Magazine article Public Finance

How to Survive Office Politics

Magazine article Public Finance

How to Survive Office Politics

Article excerpt

Politics play a significant role in every public organisation. After all, politicians are at the helm and it is they who determine the agenda and the way of operating. That should make everyone in the public sector aware of the skills of being a politician. But do they trickle down into the workplace? How skilled are you when it comes to politics in the office? Do you need to be more adept at playing this game?

No matter how well-grounded, polite and friendly you are, playing politics is unavoidable and an essential part of your office survival toolkit. Even if you hate the very nature of the term 'office polities', simply don't want to get involved and believe you're just there to keep your head down and deliver - unfortunately, you just can't avoid it, you need to get involved at some level.

Clashes are inevitable from time to time at work. Wherever you have a group of people with different personalities, sets of values and opinions - and that means just about everywhere - you're going to come across office politics. Even if you are fortunate to work in an office where everyone gets on all of the time, staff members can come and go, so it's best to be prepared for the occasions when office politics might rear its ugly head.

As you can't avoid it, you need to know how to manage the situation for yourself and others around you. There are some useful strategies you can adopt to minimise the effects of any clashes on you, while ensuring you are still seen as being on the inside, rather than on the outside looking in. What you should be aiming for is to manage any effects of office politics that directly relate to you and turn them to your favour or at least restrict their impact.

Here are ten top tips on how to navigate the maze of office politics.


You might curse those who sail through each day putting in a minimal amount of effort but still seem to rise up the ladder of your organisation. The fact is, that to ensure your progress, you have to play the game, and office politics is here to stay. You can't ignore it and sweep it under the carpet. To win a game, you have to be part of it first.


To move ahead in any organisation you must understand its structure, its position on contentious issues and its goals for the future. Learn who the influencers in your organisation are and where the organisation's priorities lie. Knowing this will help you distinguish the most important people to 'cultivate' and also the correct way to respond in the best interests of your organisation when any given issue arises.


Observe those in influential positions, or people who command the respect of others in the workplace. Ask yourself how they have arrived at the position they are in or why they are so respected by their peers. By learning how these 'craft masters' interact with colleagues and those in positions of power, you will find different approaches to both communicating with colleagues and reporting to those above you that could work better for you.


If you're trying to sell an idea or a project that is radical, new or controversial, it can be advisable to have the majority of decision-makers on your side before you begin. If you don't, you could run the risk of failure or damaging your reputation. Alternatively, if you can persuade the most influential stakeholders to your point of view, this could help you influence others to go along with your scheme. …

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