A lot goes on in the workplace, beyond getting down to meet client or customer needs. Sometimes, you will find yourself torn in between joining various cliques among staff who have been drawn together by common interests and agenda. At other times, you’ll find that some persons get promoted faster than others because they are familiar with the people at the helm of affairs on a personal note. Then again, you may notice that there is some sort of ‘cold war’ between one or two department heads, for some reasons unknown to you. All you notice is that there’s no love lost, and that things are probably more complicated than you’ll ever understand.
These scenarios may not be typical of the company where you work, but, make no mistake about it, office politics is real for many people! They have to deal with it – day in-day out.
So, what’s going to happen to you, if you ever find yourself in such a situation at work? Would you resign from your job just to go contend for the very few “already in-demand’ vacancies in the labour market? Or, would you face it squarely? Here are six tips for handling office politics:
- Don’t personalize issues: This will probably be the most valuable point you need to note, because it sets the tone for others. When ugly issues arise, please do not get personal; deal with such issues professionally. This is because, the workplace is about several individuals, with different career backgrounds coming together to achieve a goal. There will be one or two hitches here and there. You know and do things in different ways and have had different career paths, so this is bound to happen. It is important to look at things from the right perspective. Never think that anyone is out to specifically hurt your feelings at work; this is often not the case.
- Get a career/business mentor: If you never had one before now, you should consider doing so. A career/business mentor is one person you can talk to about the goings-on at your place of work and he/she would be able to advise you objectively, because they have been there before and have gone ahead. With your mentor’s guidance, it is easier to handle messy situations and make the right decisions when at crossroads.
- Stay out of controversial issues: Do all that is possible not to get controversial or biased on a particular issue, especially if that issue involves several other people. Make general statements, not specifics that can be traced back to you, or statements that point a finger at an individual staff.
- Be open to other perspectives on a subject matter: If you are a project manager or hold a leadership position at work, it is important to take in as many opinions as possible on a particular subject matter, before drawing the curtains on it. This shows that you are a good team player, and a flexible, approachable leader.
- Do what is ethically right: There are a lot of rules that your company must have drawn out to guide how each staff member works. Be familiar with these rules, and do what is right. The reason why these rules are there, is to preserve everybody’s rights, and ensure that there is mutual understanding to foster peaceful co-existence at work.
- Give your very best: When you come to work, be sure to go the extra mile. This makes you stand out of the crowd. That little extra that you put in makes you earn good points; anyone who is watching out for “talented employees who are putting in their best” will easily spot you. Do this because you love your job, and you are excited about moving forward.