The phrase, workplace politics, doesn’t conjure up the most positive image in my mind. When I think about workplace politics I envision high-powered executives focused solely on their agenda, impervious to the effect their actions may have on co-workers and the organization. I am inclined to think that many others would share this view. However, my perception is surely clouded by previous work experiences, the influence of my peers, and stereotypical conceptions of the workplace. I recently attended a panel entitled “By the Book: The Expert’s Views on Managing Workplace Politics” that altered this thought pattern.
During the panel, each member acknowledged that they had dealt with workplace politics, the negative impact they could have, and the unlikelihood of avoiding them. In spite of these admissions, the panel members offered a positive outlook and practical tips for combatting the destructive impact workplace politics may cause.
- Embrace workplace politics because they aren’t going anywhere
- Cultivate relationships. Connect routinely with co-workers
- Appreciate colleagues’ different agendas, beliefs, and personalities
- Focus on the facts. “Misinformation and missed information” are the root of workplace arguments
- Listen first
After hearing this fresh take on workplace politics, I left determined to change my thinking. Workplace politics can be positive. Shifting focus away from my pre-conceived notions will take a concentrated effort. Nevertheless, by changing my attitude I can in turn encourage my fellow team members to do the same, ensuring that we use our differences to grow and become more effective individuals and teams.
Politics is not a game. It is an earnest business. – Winston Churchill
Politics is the art of the possible. – Otto von Bismarck