Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand: The Inevitability of Office Politics
No matter where you work—unless you happen to be a company of one—there’s going to be office politics.
Big or small, every organisation deals with the reality that gossiping happens every day. It might take the form of Instant Messaging, texts or social media snubs these days, but you can’t avoid the fact that people talk.
Are office politics unavoidable? The resounding answer is yes.
We’re social creatures by nature—there’s going to be talk about a work issue, an awkward moment in a meeting or if John and Mary are into each other.
And don’t forget when you walk into the door of your office everyday, you drag along all your emotional baggage, whether it’s good or bad. Did you and your spouse exchange words this morning? Was your child particularly difficult to get out the door today? Do you have a sick family member you’re worried about? Did you find out about an unexpected expense?
There’s any number of things that weigh on you before you enter the office, and then you mix that with everyone else’s issues, and suddenly you find yourself feeling like you might be a little spiteful today. Or want to waste some time gossiping about someone else’s problems to make yourself feel better.
American writer Dale Carnegie once said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotions.”
Mix this emotional backdrop with the fact that we develop relationships with our colleagues that can range from acquaintance to “work spouse.” But keeping in mind that these same people are the ones we not only collaborate with but also compete with for promotions, the next big project or even just the attention of your boss.
3 Reasons Office Politics Happens
The gossip, the power plays and everything else that encompasses office politics result from the mix of those emotional beings and the personalities they bring to the office.
If you employ the DISC Model of Human Behaviour, which says most people fall into four categories of behaviour types: Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive, Cautious. When you place a mix of those four behaviours in one office, you’ll find a range of chatter going on from backbiting to therapy sessions.
Another culprit for office politics is people jockeying for hours, a promotion, a project, the list goes on. People might talk if they feel someone is the boss’s pet (the one who always gets hours or new assignments first), or on the other side, team members hate to feel like they can’t seem to earn favour.
Unclear on Vision
Organisations often become ineffective when the goal or vision isn’t made clear or understood by the team. If people don’t know what they’re really working for or towards, then they’ll tend to put their personal priorities ahead of the business needs.
It’s easy for office politics to hijack the environment of a company, making it either a toxic place for people to work or even just a stressor when people worry about what’s being said or done behind their backs.
In the coming weeks, we’ll examine how to spot these issues, how it can damage your company and how to get rid of it. Stay tuned!
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BespokeHR offers assessments that can help you gain understanding of the various personalities you have in your office, which will help you better manage.
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