Office politics can have advantages that may motivate certain employees and cliques. It can be very productive, as they usually know each other well and can utilize each person’s talent in a team setting. How a supervisor or manger deals with office politics can ultimately lead to his or her success or demise. It can also be the most unproductive and destructive problem in the workplace; which can derail the best laid business plans. It can eventually take down what was once a profitable smooth running business if it is allowed to continue or if upper management is a participant.
Small business owners and management at every level of any company should always be aware and listen closely to what is being said by their employees or associates. An action that undermines or impedes a co-worker’s right to do his or her job is another practice used in office politics to cause problems. It is good for employees to form bonds and friendships, but when cliques are formed in the office and others are bullied or cold shouldered, major complications can occur. Some of these problems can even lead to situations of workplace violence. The following are some of the signs and downfalls of office politics and ways to address situations before they get out of control.
Recognizing Cliques and Office Politics
I have seen office politics at its best, and more often at its worst. After being in the workforce for thirty-six years, from entry level to middle management, I have learned this; no matter what business you are in, if you have more than 3 people, you have an atmosphere for office politics. Two get friendly and one is out in the cold. Before you know it, your business is under attack from within; therefore, being very aware can put you one step ahead.
If you have set rules and guidelines, make sure everyone at every level knows what they are. Put them in writing, make sure everyone has a copy and let them know you expect them to be followed. Watch for supervisors or managers making friendships or using preferential treatment when enforcing rules, other employees will notice. Be sure your middle management understands this will not be tolerated.
Watch for Cliques
As the owner of a company or being in upper management you will notice employees getting together in their personal lives, even between different levels of employees. Birds of a feather do flock together. This can be a great thing and some companies encourage this by having weekly lunches or monthly events outside of the workplace where everyone gets to know each other. This in turn can help when forming teams or networking for better productivity. This is also where management can see where they may have clique problems forming that can cause harm to the company or individuals within the company. Things to watch for would be: a group going silent in their conversation when another employee approaches them or enters a room, dirty looks as an individual walks away, listening for...