Developing political proficiency is a good idea to be able to survive, or even thrive in political situation encountered at work.
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotions” – Dale Carnegie
All organisations are political – and to some degree, they will always be. The underlying reasons are psychological. As a result, office politics tend to impact critical organisational processes, making simple tasks complex and tedious and making organisations ineffective. Politics has become an inseparable part of workplace culture as people are driven by intentions, desires and motives that are often focused on individuals even when they work in groups.
One may regard it as an inevitable factor to which we must adapt to survive at the workplace. If it is not in your nature to indulge in politics, developing political proficiency is a good idea to be able to survive, or even thrive in political situations encountered at work. Handling public criticism, communicating with the right audience, finding opportunities to showcase your work are a few important skills to build upon.
Political savviness, often termed as political competence, may be a virtue to be honed in the current scenario. It involves having the ability to get work done, to manoeuvre hierarchical boundaries for better efficiency/effectiveness and most importantly, being able to handle complex situations, which are often very sensitive. Today, organisations are moving towards collaborative decision-making and an all-inclusive approach. The ability to manage burning issues with diplomacy/emotional intelligence can be the differentiating factor between a good and a great performer. Being assertive, timely and choosing your battles is one of the most important learnings on the job today.
Workplace politics is a reality and it’s important for each one to acknowledge it and deal with it. A strong know-how of the politics prevalent in your organisation will help you carefully sail through and not fall into a trap.
It’s important to recognise that untrammelled politics have a corrosive impact on the organisation. Hence, it is the responsibility of the leaders to address the issue of office politics rather than pushing it under the carpet. It is important to share experiences and make them able to deal with it. As one goes up the career graph, workplace politics will be a way of life and it is critical to have the ability to work through it all.
Here are some suggestions:
Be data driven: Usually, data trumps any sort of political agenda. When you are data driven, you rely on the facts and that is your best method to diffuse the issue.
Foster alliances: You need to build up alliances well in advance of any political conflict. Alliances are a great way to help each other ensure that nothing gets past your collective political radar.
Use email for clarity: Email can be a boon in a political environment. Ability to write detailed/well drafted clear communication not only avoids communication gaps (as it ensures things are not misunderstood or misinterpreted) but also can help defuse situations that may lead to hostile environment.
Always look out for the best interest of the company: This is probably the single best thing you can do in a politically charged company. No one can debate your motivation when it’s in the best interest of the company.
Try and find common ground: Common ground is where everyone in the situation can agree. In almost every situation, there is some common point where all parties will agree. Finding that will allow you to accomplish a critical political move.
Agree to disagree: Sometimes a situation will descend into such chaos that the only solution will be ‘to agree to disagree’. This should be your last alternative but it’s a powerful tool when you are deadlocked.
Constantly adjust your approach: As the saying goes, one size does not fit all. You need to read the situation you are in and select the best approach to achieve your objectives. Doing this will allow you to be much more successful than if you just do the same thing repeatedly.
Remember, “A wise man can take more out of his enemies than a fool can take out from his friends.”
(The author is Group CHRO, PropTiger.com, Housing.com and Makaan.com)