Imagine how you’d feel if your morning started like this: As the day begins, your leadership team is assembling for its weekly staff meeting. They’re smiling, chatting, and casually getting coffee, as they gather around the table.
Before the meeting begins, the team creates “ground rules” that include: respect, open communication, collaboration, nobody gets to be wrong, and all ideas are welcome.
Everyone at the table agrees to the rules.
The meeting begins with a review of the agenda, which everyone contributed to ahead of time. There’s input from all six departments, including how each one can help the others achieve 3rd and 4th quarter objectives. Each leader is heard and their contributions are valued.
Does this sound like a meeting in Shangri-La?
I know. It’s all too good to be true for most of us.
The reality is, morning meetings are often laden with subtext, grumblings, office politics, and power struggles. Yes, we’d all love to live in a world where the Utopian scene above is commonplace, where navigating corporate politics is easy – and where we can stand by our ideas and values without fear of repercussions.
Unfortunately, for most of us, that’s a pipe dream.
As a woman in the workplace, staying true to yourself in these situations can feel like an uphill climb. Sometimes it’s simply easier to cave to groupthink or to the pressure from the top, which can leave you feeling disingenuous as if you’ve “sold yourself out.”
Corporate politics are very real and can adversely affect the bottom line results, and can also hinder employee engagement, morale, and loyalty.
Is it possible to remain true to yourself AND navigate the complexities that naturally exist within the corporate space?
Yes, I believe it is. But, to do it takes courage, some soul searching, and a bit of work.
Staying true to your core values in the workplace begins with alignment, clarity, and checking your own assumptions.
Here are three proven ways to navigate office politics, stay true to yourself, and help your team do the same.
First – Open Communication Channels
– Starting a dialogue that seeks to get below the surface and understand each person’s intentions, motives, and concerns is crucial to opening lines of communication and minimizing the “behind the scenes” activity.
Most people truly want to work in alignment with their values, attitudes, and expectations. Communication opens up the opportunity for the team to see the situation through a different lens, which can shift perspectives and potentially build understanding.
It starts with a conversation, and a commitment to transparency, openness, and truth.
Second – Call It Out
– After the team understands where each member is “coming from,” create an agreement that outlines the way team members should interact with each other moving forward.
Establish a gentle way to “call out” anyone who reverts back to old patterns and behaviors. Remember, habits don’t change overnight.
It will take patience, practice, and diligence to create a new way of behaving within the workspace. The key is to agree to begin again every day.
Third – Check Your Own Behavior
– We all have unconscious biases toward people and situations that can cause us to have knee-jerk reactions; therefore, it’s imperative to always check your own behavior.
Ensure that you’re a model of integrity within your team. Be a confident, assertive, and positive presence at the table. Avoid whining and complaining, and never participate in office gossip.
Office politics are an inevitable part of the corporate workplace; however, you can build a culture that diminishes its effect on your team’s morale and engagement.
The trick is to create a space where people can be true to themselves and true to the organization. It starts with open communication, clear guidelines, and a willingness of each person to look within.
As a leader, what’s your biggest challenge when it comes to office politics?
I help corporate teams create better, more engaged working environments. As an executive coach who spent 15 years as a senior leader in Corporate America, I can help your team learn to navigate office politics while maintaining their integrity and allegiance to their own values.
Contact me to set up a consultation to discuss my executive coaching programs.