As par for the course, you would think over time that professionals have developed a defensive outer skin shielding them from this murky underworld of lying, backstabbing and dirty tricks – a theory of office evolution if you like.
However, a recent study has revealed that just over half of young people are unequipped to deal with office politics when they start a new job.
The implications of destructive office politics are far-reaching; it can demoralise an organisation, hamper productivity and increase labour turnover.
So when the office politics monster rears its ugly head, what can staff and management do to avoid the fall-out? Happily, there are a few useful practices to keep office politics firmly at arm’s length.
The easiest way to avoid personnel problems in the office is to get along with your colleagues. You needn’t pretend those you work with are your best friends, but being pleasant and professional goes a long way. If you have to refuse a request, explain why and try to come up with alternative solutions. There is no substitute for integrity.
Grappling with gossip
Can you keep a secret? Whisper it quietly but nothing destroys trust and loyalty more than gossip, especially in the office. If confronted with gossip, try subtly changing the subject to topics that are less likely to be divisive.
Factions cause friction
Try and avoid incentives that pit departments against each other – tribal factions can cause unnecessary friction within the office. To minimise this possibility, look at incentivising activity that benefits the organisation as a whole rather than encouraging departments to compete. Establishing a strong company culture built on shared values can help you to achieve this.
Lessons in leadership
Many employees will look to senior staff for guidance. Managers can help to set the tone of the office by being inclusive, encouraging ideas and offering constructive feedback. Remember there isn’t a one size fits all personality profile in the office. Get the best out of your employees by working with, rather than against, their unique personality traits.
Continue reading on the next page for where fun can play a part, as well as considerations of charity in order to bring about harmony in the workplace.
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