Office Politics: Why You Need to Play the Game

Posted July 30, 2012 by

The politics of Obama, Romney & Co. are on everyone’s lips these days as the challengers and incumbents in the race for the highest office in the land battle it out on a global stage. Alas, the commentary’s rarely positive.

These days the term politics has become a four-letter word for many, in part because it represents a fraternity that spends more time defending itself than abiding by its dictionary definition: activities which are associated with government. The word has evolved to mean: the relational dynamics associated with influencing and governing — be it a country or a company — that become the currency of executing and trading favors and fostering opinions.

Ignore Office Politics at Your Own Peril

Do we, incumbents and challengers on our own political stage that is the office, fare better than the politicians we love to cheer and jeer?

Rex C. Mitchell, Ph.D., Professor at the Department of Management at California State University observes that organizational politics, while neutral until touched by human perception, are usually viewed by players and observers alike as a negative; the common perception being that organizations should work to minimize politicking.

For those of us with a keen political awareness, however, the importance of communication via sympathetic belief systems and shared goals is a part of organizational life that is ignored — or dismissed as manipulation — at one’s professional peril.

Perception Isn’t Always Reality

What gives the game of organizational politics the occasional dark turn has to do with how one perceives and responds to threats, territorial boundaries, clashing world views, personal tastes and biases and the sense that rubbing the right elbows will only lead to better things.

While the less politically inclined undoubtedly wish one should be judged and progress on contribution and merit alone, the stark reality is organizational politics is an inescapable, significant factor in job performance and career trajectory, and thus managing those politics becomes a skill-set one can and should seek to understand and cultivate.

It’s easy to understand then that when it comes to organizational survival and success, influence is everything. The more political the organization, the more important such influence is.  Continue reading . . .

Article by Harrison Monarth and courtesy of

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