How to Deal with Office Politics: A Short Guide for HR Practitioners

Categories: Advice for HR Professionals

Office politics usually refers to when employees “suck up” to the bosses, “backstab” each other, or spread malicious rumors. These habits harm the dynamics inside an organization. It’s a practice you should avoid at all costs. 

As part of the Human Resources (HR) department, you need to make sure that these office silos are broken down or better managed so that office politics won’t interfere with the company’s operations. In this guide, you’ll learn how to deal with office politics, whether in a physical office or a remote workspace. 

How to Deal with Office Politics

1. Identify and understand the players

Rather than looking at the employees’ job title or rank, examine your company’s organizational chart and map the political influence and power. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are the brains behind the business?
  • Who are the real influencers?
  • Who mentors others?
  • Who is respected?

Having a basic framework of the power structure will make navigating the often tense corridors of office politics easier and help strike the problem at the root.

2. Get familiar with the informal office networks

Within an organization, the formal network relies on job titles and a hierarchy of authority. These include the CEO, manager, supervisors, and line staff.

Meanwhile, the informal network is more subtle and relevant. It’s the position of power behind the scenes between employees. These are usually carried out by players across different departments and job functions to cut through bureaucratic processes and reporting to get work done faster. 

While the intentions are good, this informal network may block the flow of information from the top down or the bottom up. The members of these informal networks may also show intransigence and prefer to stick to the status quo instead of implementing changes to the operations. By familiarizing yourself with both networks, you can learn how to handle each one deftly. 

3. Understand the organization’s culture

Company culture starts with the organization’s leadership bench. Good behavior is practiced when supervisors display appropriate political behavior. Observe how your company culture plays out. Does it foster healthy employee engagement? Does it encourage work motivation? Assess if your company culture is the root of toxic work culture

4. Brush up your conflict management skills

One of the key aspects of conflict management skills is not “fueling the fire.” Taking part in negative politics will hamper your efforts in building a more positive work environment. You need to “walk the talk” if you want your team to participate. As a professional, you shouldn’t take sides or get sucked into arguments. When conflict arises, it’s best to find a solution that works for everyone. 

5. Curb office gossip

Office gossip may be intriguing, but most of the time, they’re nasty. By spreading it, you’re causing reputational damage to an employee. It will also cause the gradual erosion of trust and morale for everyone involved and divisiveness that produces warring factions.

Curb rumors by discouraging conversations that revolve around them. Employees should practice this even more if the person discussed isn’t present. 

6. Promote cross-functional collaboration

By allowing employees from different departments to work together, you’re breaking down office silos. As they work on a project or a specific goal, they share knowledge and resources and understand their roles in the organization. For example, the project is launching a new website. The IT and marketing departments can collaborate and learn about and from each other. 

7. Set up team-building exercises

Team activities are great for making connections within the company. Everyone can develop strong interpersonal communication that boosts respect for each other and decreases workplace politics. These exercises can range from games and happy hours to professional development training and awareness seminars. 

8. Keep the focus on the organization’s goals

One of the best ways to curb office politics is by diminishing the influence of personalities and instead focusing on a higher order, such as the organization’s goals. 

Having a clear goal helps your team focus and understand their role in the organization better. It also puts into perspective how individual work contributes to these objectives—being aware of how and why their work matters can lead to greater engagement and higher morale, cutting out the need for endless politicking for a position.

How to Handle Office Politics in a Remote Workplace

Even when you’re working remotely, you can’t escape office politics. Research presents that instances of office politics may have decreased in the online environment, but it’s still present. There can be a lack of peer support, the feeling of being an outsider, and office credit-grabbing.

Collaboration between teams should be more frequent to avoid these scenarios, whether formally working on a project or having fun in a virtual team engagement. 

When teams work remotely, it’s more difficult to earn the trust and respect of colleagues. For example, employees who have worked together onsite can alienate those working remotely. Colleagues can make changes on a project without giving other team members a heads up, which is disrespectful. 

Invest in strategic relationships. In a virtual work environment, building relationships is important. Encourage leaders to share their knowledge and emotional support among their team. Host online coffee meetings where the only agenda is catching up with colleagues. 

When conflict arises, it’s best to resolve issues with open communication, compromise, and respect. In achievements and faults, recognize everyone diplomatically to promote fairness and inhibit office politics. 

Reduce Organizational Division

Office politics and workplace cliques hinder communication and interaction. By understanding the steps you need to take to break down barriers, you can help your employees thrive and reach their maximum potential within your organization. 

Manage office politics healthily with the help of a recruitment agency in the Philippines. Manila Recruitment can help you handle people management, especially with offshore and outsourced teams. Uplift your organization and push individual performance by contacting Manila Recruitment today