Workplace politics can be a delicate subject. Workplace politics is the manifestation of power dynamics amongst employees. At its best, you’ll feel like you’re walking on eggshells each time you set foot in the office and at its worst, you can ruffle a few feathers, making each day feel miserable. Every office has some form of politics; what matters is whether or not they are toxic. Here we’ll go over five ways you can overcome workplace politics, or at the very least stay on the right side of issues, to avoid becoming embroiled in drama.
Know the Ins & Outs of the Organization
The first way to overcome workplace politics is to understand different functions of the organization. This means understanding the company’s organizational structure, who reports to who. It’s also important to understand who within the organization has influence. You might ask yourself questions such as, “who are the true influencers? Who is respected? Who mentors others?”
Stay Objective & Don’t Take Sides
It is vital that employees remain neutral during conflicts, even if you like someone more than another. Your position may be a trusted authority figure, meaning that your actions and words have significant meaning. You must think about what is best for the company, not for personal satisfaction. Remaining neutral allows you to make great decisions and stay separate from workplace politics. Once a side is taken it is difficult to overcome.
Cooler Heads Prevail
Similar to remaining objective, don’t lose your cool and become aggressive with someone or you’ll gain a negative reputation for it. This is relevant advice for all workplace situations. If you do not remain cool, your reputation and career is at risk. Even though workplace politics may upset you, staying cool has its benefits. Keeping cool prevents you from saying or doing anything in the moment that you may regret later.
Open Communication Avoids Mishaps
Stress the importance of open communication among and between teams, especially if you manage people. Your team members should feel at ease coming to you with problems they’re having without repercussion. Open communication leads to effective communication which then leads to an efficient workflow. When employees feel comfortable discussing workplace problems with co-workers, it leads to the potential resolution of problems.
Understand That Political Behavior Comes From The Top
Owners and managers influence behavior. If they promote or facilitate a toxic political atmosphere, it may be time to search for a new job. Leaders in the organization must take steps to eliminate political behavior immediately.
How Managers Can Quash Negative Workplace Behavior
- Transparency in decision-making: Share the goals that you are trying to achieve and reward those who help achieve them. When a goal is common it is less likely that people will prioritize their own interest first.
- Open communication: Keep every employee in the organization involved so no one employee feels more important than another.
- Team activities (lunches, happy hours, etc): Make connections within the organization and develop strong interpersonal communication between individuals. When employees are connected and respect one another, workplace politics begin to diminish.
Read, ‘Managing Conflict in the Workplace.’
Don’t Add Fuel to Fire
Behaviors to avoid include:
- Spreading gossip
- Choosing sides
- Taking part in the rumor mill
- Becoming jealous
Society Insurance: Our People Make the Biggest Difference
In the end, it boils down to respect for yourself and your co-workers. At Society, we give employees a real opportunity to make a difference. If someone has a great idea, we want to hear it. That’s how we get better as a company and grow as people. View our careers page for more information.
“Surrounding ourselves with employees who have that ability to truly care for others makes for a unique and very satisfying workplace.” —Rick Parks, President & CEO