Office politics exist and haunts the best of us. Here is how you deal with it.
Stay away from gossip
Nothing destroys the dynamics of an office more than gossip. Just be sure you avoid the “holier than thou” attitude of lecturing your co-workers on the evils of gossip. You’ll make them lose face, and they’ll hate you. Instead, try subtly changing the subject. If you do it right, no one will even notice that you’ve moved them away from the gossip.
Stay out of those talk-down-the-boss sessions
As with the situation of gossip, try changing the subject by linking the boss to another topic, then talking about that topic instead.
Be a straight arrow
The best way to keep out of trouble is to be seen as someone who doesn’t play office politics. Do what you say you’re going to do, alert people to problems, and admit your mistakes. Others will respect you, even if they don’t always agree with you. More important, you have a lower chance of being a victim of politics.
Address the issue openly when appropriate
Tell people you’re not interested in scoring political points or lobbying but only in getting the job done. It might not work, but unless you bring the matter up, there’s no chance at all that they will believe you. So if a co-worker is unavailable, and you have to act on that person’s behalf, consider saying to that person, “I had to act because of your absence. I wasn’t trying to go behind your back and I wasn’t trying to show you up.”
Nothing saves a job or career more than having a written record. If you believe a matter will come back to haunt you, make sure you keep a record of the matter, either via e-mail or document. Documentation is also a useful way to highlight of your own accomplishments, which can help you when your performance evaluation is conducted.
Set incentives to foster teamwork
If you’re a manager or senior executive, take a close look at your incentives. If you reward employees in a department based only on how well that department does, you may inadvertently cause destructive competition among departments. Each one will be competing against every other one, and all the departments could end up in a worse position. To minimize this possibility, give employees incentives based not only on department results but on organization results as well.