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So I wanted to write about workplace politics and searched online what others have written on the topic. I was surprised to see that people have written only good things about it and have encouraged the employees to indulge in it. This was something I definitely wasn’t expecting. I mean, workplace politics is not something I have recently came across; in my 12 years of professional life, I have experienced various kinds and levels of politics in work environment and liked none of it.
I have seen colleagues laughing at lame jokes of the CEOs, MDs or Country Heads and agreeing to impractical and impossible deadlines or tasks just to be in good books of the boss and have always wondered if they are being loyal to the organization, their profession or just their salaries. The unfortunate part is that I have seen such people being rewarded and awarded for their actions too.
Backbiting is another characteristic of workplace politics which is a must. Especially, colleagues who are hierarchically senior to you would develop stories about you and tell these to the management. They will, to your face, say something negative about the management and even if you nod your head or say ‘hmm’, they will relay the same thing with your name to the higher-ups. Once, I remember, a boss of mine asked me if I was having trouble in my family life since one of his CLOSE employees – I don’t understand what does that means – told him that. He even offered me counselling by himself or the CLOSE employee, if I agreed to SHARE my issues with them – which they can quote during meeting or use as a basis of writing my annual appraisals. Canny!
I was so baffled to hear this that I couldn’t even react for a few seconds, since I do not fancy indulging in such menial gestures. The articles also said that you should learn which teammates have influencing powers and how do they use their authority and then make friends accordingly. But what about an environment where everyone pretends to be everyone’s friend, when no one genuinely is? Tricky!
An interesting thing is that since you find such acts lowly and do not feel comfortable getting involved in these and are also outspoken too, the people who actually do such things do not want to face you, would reach out to your team members and harass them, attracting them with incentives like promotions and confirmations as permanent staff. They would even tell your team members to not to say anything to you since they are an individual and should not worry about such petty things whereas they would eventually want to know how many times their subordinates have used the loo or how many cups of coffee or tea have they consumed. Funny!
Like the saying that the grass suffers the most in the fight of two elephants, the team members suffer the most when two people in senior management are playing tricks against each other. One of them would keep a track of all the activities of the team members of the other, use them against the rival but wouldn’t even know what her team members are up to. Interesting!
I would suggest that one should focus on your work only. These activities or workplace politics are mostly encouraged by those who are insecure in their life, profession or self, have some kind of complex or who know that this is the only way in which they can survive. Don’t work to please anyone in the organization, work to please yourself – only then will you excel. And if ever you feel threatened or uncomfortable in any situation, stand up for yourself because no one else will.