Overcoming office politics

People engage in office politics because they think it will lead to better career prospects for them in the future. They align themselves to influencers, which means they will also be distancing themselves from others in the organisation. But who is actually influential? Sometimes we know, sometimes we don’t. Lots of companies will have hidden influencers that employees aren’t aware of. This could be the receptionist or the security staff,  the canteen manager or the IT administrator. 

Often people who don’t seem to have a lot of power, have extra power in reality, because of their close relationships or the mere fact that they are in contact with everyone in the organisation on a regular basis.

What can we do about this? 

We can focus on building relationships with everyone in the organisation - starting by identifying common ground. This doesn't mean that we have to become everyone's best friend; we just have to maintain good working relationships with colleagues. It's crucial to build professional relationships with colleagues because teams who work together will get better results than teams that work in parallel. 

It's also important to understand the rules of the people around you. What do they consider to be a satisfactory outcome to a project? What are their top priorities for successful completion? 

If and when you have conflict, it's paramount that you come to the table with solutions - not just problems. Then, focus on building common ground and look for the win-win. If this is achieved, it will leave a good feeling with both parties. 

We can agree to disagree, but we don’t need to be disagreeable.
— John Wooden

Finally, if you find that the same difficulties are arising again and again, or the same interactions are happening with one person in particular, then it's time to change your response. We've all heard this quote before, but do we really remember it?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
— Albert Einstein

So, change your response! If someone keeps doing something to annoy you, and then you get angry, try reacting in a different way. See what happens. The chances are that they'll respond in a different way to your new response. And then you might have some new options.