Office politics has ruined many formerly awesome workplaces. But the harsh truth is that it is a very common phenomenon which exists in plenty of organisations if not all. An office rife with politics cannot breed a healthy culture, where even small issues can snowball into major workplace complexities and adversely impact employee productivity and morale.
Nothing good ever comes out of it…
Office politics affects the internal work structure of an organisation. The employees are not able to put in 100% into their work, and those who do, feel demotivated because of lack of recognition due to excessive politics at play.
This results in lack of trust and workplace friendships, leading to a dull and negative ambience at the work.
The more organizational politics employees perceive, the more stress and strain, decreased job satisfaction and increased intent to leave the organisation they will report.
Office politics could result from job insecurity amongst workers, no recognition or credit given to the person who deserved it, controlling managers who allot work as per their benefit instead of assigning work that matches people’s interests, the importance attached to job titles or hierarchy etc.
A survey conducted on office politics revealed that 47% of employees feel under-productive because of it and is one of the top 10 stressors at work!
Given the grave consequences, weeding it out of your company’s system is a must! Let’s understand few strategies that will forever let office politics take a back seat!
Eliminate Office Politics And Save Your Work-Culture!
Here’s how you can nip office politics in the bud.
1. Aligned Goals:
Everyone comes to an organisation with their own personal goals, egos, aspirations and agendas. When such diverse-minded people come together, there is always going to be some level of compromise, which eventually may lead to some form of politics.
This starts to happen when personal motivations are not aligned with those of the company.
It was found in a study that 71% of employees feel that their managers don’t spend enough time communicating and clarifying goals.
Yet focusing on goals and keeping organizational objectives in sight might actually be the best way to cut down on office politics.
Aligning organisational goals with those of the employees leads to a sense of oneness amongst them. The common agenda of the group as a whole becomes more important and colleagues resort to problem-solving rather than undermining each other through political gimmicks.
2. Reduce Uncertainty And Ambiguity:
Nobody likes to be left out on important information and live in a fog. When employees feel uncertain about things happening around them or have ambiguous information at hand, be assured the grapevine is at work and is the perfect scene for office politics to creep in.
People resort to filling missing gaps of information with educated guesses that are negatively biased, as a way to offset their lack of information with political behaviours.
The best way to tackle this is to be open and communicate at every possible junction, matters of importance to all your employees. This not only sets clear expectations in the minds of all the people but also discourages backbiting or negative rumours to spread around.
3. Ensure Fairness:
A fair work culture is the first step towards a politics-free work environment.
All company rules and policies should be applied equally to everyone, from management to staff in the most entry-level positions. This reduces ambiguity and miscommunication.
Hierarchical bias has to be completely absent in order to not let a good company culture get clouded by office politics. If we do not ensure this, employees will find a way to circumvent policies and loopholes are created in the overall system.
By reinforcing fairness in every act, you are weaving a culture of trust amongst your people which will, in turn, imbibe fairness quotient into them, and politics will backtrack.
4. Reward The Right People:
It is not only easy but also right to feel discouraged when someone has been putting in hours on a project, but because of the existence of office politics, someone else gets the credit for it. Such an employee is bound to feel less productive and let down.
Look into what everyone is working on and track their progress to be sure you are actually rewarding the person who deserves it. Understanding the contributions of your team can help you give better feedback.
In fact, a survey revealed that strengths-based feedback has been shown to improve productivity by 36%.
Helping people who are falling behind and rewarding the right people, will help your team to focus better on their work and leave politics alone.
5. Zero Tolerance For Politics:
Keep a zero-tolerance policy in place for political plots by employees. Keep an eye open for ‘me-first’ behaviour in meetings or email, ensure it gets squashed swiftly.
The pushing of personal agendas, no matter who participates in it or at what level of organization it occurs, should not be rewarded. The minute management accepts the political behaviour, it is an invitation for it to become rampant within the company culture.
6. Hire Selectively:
Don’t hire a person if you are not ready to trust that person with full autonomy over her own time.
Remain honest about the company culture you have and want to maintain when you hire. This is because hiring is the most important thing to do when it comes to preserving a good culture.
Many companies start out with a great office culture and lose it in hiring unfit employees who may create a politically incorrect atmosphere. Therefore, hire someone with utmost care, not in a hurry to grow a company so fast, that you end up losing out on a good work culture.
To conclude, it would be best to put this up that having a great culture is unlikely to happen by accident. You have to actively manage it and keeping office politics at bay is one of the sure-shot means to it.