The question is if politics are meant only for politicians? To be used only at a state (region, city) level? Or are there underlying politics going also in many other fields, say also in organizations?
We know there are. Some of you may have heard or experienced this: ‘There's too much wrangling, gaming and maneuvering going on – I just hate this organizational politicking?’
There are very few employees and even less top managers immune to gossip, having their ideas stolen or being set up by others who want their jobs or statuses.
Very rarely employees or senior managers are reluctant to take part in what is called political games, because most people want to advance their careers or ideas, have job security, earn more and get more recognition.
The term office politics often has a negative connotation. On the other hand the brute truth and reality is that to ensure your own success or your ideas or projects you must navigate the minefield of office politics.
Why office politics are so inevitable? Well, in any organization some people have more power than others. The power is (mostly) through hierarchy or either through other means of influence. Office politics often by-pass the formal organization chart.
To get a handle on office politics, one has to observe how things get done in organization and to ask some questions. What are the core organizational values and how they are passed through organizational levels? How decisions are made? How disagreements between groups get resolved? Who has the influence in organization? Do employees have the resources, information, or the time and attention they need and deserve?
Don't pretend to be above or out of office politics. There's no avoiding it. You should understand that an organization is not a benign world where everyone wants the best for everyone else. In any organization one is surrounded by a variety of people and won't always get along with everyone. A colleague may attempt to denigrate somebody’s character, put the blame on others or even to sabotage a colleague’s career. How should we deal with it?
We may ‘fight back’ to feel and be alone and despised. Or, we may passively observe and re-map the organization diagram in terms of the actual political power; keep an eye for any office turmoil; remain visible without taking sides; build relationships; govern own behavior through observation and feeling what’s accepted; watch others and identify successful behaviors.
Worse the culture of organization is, worse the office politics gets. On the other side, the (great) leaders of successful organizations want disputes settled through data, analysis, and logic, by what’s ‘right’ — not by who knows whom, who owes whom, or who plays golf with whom. To them this is just a blatant manipulation. They predominantly consider organizational conflict and competition ego-driven and therefore nurture an environment where those issues cannot become important issues.