Human Resources

Office politics: managing the fall out.

24 April 2012

Weekends are a precious space to take a breather from the office. Yet when you have just slogged through the commute back to your Dubai home, the bad vibes in your office can blow away any peace you might have had left.

Nothing ruins you mood, and sometimes your commitment to your job, faster than office politics. And it isn’t just a small annoyance, chat to anyone in HR and they’ll readily tell you the overall effect of someone, or a group of people. Playing office politics is detrimental in terms of a department’s performance: it lowers productivity and leads to higher staff turnover.

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There are, of course, levels of office politics ranging from simple ignoring a colleague to specifically targeting an individual and making their life a misery. However you look at it, it’s going to cause trouble. An ignored colleague is either going to feel ostracised and perform badly, or feel a lack of support and seek employment elsewhere.

On the other end of the scale where someone is specifically targeted, this goes beyond office politics and into bullying territory. In a culture where not passing on important information to an individual is accepted, it has ramifications for the business as well as the individual.

Not only could a person be made to look stupid at a group meeting, it might even cause them to lose a client. Neither is good. Losing a client hurts the entire company. The individual meanwhile is thoroughly demotivated and will either quit or under perform.

So how do you combat this happiness, time and productivity sucker? If you are a manager of a the group and can see the office politics being played out in front of you, it is part of your job to sort it out. Let’s face it, any detrimental activities going on during your watch is going to have a negative impact on your promotion prospects.

If you are the person feeling the brunt of the office politics, getting it off your chest may be difficult, but if you want to stay within the company rather than trying for a new job, you have to find the right person in the organisation to talk to.

In both cases you have to prepare yourself beforehand. To get a successful resolution you need to think of all the possible angles the other person is going to take. It may be that there is a little bit of tit for tat going on where no one person started it, but the whole department is suffering as a consequence. It’s possible that your manager is actually in on the game of politics – perhaps taking credit for your ideas and hard graft. It may be that you need to find an advocate in HR.

As with most difficult conversations in life, first of all think about what result you are looking for from the conversation. Without an end goal, the drive of the conversation can easily be taken away from you. Practicing your opening comments is key. Knowing exactly what you want to say will help you get over the hurdle of broaching the subject with the other person. Get yourself into a calm place as well: ranting doesn’t help your cause. Listen to the response, remember they have a right to their point of view, yet keep in mind your goal.

Tough as it is to confront a problem in the office, your daily commute through Deira will be significantly easier if you tackle it. And don’t wait until Thursday to do it. Make the commitment at the beginning of the week so you can all work through the after effects together.

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