Office Politics Getting You Down? Here’s How to Survive… and Thrive
Eleven tips to overcome office politics
Office politics can turn an otherwise good job into a place that you can't stand. But don't let it get you down, here are some tips to survive and thrive.
Office politics is like a dirty word. We say it while cringing and it’s usually accompanied by a barely perceptible eye roll. Often, when people are asked how they describe office politics, the first word that comes to mind is painful. Oh, and stressful. Not to mention nasty…
Quick! Office Politics… what word pops up for you?
Last week, we had someone I didn’t know well over for dinner, and when I asked him about work, he said, “It’s good. It’s just the office politics. You know.” Well, we don’t work for the same organization, but in truth, I did know – no elaboration necessary.
It’s not something new to hear that the worst part of working for a company is the politics. When I’ve worked with coaching clients on how to survive office politics, we focus on what’s in their control and learning to understand the culture. Wishing it was different (and complaining about it) doesn’t make it so. Most telling is that the majority of those clients don’t want to leave their organisation, and they like a lot about their jobs, they just want things to get better.
Tired of Office Politics?
Like your job and your company but just wish the politics would disappear? It’s unlikely. Instead of getting sucked in or smothered, here are 11 better ways forward:
1. Don’t Remain Heads Down (if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist)
Yes, it’s a good thing to be a focused hard worker. No, it’s not a good thing to tell yourself that all you have to do is stay heads down, do good work and turn a blind eye to the politics swirling around you. It’s the same as wishing; it doesn’t create a positive change.
2. Stop Testing the Waters – do you agree with me?
Some people will throw out breadcrumbs and see if you pick them up. You don’t have to raise your hand, but maybe you’re the one doing the throwing. “Did you see what so and so did?” Instead of throwing or taking the bait, stop. Negative gossiping and positioning aren’t helping.
Walk away from the gossip. Be someone who won’t smash others. #leadership
3. Make Friends With People You Like and Respect
You don’t have to ingratiate yourself to the office bully to survive office politics. Surround yourself with people who are good, kind, respectful and embody the qualities you value and want to see more of in your office culture.
Surround yourself with positivity, even when people are slinging mud and playing politics.
4. Avoid Taking Sides (and don’t take all sides)
Like the breadcrumb throwers, avoid being an all-around kiss-ass. Out to lunch with Joe; Jane stinks. With Jane? You guessed it… Joe is awful and has terrible ideas. You can have opinions and share them without your primary goal being perceived (and often dishonest) alignment. In fact, having ideas and sharing your insights are essential to enabling your personal leadership to shine. Also, remember, Joe and Jane will talk eventually…
5. Live the Golden Rule
We all know “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s good advice. When you see someone getting thrown under the bus, will you let it happen or make another choice? Will you slam a colleague’s work to make yourself look better? Your actions influence the culture. Define your ideal organisation culture, and live and work towards that vision. You can’t control others, but you can control your words and actions.
Work and engage with integrity to let your personal leadership shine.
6. Be Visible
When you work with integrity, develop positive relationships, notice and acknowledge good work from others, and thoughtfully contribute to team success, that’s visibility that matters. When you’re visible with your good work and positive leadership, it’s a heck of a lot harder to drag your name through the mud. You’re also being a role model for others to follow.
Do you still feel unsure about the best way to improve your visibility? Our Returner Roll-Up Session can help you positively Raise your Visibility. Find out more HERE.
7. Understand the Politics
How do you get promoted? Get assigned to a cool committee that will give your career a boost? What are the hours that most people keep? All of these pieces of information create a picture of how to thrive in your workplace. It’s also a great starting point for change. Nothing can shift until you understand the baseline.
8. Phone a Friend
It’s not a good idea to complain incessantly to your colleagues about all of the horrible things and gross politicking happening at work. Have a trusted advisor outside of work… coach, spouse, friend, mentor. Someone who will listen when you need to complain and help remind you of who you are and who you want to be… even when things are ugly.
9. Cultivate Champions
Office politics isn’t the workplace equivalent of mud wrestling. Part of positive politics is actively cultivating your champions. Take the time to develop relationships, identify mentors and support other people’s success. Again, doing good work is great but make sure that your champions know what you’re up to and can sing your praises when you’re not in the room.
10. Learn to Build Relationships and Create Support
When you have a great idea, engage in positive politics. Talk to stakeholders, understand their concerns and gain support up and down the ladder (and sideways too!). Don’t hang your hat on a single meeting and a single person shutting you down. Do your legwork before you share formally.
11. Take a Vacation
Step away to refresh, recharge and reenergize. It’s easy for things to grow until they feel like a mountain you can never climb. Time away gives you the power of a fresh perspective. Don’t worry about what will happen or what you’ll miss while you’re away, it will be OK. You have the PTO time, use it.
Recently, someone told me that office politics makes them feel like they could lose control of their destiny and there’s nothing that they can do about it. That’s definitely a defeatist attitude. Instead of being smothered by something you can’t control, find those things you can. No need to hide or tiptoe. Want your office culture to change? Start with leading the way.
If office politics seem to be an issue at every level of your company, maybe there is a more toxic issue at the centre. Make sure that your company is inclusive with the help of our Unconscious Bias Training Workshop.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
25th February 2019 - SHRM Tech Dubai SHRM 14.35 Main Stage - Beating bias with Tech-Diversity and Inclusion Technologies Ritz Carlton DIFC Dubai https://www.shrmtech.com/
26th February 2019 - Latham Watkins hosted breakfast 0800 Capital Club “The Power of Inclusive Leadership“ by invitation
8th March 2019 - International Women’s Day Deloitte Athens 0900 Female Leaders: navigating the subtle challenges to career success – in-house
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Do you want a more inclusive hiring process but don’t know how? Read on how to create a more inclusive hiring process in your organisation.read more
Self-Leadership is a vital and invaluable skill Here are 3 steps to develop your own self-leadership and let it drive you to the top.read more
Don’t let the success of a job offer go to your head that you overlook some basics, here are 5 pointers for due diligence following your offer.read more