Politics is a way of life. That’s why it has been argued by political scientists that humans cannot afford to be apolitical. Right from birth when a new baby joins the family of a couple—the husband and wife— the theory of two-against-one applies where the child leans better towards either of its father of mother. When another child joins the family, the theory becomes two-against-two or three-against-one depending on the level of interpersonal communication and relationship which either of the parents employs on the kids.
From this stage, politics goes on and on till a child gets to the school age, peer group stage up to the full-fledged adult in the society. Generally speaking, politics is about controlling other people or group for personal interests. And so it is from micro-family level to any stage of sociological interaction.
Office politics "is the use of one's individual or assigned power within an employing organization for the purpose of obtaining advantages beyond one's legitimate authority. Those advantages may include access to tangible assets, or intangible benefits such as status or pseudo-authority that influences the behavior of others. Both individuals and groups may engage in Office Politics."( Office Politics, by Marilyn Haight, BigBadBoss.com)
Office politics is a psuedo-political arena where people seem to assume authority (or power) to control, direct or gain opportunities or even oppress others. In the words of Kelly Pate Dwyer “ office politics is simply about getting from here to there: securing a promotion, seeing an idea come to fruition, or gaining support to make an organizational change. Playing the game well is about defending your position, earning respect, exchanging favors, and keeping your sanity amid the chaos. To get started, you need to know what you really want from work, then orient your political moves toward those goals”.
Workers in corporate establishments are always categorized into senior and junior workers. Some split it into three namely—junior workers, middle-level workers and senior workers but generally and ideologically speaking, most offices have two basic types of employees namely: the soldier employees and the lieutenant employees.
Any staff can be a soldier since they represent the organisation. But only few selected ones are lieutenants—they are the ‘anointed’, the megaphone and the stamped authorities whose toes must not be stepped on.
Soldiers could be managers who are assigned specific duties to be carried out in their departments or units. They may or may not be rewarded for their efforts, ideas and initiatives. Most times, successful projects of the soldiers are attributed to the lieutenants especially when one’s boss is the bullying type. Some of the symptoms of a bullying boss/employer are the following:
- Bringing you down in the presence of other employees especially the junior staff with negative comments.
- Gradually withdrawing time, facilities, resources, materials and other enhancers of your job productivity
- Sending negative text massages, memos, reminders and phone calls and getting angry at everything you do.
- Giving targets that cannot be met by you and constantly reminding you of it
- Lack of recognition even when you have accomplished a praise-worthy feat
- Throwing your ideas into the trash bin. When similar ideas are moved by a lieutenant in another colouration, songs of praise abound.
- Keeping your ideas or proposal and later repackaging and using it behind your back.
- Endurance is key if you intend to keep the job
- Document your ideas (make it big by packaging in form of memo, research, letters, seminars…)
- Document your achievements for the day of reckoning.
- If your ideas/proposals are to go out, let several trusted colleagues know that you are the originator of such ideas lest it is hijacked.
- Maintain good PR with all departments/units as much as possible
- Don’t sell your ideas cheaply especially where people pretend as if such ideas are worthless. However little your ideas are, they worth more than you may initially imagine.
- Don’t discuss new ideas privately in an office where such will not be appreciated or may used behind your back
- If your bullying boss doesn’t desist despite your cool-headedness and silence when he rants, find a suitable time to discuss with him privately to reach a compromise.
- When your boss is your employer or a lieutenant and has rendered you doing almost nothing (the organization can do without you). Be on the look-out for another job because your days are numbered.
Mr Idris Katib is a Public Relations/Advertising practitioner based in Abeokuta, Ogun State, South-west Nigeria and can be reached via email@example.com