Office Politics is the inevitable. If you feel uneasy with resolving conflict or looking at it in the eye, you certainly have a hurdle to jump over. Whether you believe in reincarnation, god, or simply the psychology of fear and life, they all basically say the same thing: What you fear most, will ultimately be a repeated theme in your life.
One of the reasons maneuvering politics seems a daunting task makes so many of us uneasy is that complex situations are difficult to read and impossible to control. There are personalities and then there are motivations, which co-habit within each of us and put with that limited resources, decisions, deadlines and power struggles, and anything can happen. But what if you were to take some of the guess-work out, but using a planning-based approach to managing politics? We’ve taught the same method to many male and female executives over the years. Whenever there is anxiety associated with a situation, that anxiety is usually a result of lack of control. As human beings, for better or worst, we are at ease when we have a certain degree of control. Control and predictability go hand in hand, and if one was to create predictability into the most crucial of organizational interactions, the issue of control, would inadvertently be minimized.
Here is a method you can call on for yourself, the next time you are confronted with office politics and really would like to come out of on top rather than run away from. It’s a form of scenario planning if you will, and uses the power of psychology and emotional intelligence to map out strategies in an algorithm format:
To keep up with the players and be in a position to advocate for your specific agenda, maps out potential scenarios according to three separate quadrants—personalities, motivations, and variables.
Lets say you attend an annual planning meeting that is fraught with politics. Here’s how you can do your homework. Map out the personalities involved to help you plan and strategize how each individual might react to your agenda. Then add in each individual’s motivations to analyze and compare what you believe each person would expect to accomplish. Finally, take an inventory of other relevant variables that you can anticipate. These are factors that might lead individuals to go one way or another as the meeting plays out. This process can help you create some real options, feel prepared, and remain calm and in control in most political situations rather than feeling ambushed, like a sheep among wolves.
Oh and the next time you notice politics at play, rather than maneuvering it, which implies a degree of passivity, think empowerment, and how you can play the game to come on top.