Everything around us seems political these days. You can’t turn on the TV or open a paper without there being something about the upcoming presidential election or a pending local election. With all this bipartisanism in the air, it begs the question if it’s overflowed into the workplace? A recent study by Robert Half found that 40% of employees find they sometimes get involved in office politics and another 39% say they stay completely uninvolved, leaving the remaining 21% somewhere in between. That means that at any given time up to 61% of your workforce may be engaging in office politics.
Office politics run the gamut from the employee who is constantly gossiping about other co-workers to the employee who either takes credit for others work in order to promote themselves. Essentially any behavior which allows an employees to gain advantages beyond what they normally would have received can be considered political. In many respects, we’ve come to accept office politics as the way things get done in business. But are we doing ourselves a disservice by not putting an end to known politicking?
To an extent, some office politics can be good. It can motivate workers to improve employee productivity and strive to achieve their best results, hopefully for the common good of the company. At the same time, the wrong kind of office politics can undermine employee morale and leave employees frustrated and disenfranchised. The key to keeping office politics positive is to understand it and manage it. Companies shouldn’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on, but rather be aware and know who the players are. If things begin to get out of control, management should step in and clear the air. At the same time, management should make sure that all employees are respected and the lines of communication are always open.
Given office politics are here to stay, learn how to make them work for you. What have you found helpful in turning office politics into a positive?