“Office Politics” can be defined as using real OR perceived power and control to get what you want – be it tangible (a raise, corner office, etc.) or intangible (a promotion, visibility, influence over others) sometimes at the expense of others. This definition brings home the fact that office politics is inevitable.
What organization doesn’t have a hierarchy of some type? What company does not have managers, supervisors, presidents, CEOs, etc. that exert some authority? 90 percent of our newsletter recipients and other respondents to a survey about the subject admitted to being aware of office politics in their organization. Many of them also admitted that they knew of conflicts in the organization caused by office politics.
4 Common Causes of Negative Office Politics
1. Scarcity of Resources – Not enough resources to go around and everyone wants to get “their share”. This often causes back-stabbing and manipulation at varying degrees.
2. Extremely Competitive Work Environment – Performance not only based on production, skill or ability but mainly on “winning” from an individual perspective not an organizational one. Often work relationships are sabotaged and rampent burnout occurs due to the high level of competition.
3. An inordinate desire to advance in an organization – Wanting to advance not solely on merit but due to a need to have a “title” or certain position.
4. Abuse of power to manipulate others – Using a position of authority to manipulate others by any means.
Navigating the terrain of negative office politics can be daunting, but knowing exactly what they are truly all about at their root can give you some insight on how to respond.