Office Politics by Peace Ogbonna

The greatest unofficial game within a professional realm is OFFICE POLITICS. This form of workplace dynamics has really diffused the professional system. Therefore, controlling everything from team dynamics to career advancement through self-serving behaviors.

Understanding and maximizing office politics is expedient for professional accomplishments.

Types Of Office Politics

Collaborative Politics: This involves a positive work environment where colleagues support each other endeavor through teamwork, collective efforts and cooperation to achieve set goals and objectives. Collaborative Politics are characterized by;

  • Teamwork
  • Open communication
  • Mutual support
  • Collective contribution

It is worthy to note that complacency may set in amongst some employees if healthy competition is not initiated.

Competitive Politics: This involves the strive for individual success and personal recognition within a professional sphere. Competitive politics encourages excellence and innovation, it only turns out dangerous when cruel antagonism becomes problematic for team growth. Characteristics of Competitive Politics are;

  • Individual ambition
  • Healthy competition
  • Desire and strife for personal recognition above team recognition.

Competitive politics hinders teamwork and morale if it gets to destructive rivalry.

Strategic Politics: The careful navigation of workplace dynamics in positioning of individual or team in an advantageous position through thoughtful planning and maneuvering to achieve organizational goals and objectives is called Strategic politics. This can affect organizational leadership and growth when dubious means are employed. Characteristics are;

  • Calculated actions
  • Thoughtful planning
  • Forward thinking

Strategic politics can lead to manipulation is inevitable if communications are not transparent in the organization.

Negative Politics: Negative behaviors are core for negative politics as they involve- gossips, manipulations and undermining colleagues. Trust is eroded and toxic work environment is created. This deters team spirit and productivity. It is mostly selfish interest at the expense of others. Traits of Negative politics are;

  • Gossips
  • Toxic work environment
  • Manipulation
  • Selfish interest
  • Sabotaging colleagues

Negative politics has nothing to offer in an organization rather it drains energy and creates a horrible work atmosphere.

Networking Politics: This is the professional building and leveraging of connections to gain influence, opportunities and information in the career world. This professional networking is political because it might not be for mutual benefits or collaborations rather for personal gains. Most of its features includes;

  • Opportunistic alliance
  • Strategic business relationships
  • Professional connections and collaborations.

Networking can be abused if it undermines the place of merit in the career world.

Cliques and Alliance Politics: This type of office politics involves the formation of exclusive groups within an organization with colleagues who share same interest in the workplace. This type of politics can be identified in an organization through;

  • Exclusive groups in workplaces
  • Cliques’ collaboration for shared interest.

Cliques and alliance politics can lead to favoritism, biased decision making in organizations and excluding other colleagues who are non-members from decision making.

Information Hoarding: This type of politics in workplace involves withholding of information strategically for the purpose of maintaining control and competitive advantage. This type of work place politics can be identified through;

  • Lack of transparency by colleagues in terms of information dissemination
  • Avoidance of open communications at workplace.

Information hoarding hinders teamwork, effective communication and collaborations.

Scapegoating Politics: This involves blaming colleagues to divert failures and mistakes as a means of diverting attention for one’s shortcoming. This type of politics is played as a means of self-preservation against others for protection of one’s selfish interest. It is characterized by;

  • A constant culture of fear and mistrust
  • Avoidance of responsibility of actions
  • Avoidance of accountability

Scapegoating politics can shrink in an organization by intentional creation of learning and accountability method within the organization.

Power Plays: This involves strategic use of power to influence decisions and outcomes within an organization. Employees involved in this type of politics use every possible means to seek consolidate authority, manipulate situations undermine colleagues and assert dominance within the organizational hierarchy. This politics is characterized by;

  • Use of power to influence decision making
  • Over ambitious seeking of dominance in organizational hierarchy

Power play politics can be effective in driving organizational goals but if not controlled, it leads to resistance and resentment in the workplace.

Lobbying Politics: This means privately seeking support for personal or group interest in the workplace. This comes in forms of; gaining support for specific initiatives, collaborating with influential personnel to push particular agendas or influencing decision making process. Characteristics of Lobbying politics are;

  • Attitude of support seeking privately rather than openly

Lobbying politics quickens the process of decision making but it can lead to biased decision making, lack of transparency and distrust among employees.

From the different types of Office Politics listed above, it can be seen that Office Politics involves the use of influence, networking and manipulation to achieve individual or collective goals. It might be seen as a negative aspect to workplace dynamics and this is entirely not true because a constructive office politics fosters collaboration, innovation, and a healthy competition that drives individuals and team to succeed.
Manipulation, gossips, backstabbing and toxic work environment are some of the negative sides of misused office politics. Identifying negative office politics is essential for employees and employers as this will aid in mitigating its impact.

Office Politics can be Identified in an Organization through the following ways;

  1. Analyzing Behavioral Patterns: Paying close attention to consistent patterns of behavior, such as taking credit for other’s work, gossips, backstabbing and shifting of responsibilities.
  2. Observing Power Dynamics: Identify cliques or groups that holds misappropriate influence access that might not align with organizational hierarchy.
  3. Monitoring Exclusionary Practices: Observe exclusion mechanism, where some individuals are left out of crucial decision-making processes and discussions.
  4. Being Aware of Alliances and Cliques: Formation of alliance and cliques should be taken note of as the can biases decision making in workplace.
  5. Style Take Notice of Communication: Observe the flow of communication in the organization; is it an open communication or it is a secretive one for a selected few.

Tactics for Managing Office Politics:

  • Promote a Positive Work Environment: The culture of openness, transparency should be is necessary in the workplace to mitigate negative effects of office politics.
  • Constructive Communication should be Encouraged: Feedback mechanism for employees and open communication should be practiced for a positive workplace environment.
  • Establishment of Clear Organizational Values: Clearly reinforce and articulate values and discourage negative political practices in the workplace.
  • Leadership Development Culture: Trained leaders in the organization should be saddled with the responsibility of addressing negative political practices and emphasize on the importance of ethical leadership.
  • Addressing Conflicts Properly: Conflicts should be addressed properly without biases and openly so that everyone knows that both reward and punishments are distributed equally.

In conclusion, Office Politics is inevitable in a workplace and its can either contribute positively or negatively to the organization. Understanding of this workplace dynamic practice will help one not to fall a victim to the negative practices, maximize the positive traits and develop strategies that are crucial for a healthy work environment that will lead to success and excellence in the professional world.

Peace Chinyere Ogbonna
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