When it comes to workplace dynamics, most employees would likely agree that office politics can play a significant role within the company. Everyone is competing for special recognition or a big promotion, and many will do whatever it takes to achieve it. This self-serving mentality is often at the core of office politics, and as much as employers and employees alike want to avoid them, these nuances are a fundamental part of any organization.
In fact, according to a recent survey by FlexJobs, the number one reason respondents want to telecommute for work is to avoid the burden of office politics.
But organizational politics are not necessarily a bad thing. They can actually have positive benefits. For example, healthy competition in the workplace can help motivate employees to perform well, increase productivity, and result in opportunities for recognition or career advancement.
The following six strategies can help employees effectively navigate workplace politics without the drama.
1. Avoid gossip. Steering clear from office hearsay can go a long way toward building a solid reputation as a trustworthy employee. Talking about others– especially a boss or manager– is not only unprofessional, but it usually gets back to that person and can have a detrimental effect on an employee’s reputation within a company.
2. Be a team player. Working too independently on projects or placing individual needs before others when working on a team can cause problems. Be flexible and remember to focus on the main goal: getting the work done. Whether or not it is listed in your job description, helping others and even asking for help when needed is essential to success. Offering to pick up the slack and doing things no one else is willing to do shows commitment to the company’s overall success and individual work ethic. It is better to be recognized for going the extra mile than to be known for looking the other way.
3. Control emotions. Avoid outbursts, such as yelling, screaming, making threats or extreme reactions at all costs. Not only can this damage a career, but it can also lead to termination. Everyone has moments or days where frustration can build, but it is important to remain calm and collected before voicing concerns or differences of opinion. Rather than loudly complaining about a problem, focus on finding an actionable solution.
4. Increase visibility. Employees who want to do well at a company strive to make themselves indispensable. Make sure others, especially direct managers, are aware of positive outcomes, but be tactful in doing so because no one likes a braggart.
5. Choose friends wisely. The phrase "you are the company you keep" applies well to office perceptions. Stay away from troublemakers and naysayers to avoid being perceived as one of them. Instead, align with high-performing, well-liked employees in hopes of both learning from their success and improving your office image.
6. Follow the culture and values. Fitting in is not only about good work, but also how an employee adapts to the company culture. Be mindful of the office environment. Pay close attention to successful employees and management, and integrate their positive traits into daily interaction and projects.
Navigating through office politics can work to an employee’s advantage if executed properly. Facing challenges in a professional manner, producing quality work and results as a team, rising to the occasion and making significant contributions helps the employee strengthen his or her skill set and helps the company outshine the competition.
This article was co-written by Eric Bonugli and Kay Oder
Eric Bonugli is a district manager and Kay Oder is a Certified Business Performance Advisor for Insperity located in the company’s Austin office. Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 27 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. For more information, call 800-465-3800 or visit http://www.insperity.com