How to Navigate Office Politics

By March 22, 2018 May 30th, 2019 Common Business Problems

Last Updated on May 30, 2019 by Dave Schoenbeck

Navigating office politics is an unavoidable part of working with your colleagues. Unfortunately, one wrong move and you could find yourself the target of drama—or worse, participating in it.How to Navigate Office Politics

Learning how to navigate office politics is necessary if you want your business and career to thrive.

Here are 4 of my best tips for dealing with office politics among your coworkers.  

1. Clear up confusion with new employees.

Often, office politics come into play when someone feels slighted or the hierarchy of authority is not respected, but many times new employees can do these things completely by accident. Whenever anyone starts at your organization, be sure they know exactly who they’re reporting to and who to ask if they have any questions.

This is also a good time to introduce a new employee to the office culture. As Forbes says, it’s important to take note of any unwritten rules that your company has: for example, are you expected to stay until your work is done, even if it means working overtime? Making these aspects of your office culture clear will prevent any accidental offenses.

Taking a new employee under your wing and explaining the ins and outs of the office will go a long way towards eliminating confusion and misunderstandings right from the start. This will help your new employee figure out how to navigate office politics in your particular organization, as well.

2. Emphasize that you’re a team.

Healthy competition is high in the workplace, but too often employees can let their competitive edge push them towards drama. Competition should never be so fierce that different departments have to fight each other for resources, or that employees continuously try to undermine each other to make themselves look better.

You need to emphasize that you’re all a team and that even the different departments are all working together towards a common goal. This should be evident in your leadership style: be fair with the distribution of resources and don’t let anyone feel like you’re playing favorites. Regular team building activities can help boost morale and encourage teamwork.

3. Institute a no-gossip policy.

Gossip can be used as a tool to bring other employees down, especially if someone is gunning for their job. Although you can’t legally forbid the usual griping and complaints that people sometimes have about their jobs, you can institute a policy that bans harmful or malicious gossip in the workplace.

It’s a team effort to make this a reality, but everyone benefits from working in an environment where they don’t need to fear people talking about them behind their backs. Just be sure that your policy doesn’t violate the National Labor Relations Act: the Society for Human Resource Management has a helpful article about how to craft your office’s no-gossip policy.

4. Model the behavior you want to see.

The best way to avoid the drama and deal with office politics is to show that you don’t condone that behavior. As I’ve written in the past, learning to handle conflict is a crucial step in your career. If someone comes to you to gossip about another employee, it’s up to you to not engage.

Instead, demonstrate with your actions the kind of office culture you’d like to see. The easiest way to figure out how to navigate office politics is only to model the behavior you’d want your coworkers to exhibit. Once they know they can’t come to you as a source of gossip, they’ll take a hint. You have lead by example to gain your employees’ trust.

Learning how to navigate office politics is an ongoing process. Fill out my contact form for a complimentary coaching session so we can work out a plan for your business.

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