The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

May 16, 2014

Career Coach: Getting past office politics

The subject of office politics can bring up tales of back stabbing, deceit, gamesmanship, sabotaging others, ruining people's reputations and other tactics used by colleagues to get ahead in the workplace. It seems everyone has at least a story or two to share. Office politics seems to be a fact of life in many workplaces.

Office politics refers to differences or conflicts of interest between people at work. It often stems from fear or greed. Maybe we fear losing resources or we aren't confident in our own ability to perform well, so we feel the need to discredit others.

The downside of office politics in the workplace is that it breeds mistrust, lower morale and team problems, resulting in lower satisfaction, productivity greater attrition. Who wants to work in a place where people are always fighting against each other or looking for the next opportunity to best someone?

How can you deal with office politics?

Remember to focus on the larger business objectives. It is easy to get caught up in "us vs. them" and to try to just win your side. But often there is a larger perspective that can be taken. This means we have to be willing to step back and manage ourselves.

Try to figure out why the person is engaging in the behaviors. Is it fear, and if so, why? What does it stem from? This can help you to potentially address these issues or befriend the person.

Bosses generally don't like to hear about conflicts between employees. Especially if those employees are managers. Bosses expect us to resolve conflict on our own.

Focus on what you can control and whom you can influence. Get other informal leaders to help you.

Find a mentor from outside the organization who you can talk with. It helps to vent your frustrations with an outsider and then listen to their advice.

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