In today’s political climate it’s no wonder that many people view office politics negatively. Like many things, office politics can be perceived as good or bad depending upon intent. Bad office politics put the benefits of a few select individuals above the rest of the team or company. They may result in an unwarranted promotion, termination, or perhaps additional funding being transferred from one department to another. These politics not only create conflict in the workplace, but they waste company time, as people become more focused on how to get ahead instead of how to advance the company’s goals.
Office politics are defined as the use of power and social networking (i.e., the old-fashioned method of making personal relationships type of networking) within an organization to achieve changes that benefit the organization or individuals within it. They can benefit the company and build better intra-office relationships—you usually just don’t hear about it, or if you do, the behavior is labeled something innocuous like collaboration.
Some projects are inherently political because they have high visibility or they cut across different departments within the company (e.g., reworking or instituting a new process, etc.). Participate in political projects because “opting out” can be a career-limiting move. Focus on making all your interactions positive. Consider how your actions will affect those involved and work to find solutions that benefit everyone. Be careful not to exclude people because when someone feels left out or unheard, the potential for drama and disruption increases exponentially. Work to change how you view office politics. If you judge them negatively, you will see your participation as a necessary evil as opposed to an opportunity. Why waste your valuable energy making yourself feel bad?