Workplaces can be full of petty politics and crab in a barrel syndrome. Here are a few scenarios that demonstrate the point, and tips on how to deal with them.
Scenario: Whose side are you on?
When you’re in a petty politics environment at work, then you’re often expected to choose sides. Just like a school playground, the pressure’s on to take sides with the dominant or popular group.
Tip: Stay neutral
Staying neutral doesn’t mean not being engaged. Rather, speak up only when you feel you have something positive to say. Don’t fall into the trap of picking one group over another. Each side or group, will have positive and negative aspects. Focus on the positive with both and you’ll be able to hold the middle ground.
Scenario: Inept supervisors and managers
We’ve all had them or dealt with them. Very often they got the job for no other reason than they’re in with the boss. But they don’t have the skills, expertise or training to do the job well.
Tip: Be the change
It’s very easy to criticise the inept supervisor or manager. Yet if you look deeper you can see that what they’re really feeling is insecure. When you notice them taking charge or communicating effectively (no matter how infrequently) say something positive.
Your subtle encouragement and willingness to enter into dialogue can actually shift how they behave in the workplace. It also positions you favourably too.
Scenario: The rules change daily
When a business is struggling, you often find the boss, managers or supervisors running around like headless chickens. They are constantly in fighting fires mode. Your job description or role is apt to change on a daily or weekly basis as a result. This scenario often breeds resentment and in fighting.
Tip: Act strategically
In this scenario it’s very easy to become out of balance. You have a choice here. You can either be resentful and frustrated, or you can be a part of the solution. This is the perfect time to step up your role in the company.
Listen strategically during meetings or conversations, and see what you can contribute that will improve the situation. Ensure you carry out all essential tasks as directed, and share workloads with colleagues. Remember, it’s within your rights to say no to some things. Just make sure you remain flexible and say yes when needed.
Scenario: The grab for the top spot
Has someone in a position of leadership left the company? Has their role opened up? It must mean promotion time! This is when toxic behaviour can really reveal itself!
Tip: Avoid the drama
Crab in the barrel syndrome can run rife at these times. Be the barrel! In other words be the neutral observer of what’s happening. Take a position of leadership and stay calm. If the new position is one that appeals to you, speak directly with those in charge of hiring.
Further build on those relationships by finding out what exactly it is they’re looking for. If you feel you have those skills and qualities then demonstrate them. Whether you get the promotion or not, you will have been noticed for any future promotions.
Scenario: You’re being ostracised
If you don’t tow the party line or follow the rules of engagement you can find yourself left out in the cold. Your unwillingness to engage in petty or bullying behaviour can leave you exposed.
Tip: Focus on your goals
The question you need to ask yourself in this situation is: “Am I simply here to make work friends or am I here to achieve my goals?” If this type of petty behaviour is going on around you, it doesn’t have to reflect negatively on you. If you choose to take these kinds of childish actions personally, only then can they impact you. Remain affable and disengage from the nonsense.
Gravitate towards those who also refuse to engage and build a team mentality with those of like-mind. If it persists, be willing to look elsewhere. If you do choose to leave, don’t do it out a sense of defeat. Take charge and decide to create a better life for yourself by finding a better working environment.
What’s Next? Talk with others. Take action.
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