Office politics is a topic not many people want to discuss, but at InteriMarket we discuss difficult issues and challenges so we can offer solutions or hear from other’s that offer expertise on such sticky subjects. Office politics is very real and pertinent in big or small organisations, globally. It is especially important for Interim professionals or contractors to learn about these and have tactics at hand to help them.
6 Tips on how to manage and overcome office politics
We’re referring to internal politics; the kind that causes stress and negatively impacts productivity across the board.
There isn’t an office in the world that is free of politics. We’re not talking about employees voicing their support or disdain for their local councilor; that kind of talk can often be heard at the water cooler. We’re referring to internal politics; the kind that causes stress and negatively impacts productivity across the board. The thing about office politics is that it tends to get unwarranted attention while detracting from the hard work others do and manages to stir the ire of the workforce in the process.
But when tempers flare and office scenes get tense, you can’t just toss a stapler at the source. And running off to another job isn’t usually a good idea either; you’ll find office politics there too. So what is a diligent worker to do? In this post, we look at how those who simply want to excel at their jobs can overcome the stress of office politics.
- Be polite and professional, always
The British tradition of being polite is sometimes the only thing that keeps social bonds from fraying, and it can work wonders at the office. A touch of formality does no harm, and neither does a bit of distance. You don’t need to be best buddies with your colleagues, and you don’t need to talk about personal matters with them. Keep it simple and pleasant to avoid unnecessary drama.
- Keep your eye on the goal
Focus on doing your work to the best of your ability, and reaching the goals that you set for yourself when you accepted the job. Maybe you’re in it to save some sterling for studies or a holiday, or you’re working to support yourself and your family. Remind yourself of your reasons, keep your head down and complete your tasks. Treat any politics as background noise and tune it out.
- Look for the good in even your most irksome co-worker
No matter how intolerable that one colleague may seem, they can’t be all bad. Remind yourself that they have friends and family who see the good in them, and try to do the same. Once you’ve found one good point, look for another. Focus on these instead of their less-favourable traits.
- Deep breaths and mindfulness
If you feel agitated by something someone has said, take a breath and count to ten before responding. You might also want to sketch out a code of honour for yourself for the office and hold yourself to it. Check your speech for necessity and politeness before you deliver it.
- Practise empathy
There’s that famous quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Your colleagues are just as human as you are; try to remind yourself that they may be dealing with all manner of struggles and doing their best to keep their head above water.
- Praise where praise is due
Finally, don’t hesitate to compliment colleagues on a job well done – where it is well done. Affirming someone’s work can almost instantly ease a bad atmosphere. Also, don’t entertain conversations about colleagues that are inappropriate and are out of their proper context.
Politics should be on management’s radar
If you’re in a leadership position, make sure you’re well attuned to the energy in the office and try to address any issues that may give rise to nasty politics or gossip. Nothing can be more demotivating for valued employees than to come to a place of work where politics are the order of the day.