A friend remarked one day, as I told him about my ordeal at work, "You haven't really witnessed office politics. What you said about your earlier stints, is not politics at all. Office politics is worse than that. I have seen it. It can push you to quit the organization. That's the real office politics." I didn't know how to react to that remark. I barely nodded.
A new genre of politics
Office politics is the new-age "political news" that you get to hear on a daily basis if you are working. And, if you aren't working, then you'll get to hear it from the never-ending sob stories that your friends would have to share about their office. Work culture, work ethics, relationship management, human resource management etc are the new buzzwords. In the garb of these new buzzwords, what you get is ample amount of dirt thrown at you from various ends- top to bottom, bottom to top, left to right and vice versa.
You never run out of "breaking news" in this genre of politics. You get your daily dose of news, gossips, and some head turning events to look at. It acts like that chewing gum which you want to chew even after it has lost its flavor. So, while on one hand, you scream and shout at how you were treated badly or manhandled or harassed; on the other, you like to indulge in someone else's messy affair even if that is not your business.
From where does this genre get its fodder?
I have often wondered why does this kind of politics happen? Or what led to this kind of politics reach a position where it is now? When we were in school, we were taught to be competitive. The feeling of competition was imbibed in us to make us strive to achieve the best, aim for the top. Things change as you come to college. There is competition but in a healthy spirit. But, things take a different turn as you enter the job scenario.
- If you have happened to outperform the one, who was probably boss' pet, you'll be criticised for the smallest things that hold no value. Result? The pet wins hands down.
- If you are more talented than their already existing resources, there will be 'plots' played against you even before you've managed to sail through their interviews.
- And, if you are lucky enough to have joined, the existing resources would ensure that your reputation is put at stake.
Where do you stand in the hue of politics?
Circumstances mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg. Once the iceberg breaks, or melts, the circumstances become murkier and dirtier. You indeed are pushed to the extreme of either resigning from the organisation or absorbing everything like a bullet-proof jacket. Your temperament changes leaps and bounds. Your stress levels are at a peak. You tend to fight and argue with even those who have nothing to do with your current situation.
Where does the difficulty lie in having worthy competition?
Why cannot we have healthy competitions even in the job scenario? Can't there be a culture where everyone who's doing well is given a word of appreciation rather than selecting a few and rewarding them with perks. Sometimes even the smallest gestures boost a lot of confidence in the concerned person. Is that too difficult to ask for?
They say startups are building a different culture. I have read umpteen number of stories about those at the helm of organisations, who resign and start their own venture because they could not take the way things functioned in their MNCs. Yet, there are people who even talk about how startups once having got the VC funding and more start becoming like the so-called MNCs.
Do you have an answer?
I do not know which category of people, employee, employer do you belong to. What I seek is a simple answer to the question- who benefits out of the politics of office?; what do you receive in the end after having forgone your self-respect?; what kind of a person do you become in reality?; what personal achievement awaits you after having been the talk of the 'office politics'?
If you find an answer, do let me know. I will be more than happy. For I have been trying to figure out what personal joys awaits the people who engross themselves in business other than their own, who feel by pulling down the other they can climb the ladder of success, who see sweet talking the boss as the best way to ensure a promotion, and who exploit the situation of the employee to their advantage.