managing political situations

Tips for managing political situations

How do you manage political situation that cause problems for your project? Here are my tips for managing political situations to get what you need.

Political situations arise when there are people or groups that feel they have power over others.  Do you see people within your team or the broader context of the business that feel they have more power over you?  Is this something that you have thought about.

In the book titled ‘Workplace Politics Handbook the author asks you to look at ‘What’s your perception?’

He provides this list of words you may associate with organisational politics:

  • manipulation
  • blame
  • power
  • coercion
  • working with allies
  • being clever
  • back stabbing
  • string pulling
  • Gossiping
  • Getting things done
  • Bypassing bureaucracy
  • Stolen ideas
  • Influence
  • Game playing
  • Buck passing
  • Cliques
  • Networking effectively

He suggests that many of these words can be interpreted as negative.  Some are positive and many could be positive, depending on how you interpret them.

It was an interesting thing for me to sit and look at those words and how I associate them with power in the organisations that I have worked.  I have seen the ‘positive’ attributes listed as negative when I viewed the person doing them as having more power over me and therefore was being political.

I am the person who is believing the they have the power.  Is it true that they really have power over me?  Usually the answer to that honestly is no, they don’t.  I put myself in a lower position by treating them differently; by treating them as if they have all the power.

So, next time you consider there is a political situation playing out on or to do with your team, stop and ask yourself to look closely at what you are seeing and how you are reacting to it.  Notice if you are lowering yourself to a place of ‘less than’ simply based on what you think they have that you don’t.  Then check in with the reality of the situation.  You might notice that you have just as much power as you need.  You might also notice that you don’t need to get involved in any of whatever is going on, as you are comfortable with what you have in terms of ‘power’ and that you don’t need any more or less than you have.

The tips I would recommend are:

  1. Do an assessment of the situation and see who really has the power
  2. Check in with yourself to see if you are placing yourself in a lower than necessary position
  3. Look at if the person really has more power or are they simply being smart and acting in a positive way
  4. Consider the power that you need, right there and then in that moment, and ask if you have it

Power is all about perception.