Politics is everywhere. Not only in the media at a government level, but in your office, everyday. You may have encountered it this morning already, you've most likely encountered it this week, and you most certainly have participated in it. Willingly, or subconsciously.
In case you are are in any doubt, here's how office politics usually shows up:
Gossiping and rumour mongering. Talking about people behind their back. Taking credit for other peoples ideas, playing the blame game, playing people off against each other, manipulating situations so that you get what you want, undermining others, directly, or indirectly, and my favourite - 'the 3 meetings' - this is where you have a meeting before the meeting with others to talk about the meeting, then you go to the actual meeting, and then you leave the meeting, and have another meeting to talk about what wasn't said in the meeting. (This, btw, is not an exhaustive list).
I know this is how it shows up because I have been guilty of doing some of these things in the past. I was a master of office politics. Nobody called me on it, but everyone knew what was going on. What I learnt (mostly the hard way) is that it is ugly, and it destroys culture, and breaks relationships. It also is the number one killer of team and organisation success.
Gossiping and spreading rumors is the most popular form of office politicking. According to research, 46% of employees polled said it is the behavior they see most often. When employees perceive that a workplace is political, they are less engaged, participate less and contribute fewer ideas due to the risks they see by doing so.
This should be a big red flag for you as a leader looking to move the organisation forward, because it means that teams can't function in a way that they need to in order to achieve their goals, and build a workplace where people feel safe.
Office politics is a violation of honesty. Plain and simple, and occurs mostly due to lack of integrity (I know, harsh, but true). The best thing you can do as a leader, is to minimise it and it's impact. This takes courage and commitment, and I'll run you through where to start next week. The reason for the 2 parts to this topic, is it is important to first begin to notice where it is happening and how it is showing up in your team or organisation, so that you know what areas you need to address.
1 Learning: Office politics, left untreated, destroys culture.
1 Opportunity: Reflect first. How is office politics is affecting you and your team? Where do you think it shows up the most, where are the opportunities for you to sit and notice if politics are at play and what do you think would happen if it was dealt with, when it occurred, instead of being ignored?
1 Action: Spend the week noticing the office politics that are going on around you. Capture the occasions.
What are your hearing that is gossip and rumour talk?
When are people saying one thing in a meeting, and something different outside of it?
Who is taking credit for ideas that aren't theirs?
Where is there a lot of blame but no accountability?
Where do you notice posturing and positioning in meetings or in the workplace? What does it look like? Are decisions being undermined, directly, or indirectly, and how is this showing up?
I'd love to know what you are noticing, so feel free to drop me an email, so I can get specific with the 'how to's' of fixing next week.
Until then, get noticing....