6 MIN READ
Working in a Highly Political Organization
Thriving in a Toxic Workplace
In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.– Winston Churchill.
Everyone has an agenda in the workplace. Whether people are aiming for a promotion, attempting to win a big project, trying to impress their boss, or looking to move departments, their actions often have an underlying purpose.
These motivations can lead to healthy, professional networking and communication, but they may also cause power struggles, competition and alliance-making that upset everyone within a team.
In this article, we'll discuss how you can identify this type of office politics, and we'll explore ways to avoid its negative influence.
What Are Office Politics?
Office politics can be defined as the use of underhand methods to gain advantage in the workplace. People do this to achieve their goals, gain prestige, or seek greater influence, so that they can persuade others to share their viewpoint, access assistance or resources, or get ahead in their careers.
We all need to build good relationships in the workplace. For example, the more connections you can build with stakeholders and senior leaders, the more likely you are to succeed. And, engaging with leaders rather than staying on the sidelines means that you increase your visibility and ability to accomplish your goals.
However, this can cross over into office politics when people participate in destructive behaviors to influence others, and it can have a number of harmful consequences. Instead of relying on positive relationship-building techniques, such as persuasion and networking, individuals use damaging and unethical actions like manipulation, corruption, backbiting, or infighting. This can cause people to become frustrated at perceived inequities, damage team morale, and result in stress and burnout.
What Is a "Highly Political" Organization?
Professor Kathleen Kelley Reardon identified four types of political organizations, and published her findings in the January 2015 Harvard Business Review. These organizations are:...