Organizational politics, according to Reference.com, “is the process of using an informal network to gain power and accomplish tasks to meet a person's wants or needs. Organizational politics may be a positive practice when the greater good of the company is affected. However, it can also be negative when people promote self-interests.”
We have all been affected by organizational politics in the workplace. While they can sometimes make work life challenging, using these informal networks can be very beneficial to you and your team.
Here are some positive ways to make organizational politics work for you.
- Understand and learn about the organization. The first 90 days on the job is crucial for you to learn the “informal” organization structure. Identify people that have worked for the organization for a long time – they will know how to get things done.
And keep in mind - these individuals may not necessarily be in a position of seniority.
- Know the dynamics of organizational politics. There is a limited amount of power in an organization. As one gains power, another loses power. Find out who has had a successful program implemented recently, and get this person on your side.
- Practice helpful behaviors. Be sure to project a positive impression right from the start. Create obligations by offering to help others. Cultivate networks.
- Identify key players. The key players are the individuals that have the highest level of power to make things happen and the highest level of interest in your idea. Spend time with key players to capture support.
- Use power appropriately. Keep the organization’s goals in mind when presenting your agenda. Do what’s necessary to become a central figure in a specific area. It’s also important to align yourself with others in power and avoid “tainted” organizational members.