From November’s U.S. election, to the recent French and UK elections, it is clear how invigorating (or disheartening, worrisome or whatever you want to call it) politics can be. Office politics can get that way, too. But like it or not, office politics are alive and well in most workplaces.
At least that's what a recent Accountemps survey shows. Eighty per cent of the respondents said office politics exist in their offices. More than half (54 per cent) said they take part in office politics, and 66 per cent said "politicking" is somewhat or very necessary to get ahead, a slight five per cent decrease from a similar survey in 2012. The workers described themselves as active campaigners (10 per cent), occasional voters 44 per cent) and neutral parties (42 per cent).
Download the guide — How to Navigate Office Politics: Your Guide to Getting Ahead — and see what accounting and finance professionals have to say about office politics in this SlideShare.
While getting a promotion can feel like a competition, you’re really not in a race with your accounting and finance coworkers. And you'd never use a hammer. When it comes to office politics, the key is to keep it clean and focus on what’s best for both you and your organisation.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for winning hearts and minds in the workplace:
DO pay attention to the rumor mill
Is a senior accountant leaving the company? Are cutbacks a strong possibility in your department’s future? Were the CEO's emails hacked?
In many workplaces, you’re likely to hear rumblings around the water cooler before the news is official. Keeping your finger on your company’s pulse can help ensure you’re prepared for anything. That said, don’t believe every rumor that’s floated. Be aware but discerning.
DON’T engage in mudslinging
Keeping an ear to the ground for information about business matters is one thing, but spreading rumors about colleagues is the dark side of office politics and could land you in hot water. Telling a coworker about the bookkeeper’s promotion is OK; talking about what you heard she did at the holiday party is not. Avoid gossiping about others’ personal lives, and make it known you’re not interested in hearing those types of rumors.
DO start a grassroots campaign for support
Get to know key players throughout your organisation, and take the time to show your appreciation for their contributions. Offer to help your colleagues whenever possible, and follow up on your promises so that you build a foundation of trust.
DON’T start a smear campaign to get ahead
Taking your fair share of credit for a group project is fine, but don’t be a glory hog, credit thief or underminer. Even if you succeed in briefly shining in your manager’s eyes, this form of office politics can damaged your credibility with your peers.
DO communicate effectively
Perhaps your boss prefers discussing new projects in person, while other managers in the company like to use email as the main method of communication. Pay attention to others’ work styles, preferences and pet peeves, and do your best to be accommodating.
DON’T hog the airtime
Whether you’re the latest hire or the head of the department, doing all the talking and no listening is a sure way to lose votes of confidence. Reach out to your colleagues regularly and truly listen to what they have to say. Not only will you be showing them respect and building rapport, you’re also likely to learn a lot.
Accounting professionals can play office politics without sacrificing their values and integrity. As Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian President of Accountemps, said,“Getting involved in contentious matters at work may negatively impact how you are perceived professionally. To prevent adversely affecting your career opportunities, try to keep your distance and remain tactful and diplomatic.”
View our Office Politics Infographic from Robert Half.