Navigating Office Politics: How to Be Savvy Without Compromising Your Values

You can’t avoid office politics, you need to be politically Savvy.

How to survive workplace politics is a topic on the agenda with many of the female clients I work with. It impacts them navigating the board room or entering it in the first place.

HR leaders will know already that women are more impacted by this topic than men and often need to build up a defence armour to survive the political gaming that occurs in the workplace. 

Like it or loathe it, office politics are a fact of life in organisations. It is possible to promote yourself and your cause without compromising your values,  It takes awareness.

Workplace politics is a significant driver for stress at work, politics at work is also a driving factor in decisions to change roles and leave workplaces. When female leaders perceive their workplace as more political they are less engaged, less productive, and more likely to leave. It’s also a breeding ground for self doubt and self sabotage.

All workplaces are political to some extent, simply because people bring their personal emotions, needs, ambitions, and insecurities into their professional lives.

The importance of understanding office politics

We all want to be successful, but we don’t always agree with one another about how we should achieve it.

I learned my lesson about the importance of office politics in the beginning of my career. I received two promotions very quickly and thought the secret to getting ahead was killing myself doing great work and letting my determined driver kick into overdrive. But after five years with a company, I discovered that what I thought was the right formula for getting ahead was wrong. What happened? I didn’t pay attention to what was going on in my company. I avoided office politics and was therefore totally ignorant about key decisions being made. I stayed out in the field and failed to build  important relationships with the people who had power and influence over my career. I naively wore my dislike for office politics like a badge of honour.

 It is likely that in the organisation you are working in today there will be some degree of politics existing. Your task is to learn the tools to navigate the political landscape in a way that does not drain your energy or go against your authentic values. Stop telling yourself you don’t want to be part of the boys club, remember, you can still be authentic to your values and navigate a political workplace successfully, trust me.

I learned how to reframe my perspective on office politics and you can too, here are some of my top tips to handle office politics that I wish someone had told me 15 years ago.

Be Savvy, not naïve

Your first instinct may be to keep your distance from people who practise office politics. In fact, the opposite can be more effective. The expression, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” applies to office politics.

Get to know the playing field better. Be courteous but guarded, try to understand the players goals, so that you can avoid or counter the impact of their negative politicking.

Be authentic

Be yourself, know your own mind, your values, your goals and aspirations. 

Be emotionally intelligent

One of the best ways to improve your ability to navigate organisational politics, and remain authentic, is to strengthen your emotional intelligence. If you encounter a player that makes your toes curl, take a deep breath and think about what’s triggering you. 

Practise good politics

Come to terms with the fact that some element of office politics will always exist, become comfortable with this by applying a good politics spin on your approach. A good politics spin includes approaches like you building your network for the greater good. look for a male ally.

If you are struggling with politics and navigating your board room and would like to explore how coaching could help you, please get in touch and arrange a free discovery call with me.

Contact me today for a free discovery call

Lets see if we are a good fit to work together

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