50% to 70% of ‘work’ is dealing with office politics.
Majority of time and energy can get consumed in oneupmanship, workplace dynamics, and navigating ‘kingdoms’ established by long time executives. This becomes an even bigger issue during times of job insecurity and layoffs.
It makes employees to focus on looking good and ‘being in the right camp’ rather than focusing on creativity, solutions and innovation.
This can be a significant drain on both morale and efficiency, but it doesn’t have to be a career roadblock.
In my observation, here are five ways to rise above office politics and chart a path to success:
1. Cultivate a Positive Professional Network
Building a strong network within your organization is crucial. This doesn’t mean engaging in gossip or alliances but forming genuine relationships based on mutual respect and professional support. For example, a project manager collaborates closely with team members across functions, fostering a culture of open communication and shared goals, which can help navigate and even neutralize negative political undercurrents.
2. Maintain Professional Integrity
Staying true to your values and maintaining your integrity is paramount. This means being honest, transparent, and consistent in your interactions. Consider the case of a sales leader who refuses to promise more than the team can deliver, even if it might please a demanding client in the short term. This integrity builds long-term trust and respect, both within the team and with clients, setting a foundation for sustainable success.
3. Focus on Solutions, Not Problems
Office politics often thrive on problems, blame, and finger-pointing. Rise above this by being the person who focuses on solutions. When a project hits a roadblock, instead of joining in on the blame game, lead by example. Propose actionable solutions and rally the team around a plan of action. This approach not only positions you as a leader but also shifts the narrative from politics to productivity.
4. Develop Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
High EQ is a powerful tool in navigating office politics. It involves being aware of your own emotions and those of others, and using this awareness to guide your interactions. For instance, if you sense tension in a meeting, use empathy to understand each party’s perspective and mediate a constructive dialogue. This ability to manage emotions and relationships can make you an invaluable asset.
5. Seek Mentorship and Offer Mentorship
Mentorship is a two-way street that can help you navigate the complexities of office politics. By seeking guidance from experienced mentors, you can gain insights into the unwritten rules and dynamics of your workplace. Similarly, offering mentorship to others helps build your leadership skills and creates a culture of mutual support and learning.
Remember, the goal is not just to survive office politics but to thrive in spite of them, creating a fulfilling and successful career path.