Office politics is unhealthy actions and behaviors that involve competition for status or power in a workplace. It is generally believed that the workplace is a salient political environment you must understand to be successful. The danger of office politics lies in the quest to advance personal agenda at the expense of others. Office politics must not always be seen from a negative perspective. A healthy competition in an organization can crystalize to an improved individual performance and motivate others to better deliverables. The experience of most people on the manipulative politics at the workplace has created a mindset that you either join them or you become a victim. The culture of organizations play a big role to contain the personal ambition of the individual and promoting team collaboration. Office politics can be very disruptive to an organization when not properly tamed.
A competitive culture is unhealthy when it promotes individual performance at the expense of group contribution and collaborations. There is a tiny line between celebrating excellent individual performance and promoting aggressive culture at the workplace. Every individual performance should reflect their contribution to the team and the common goal. The culture of an organization could tame office politics toward team collaboration and knowing the right people to speak to without undermining the corporate structure for self-advantage. Many business leaders do not understand the role the organization’s culture plays in reshaping the appetite for personal ambitions of their employees. They are often faced with dealing with a contentious work environment and regular conflict resolution.
Yes, I mean a toxic workplace. When office politics are not tamed, it breeds a toxic environment where individuals become defensive, suspicious of others, and only care to tap an opportunity to speak ill of other members of the team. This practice is like cancer that spread so quickly in the system. Many people have resigned their jobs or manipulated out of their role by another aggressive individual in the system. In most cases, the ultimate loser is the organization that would be denied the benefits that come from team spirit, healthy competition, and synergy among the team.
Dealing with a toxic leader or colleague is not something very easy to do but not taking an action is an action on its own.
Dealing with a Toxic Workplace
Senior Management: The management needs to promote a culture that celebrates team performance and collaboration. Performance recognition and compensation have a key role in this.
Managers: When managers cultivate an environment where gossip and self-glory are nurtured, it is almost certain that the environment would be toxic. The innovative ideas could be suppressed, and this could affect productivity.
Employees: Lean to understand the workplace and its politics. Never join the destructive and manipulative politics. Learn to be different and concentrate on doing your best even when it is not visible. You could develop the skills that would help you prevent someone from taking advantage of you. It is possible to climb the corporate ladder through manipulative schemes, it is often difficult to master the evil act. Never bring anyone down for your rising! Make your work relevant and visible without trying to pull down others.
It is good to develop political skills, and form alliance for collective bargain. It is unhealthy when individuals promote their personal interests and ambitions (sometimes saliently) to the detriment of the team’s unity. Top management must hold themselves responsible to ensure that competition at the workplace is healthy.