How Should HR Handle Workplace Politics?
Your company’s success depends heavily upon whether your employees are satisfied - and divisive workplace politics puts their satisfaction at risk. Everybody comes to the office with their own goals and aspirations - and to meet their goals, there is often negotiation and compromising involved. Otherwise known as - yes, politics!
You really can’t avoid politics in the office, but things take a turn for the worse when employee’s agendas aren’t aligned with the company’s values and when they don’t respect other staff. So, can problematic workplace politics be avoided? And, if not, how can you reduce the side effects? We’ll examine all this and more!
Is Your Workplace Highly Political?
Every workplace is political. There is no escaping it in this day and age. With everyone being exposed to the news 24/7, there is no way that your employees won’t have opinions when they walk in. Everyone has their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas about how things should work, whether that be the outside world or the office space.
To an extent, this is to be expected. Not everyone’s beliefs will line up, and this will create some friction. Nobody likes to feel insignificant, which disagreements can cause. At work, we all want to accrue and exhibit success, and this is normal. However, to do so at the cost of someone else’s happiness or success is when things start to get messy.
Where this can take a dark turn is when influence is concerned. The company is an entity with finite resources. Those in power will seek to steer the ship a certain way - towards greater success. People who don’t agree with the directions or methods can be let go or persuaded. This persuasion or influence can be straightforward or underhanded.
Underhanded tactics focus on taking power away from others, and when this happens, the entire company suffers. The workplace is at its strongest when everyone has equal agency. When teams and individuals compete for the same resources and play tricks on each other to win, then you have a problem worthy of a closer look. How would you deal with politics in the workplace? We give you some ways of dealing with it in the following section.
Tips for Office Politics
There are a few ways you, as an HR manager, can deal with workplace politics. To do this, you need to play a careful balancing game - you need to keep your finger on the pulse of the office. Let us help you identify the many kinds of office politicians you will find along the way and how to deal with them.
1. Gossip Central
You will find a few people like this in every workplace. They thrive on knowing everything about everyone and then spreading this sensitive information. It gives them a sense of power to do this, and the first thing you need to do is to identify these people. Other than reprimanding, you should tell your employees how to deal with them - engage on professional topics only and keep private lives out of the discussion.
2. Credit Chameleon
This is a person who is aggressively motivated to get better results for himself, to the point of claiming credit for results achieved by someone else. This sort of behaviour might cost someone a well-earned and much-needed promotion and thus needs to be nipped in the bud.
Encourage your employees to speak up about their ideas and results in front of others and to provide constant updates directly to their supervisors. If you take away the source of their ideas, then they have nothing. If this sort of behaviour continues despite warnings, consider letting them go.
3. Mr. Brown-nose
This person will use flattery as a means of getting people to like them or do things for them. They give out compliments like it’s nobody’s business, and there is almost always an agenda behind it. However, it is quite easy to tell when a person is facetious in this manner, and the best course of action to take is to simply ignore them.
4. The Backstabber
This is an archetype more malicious than simple credit stealing. No, these are the sort of people who will sabotage the work of others and throw their coworkers and teammates under the bus whenever it most suits their needs. These people are also liable to never take the blame themselves and will always find a way to deflect it.
There is no good way to deal with people like these other than straight confrontations, and then too, you need to be stern with your reprimands. This sort of person can easily be toxic and bring the whole workplace down. More often than not, it is best to let them go.
5. The Leader
This is someone with a lot of strong opinions that they are not afraid to voice out loud. They are persuasive but have a closed mind. Anyone who does not agree with their ideas is deemed unworthy. The best way to deal with them is to open them up to other voices, speaking up to them, and convincing them that a workplace is not a forum for authoritarianism.
Different perspectives lead to success, and they are part of the team at the end of the day. Do your best not to antagonize them, though, as they can very easily sway popular opinion against you.
6. The Consigliere
Every workplace has that one person that the company leaders confide in and turn to for advice. This is the consigliere. Dependable and trustworthy, they know a lot of things about a lot of people but, unlike a gossip dealer, don't share this information. This is someone you want on your side precisely because of their breadth of insight and knowledge.
This person, because they have a lot of influence with the people that matter, can serve as the bridge you need to get through to people and affect proper change in the workplace as it pertains to workplace politics.
Avoid the Hassle by Making the Best Hiring Decisions
Wading through the mire of office politics is something that every HR manager needs to learn to do. The dynamics will change and shift throughout the years as new blood comes in and the seniors either retire or migrate, but you can always count on the workplace to produce a healthy amount of these prominent archetypes.
However, with some investment and planning, you can avoid this hassle altogether. Enter Talenteria. We offer tools to help you make the best hiring decisions in line with the pledges of your company. We know the importance of building the perfect team, and we offer the best recruitment marketing tools. Contact us today to learn more about what we have to offer!