In almost every conversation with my executive coaching clients, no matter what the goals, the topic of office politics always crops up. No one likes to deal with office politics, yet it is a very integral and undeniable part of corporate life. All companies will have their fair share of politics. You cannot be an ostrich and put your head in the sand and say you don’t want to deal with it. If you're going to be successful in your career, you will need to learn to decode and navigate the politics. The key is to stop wishing it will go away and to start learning how to thrive in your company’s political environment.
Sometimes, when the going gets too rough, quitting may be the only solution, and that is all right, however, it must at least draw out some realisation and understanding of your challenges, values, and beliefs.
Office politics is not always a bad word; however it can be highly destructive if people only care about personal gains. Essentially, office politics is how power gets worked out on a practical, day-to-day basis. You can play smart and know when and how it is worth getting involved. If you want to feel more in control here are a few things to consider so that you don’t feel like you are at the receiving end of office politics.
1. Identify the influencers
Every department or group has formal and informal influencers. Sometimes the biggest influencers in the company are not the heads. Try and understand who is heard, valued and respected. Observe and understand the dynamics between different people. Notice things like who has lunch together and who gets invited to important meetings. You don't have to choose sides, but it’s smart to understand the rules and the players and their strategies.
2. Understand what drives your colleagues
The political miscreants are working to an agenda. That agenda may not always be aligned with the company’s strategy and culture. Knowing the plan of your co-workers is essential. You don’t have to agree with it. It enables you to be careful of or leverage their intentions, whatever the case may be. When you know people’s agendas, it becomes so much easier to navigate the politics.
3. Seek out mentors and sponsors
A mix of influence and relationships supports an excellent career trajectory. The more supporters you have that believe in you and what you are trying to achieve, the easier it becomes. Having an influential sponsor watching your back is an excellent way of building your network of champions. Seniors and mentors are helpful in decoding the politics as well as opening doors to opportunities for you.
4. Don’t be a gossip monger
It is very tempting and entertaining to have a good gossip session in the break room, but don’t do it, it’s not worth it. Be very careful when indulging in office gossip; you never know when it may come back to bite you.
5. Do you feel like you belong to your organisation?
Last but not least - is the culture of the organisation opposed to your values as an individual? Very often people try and adapt to their organisation’s culture by trying to fit in. When you try and fit in, instead of feeling like you belong, it makes everything so much harder.
Staying out of office politics altogether is not an effective strategy. As long as it is going on around you, you will be affected by it. It is better to be a competent and conscious player than to be pulled in the game. Manipulation, gossiping, backstabbing and other stereotypical methods are not required to navigate office politics. Navigating office politics can be smooth when you follow the golden rule of negotiating and operate with a win-win attitude towards all. Instead of trying to defeat anyone, spend that time and energy in thinking about how everyone can get what they want.
The views expressed in this article are not those of Fortune India
The author is the founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners a global Leadership Development company based in Bangalore. She is a Leadership Development Specialist, an ICF Certified Executive Coach [PCC] and author of the book - Team Decision Making.