicising small issues—what we call blowing out of proportion.

Some organisations have bandicoots in the form of people to enjoy life at work. An employee in a marketing firm asked me what he should be doing about his manager who whiles away his time. He described that his boss was lazy, rarely picks up calls, is paid very well, comes late and disappears early and above all uses bad language. I told him there are such cases in many organisations of which the top management is not aware. These people who misbehave have studied the environment and have taken things for granted. Handling this person would be really difficult. The options available would be to report to a senior manager or to confront the boss. But by the second option the boss would back fire and resort to ways that would harm the employee. If the senior manager could be relied upon, it’s advisable to approve him.

The ultimate option would be to leave the job. Yes, how many jobs are we going to leave if all the people we find are this way? Office politics also require us act in a tactful manner.

1. Avoid gossip and ignore people who spread them. Do not listen to the rumours spread. 

2. Think before you speak. If you are not sure of something, avoid speaking on that issue or even giving personal opinions.

3. Maintaining integrity and positivity at workplace will pave way to nurture a clean environment. In the longer run backstabbers would flee away from a workplace that preserves honesty and well established values.

4. Accept suggestions and recommendations based on knowledge and experience instead of supporting the ideas of favorites at workplace. This will show that you are not biased and do not take sides.

5. As great thinkers have said, do not get personal. Never discuss your personal life, health problems and financial situation at the workplace.

6. Try to empathise with people instead of pushing things. Understand others just as the way you want them to understand you. Do not wait for an opportunity to make confidential things public. You are a performer only when you have overcome workplace politics by spreading positivity in the environment.

Instead of blaming the system and people around, we should focus on creating the most challenging and competitive work environment that nurtures talent.

The writer is Director-PG Department of Management Studies Adarsh Institute of Management and Information Technology (AIMIT), Bangalore

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