When Shalini Vijay got her yearly increment letter, she was looking forward to an overdue promotion. However, it was not to be. And just while she was coming to terms with her disappointment, she noticed her colleague, an under performer celebrating his promotion. A miffed Vijay believes this to be ugly office politics at play. An office has people people play politics. It is an universal concept and hence there is no running away from it. Following this event however, Vijay has revamped her CV and is looking for a new job. While moving on can bring temporary relief, it is certainly not a permanent solution and is not always a wise option. What one can do is spot the roots or reason behind office politics and find ways to deal with it.
Like Vijay, there are many who workplace face office politics. Experts suggest that often, office politics stems out of an individual's insecurity about a particular situation. Insecurity leads to gossip and then it spreads like a forest fire and results in people bickering against each other. Thus, setting off the vicious circle of office politics.
Amidst these emotional upheavals, productivity gets affected and work suffers. While it is not possible to completely weed out office politics and gossip, employees need to learn to work around the same. Pooja Kamat, senior manager- content development at Work Better, an executive education and training firm suggests that when gripped with politics-fueled competition at work one must try their best to focus on their career growth. "When you are the food for gossip or a victim of politics, then you must not quit. In fact, focus on the positive aspects of the job like, your role in the organisation, the pay or a project you are passionate about," she explains.
It is not possible to overlook office politics especially if you are a victim in the situation. The popular notion that politics affects only the junior or middle level employees is untrue. According to Suman Agarwal, co-founder of Image Consulting Business Institute (ICBI), "The higher you go the more insecure you become. People at the top are afraid that talented younger subordinates may precede them in hirerachy." It is important to nip this fear in the bud. "Don't be complacent just because you are at the top, upgrade your skills and knowledge and," advises Agarwal, who has experienced office politics, as an airline employee. "It is all about existence and sustainability on the job at the risk of pulling the other person down," believes the image consultant. An open-minded approach at the top can help curtail office politics to a certain extent.
Experts suggest that communication in which both, the victims and perpetrators of office politics voice their opinions is essential. "Bringing out the truth is vital. Don't get angry, maturely communicate your problem with the concerened person or the team leader to clarify issues," advises Kamat. Top level personnel must be vigilant and spot frivilous gossip. They must be equipped enough to anticipate the gravity of the problem between the individuals involved. Agarwal also emphasises on reading body language. "Action speaks louder than words, so spotting non-verbal communication between your team members is a good way of spotting trouble," she says.
When one joins an organisation people skills are important. "Since day one it is essential to know who you should be close to and who you should keep away from," points out Agarwal suggesting a cautious approach.
Obviously we can't change or stop people who indulge in such puerile acivities, the only people we can change are the ones within our circle of influence or trust at the workplace.
When you are the victim:
1) Be extremely patient don't believe everything people say about you in office.
2) Get to the root of the matter of what has colored peopled opinion about you
3) Best time to introspect if the gossip or politics playes against you is cause of your behaviour at the workplace
4) Spot your mistake if any don't out right reject the situation
When you are the one playing the politics:
1) You should know when, where and how to speak during office hours
2) Control your anger and the urge to fuel gossip about a particular person
3) Don't manipulate your subordinates, people can spot your bluff
4) Have a confidante at work instead of indulging in coffee break sermons