Posted August 28, 2012 by

Gossip is Most Common Form of Office Politics

It seems that the workplace is not a popular place to talk politics, but that doesn’t mean that politics are not in the workplace.  Workers who try to avoid office politics say that gossip is all too common.

The U.S. presidential campaign may be heating up, but it’s considerably cooler in the office, a new Robert Half survey suggests. Four in 10 (40 percent) workers interviewed characterized themselves as “occasional voters” when participating in office politics, limiting their involvement to issues that affect them directly. Another 39 percent said they are “neutral parties” who stay completely out of the fray.

Although most employees report not being heavily involved in office politics, 56 percent have observed political maneuverings on the job. Chief among these activities is gossiping, cited by 54 percent of respondents, followed by flattering the boss to gain favor (20 percent) and taking credit for others’ work (17 percent).

Workers were asked, “Which one of the following most closely describes your involvement in office politics?” Their responses:

Active campaigner: I have to play the game to get ahead………………………..     14%
Occasional voter: I get involved when issues are important to me………………..      40%
A neutral party: I stay completely out of the fray…………………………………     39%
Don’t know/no answer…………………………      7%
100%

Workers also were asked, “In your opinion, which of the following activities is most common in your office when it comes to office politics?” Their responses:*

Gossiping or spreading rumors……………    54%
Gaining favor by flattering the boss……..     20%
Taking credit for others’ work……………..    17%
Sabotaging coworkers’ projects………………     2%
Other…………………………………………….      7%
100%

Max Messmer

Max Messmer, Chairman and CEO of Robert Half International

“Becoming embroiled in office politics is never a good career move, but it’s wise to be aware of political undercurrents on the job because they do exist in most organizations,” said Max Messmer, Chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies®, 2nd Edition. “There are people who seek to get ahead in their careers at the expense of others, and this behavior erodes trust and undermines team morale.”

Following are five types of office “politicians” and advice for effectively working with them:

  1. The Gossip Hound. This person loves spreading rumors and can often be found hovering around the water cooler, speculating about a variety of sensitive issues. Keep your distance from the Gossip Hound and don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to someone directly.
  2. The Credit Thief. This individual loves the spotlight and relishes taking credit for other people’s work. When collaborating with a Credit Thief, document your contributions. Provide regular updates to your supervisor and correct any misrepresentations about your work.
  3. The Sycophant. “Shameless” is this person’s middle name — he or she will offer fulsome flattery to anyone who is in a position of power. Although it may be hard to watch, don’t sweat the Sycophant’s tactics. Most managers can see through them. Give kudos to deserving individuals, regardless of their position.
  4. The Saboteur. Watch your back when working with this person, who loves to play the blame game and make others look bad. Limit your interaction with this master manipulator and make sure to stand up for yourself. Often, the Saboteur will back down when confronted.
  5. The Adviser. This professional is often closely aligned with an executive and serves as his or her eyes and ears. Develop a good rapport with the Adviser because he or she could have a direct line to the top.

Check out the following video that teaches a lesson in office politics.

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