Tuesday June 12th, 2018
It’s no secret that workplace politics exist in every office around the globe. When people of varying backgrounds with different styles and standards come together in one office, there are bound to be differences of opinions. And when workplace politics go unchecked, they can really wreak havoc on not only your company culture, but your also your bottom line. Toxic work environments can lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in employee turnover rates.
With that in mind, it’s important to learn how to stop the workplace politics in their tracks before they have the chance to create a culture that encourages unhealthy discourse and relationships.
Opening up to your employees doesn’t necessarily mean sharing your deepest darkest secrets with them. But it does mean opening the lines of communication from management to staff and promoting a sense of transparency amongst your team.
Communication is about building trust, and trust is an important foundation of any relationship, including the ones formed in the workplace. Communicate openly with your team about everything that could impact their daily life at work. If you are making important changes, don’t wait until the rumor has been passed around the office, inevitably being distorted on its way. Address the issues up front with your team and communicate your reasons for making those changes, as well as your expectations for how they will impact the workplace.
Addressing important issues in an open manner that is fully transparent to your employees will eliminate a lot of that watercooler gossip that plants toxic seeds of negativity amongst your team. Never leave your employees wondering about what’s happening within the office or what your motives are, as doubt will grow into mistrust which will fuel a lot of the workplace politics you’re trying to avoid.
Many managers feel they can’t show an ounce of emotion, empathy or compassion with their employees, and unfortunately this makes it difficult for employees to relate to leadership. The stronger your bonds with your staff, and the stronger their bonds with each other, the more likely they are to foster positive attitudes.
It’s important to be a real person, to celebrate victories and console losses when needed and to nurture a genuine human connection amongst your team. You can and must display human emotions to build relationships and establish trust, but it cannot be at the expense of company standards. The rules will always be the rules, and your job is to maintain order within the company, but don’t be afraid to be yourself and allow your employees to get to know you on a deeper level. It will only encourage the type of bonds that lead to loyalty and trust.
Ultimately, a workplace that isn’t mired in politics is one that is built on healthy relationships from top to bottom. And while you can’t force anyone to change their behavior or adopt your way of thinking, you can and should make it your responsibility to foster healthy relationships within the company. Lead by example and demonstrate healthy communication and mutual respect and discuss your goals for the company with your team.
Build a team of great communicators who value your company standards by setting a priority for new hires that includes not only the right talent, but also the right personalities. Protect your company culture by ensuring that the development of healthy relationships is just as important during your onboarding process as job training itself. By establishing the highest standards for healthy interaction and relationships from day one, you will eliminate a lot of the workplace politics that could take place later.
It’s true that you may never eradicate workplace politics entirely from your office – there may always be someone who just wants to stir up some negativity. But by taking the steps to demonstrate and provide opportunities for your employees to get more involved in important conversations and develop bonds built on trust, you will certainly find that workplace politics are barely a concern in the future.