Bully at Work Moody Boss Karma Office Gossip No Picnic Back stabber Plug your Ears Moody Boss

Our office supposedly doesn’t have “office politics”

Dear Office-Politics,

If you are coined “political” that’s negative in the company. What this means if you perceive a slight (which could be very real) by co-workers and bring it up then you are political. Everything is supposedly “clear” and politics don’t enter in. Well I find this hard to believe when I hired someone and another group director took over their introduction, their time and never asked me if it was okay. Having some of the employee’s time was permissable since I’m in the middle of developing accounts and business, etc. However, throughout this entire time, I am made to work alone, whilst the other director has 8 people and shows accolades of appreciation for my employee. More so than anyone else at any given time. Isn’t that political? When I mention it to my boss…I become political and am seen as trying to complicate things.


timothy johnson

Dear No-Office-Politics-Here,

Every workplace has office politics, and every person in a job is political (whether they will admit it or not).

In my new book, GUST – The “Tale” Wind of Office Politics, I identify three kinds of politicians: Snakes, Ostriches, and Bears. We’re all familiar with snake politicians; they are the back-stabbers and the manipulators and the gossipers and the saboteurs. It sounds like your colleague may be a snake, if s/he is stealing resources right out from under your nose.

Your boss, on the other hand, sounds like an ostrich, who hides their head in the sand of denial or disengagement.

As I tell my students and my consulting clients alike: Be The Bear. This is the sensible politician who understands the dynamics of what is going on in the workplace and develops a strategy that is appropriate for the situation and the climate. Just as a bear in the wild generally doesn’t attack unprovoked, a bear politician will only play the game to go on the defensive or to proactively go on the offensive against a perceived snake or ostrich. So repeat after me: Be The Bear. Be The Bear. Be The Bear. Now give us a big growl. Good.

But how do you become the bear? Good question. Instead of accusing your colleague of stealing your new resource and crying the political alarm (which appears to be a hot button in itself at your job), develop a list of specific items that could use the skills of the new resource. Go to your boss and ask (don’t tell) whether the resource – your resource – is available to assist you on those specific deliverables. Then, keep the list going. If this is truly your resource, and you hired this individual eventually to help you with your workload, then it’s time to play “asset repossessor.” But do so in a way that is sensitive to the organization. If your boss will not help you extricate this individual from your colleague, and if s/he is part of your budget, then ask if you can hire a different resource since you had budgeted for this one and s/he is no longer available for you to use (note: I did not say “stolen from you”).

It sounds like you inadvertently let this resource be taken from you because of your workload when they came on board. So be more careful on the next resource and ensure that you have justified the need for them, and that you are able to keep them busy doing your work rather than loaning them out to another manager until you have time to work with them.

Just as you wouldn’t leave your wallet lying out on the table unattended at a busy restaurant, it is unwise to leave resources “lying around” unattended in an office setting, since many of us are being challenged to “do more with less.

Thank you for writing Office Politics.

Best wishes,

Timothy Johnson, Author

Timothy Johnson is the author of the newly released Gust: The “Tale” Wind of Office Politics (Lexicon, 2007) as well as Race Through The Forest – A Project Management Fable (Tiberius, 2006). As Chief Accomplishment Officer for his company, Carpe Factum, Inc. (Latin for “Seize The Accomplishment”), he also is a dynamic speaker, providing keynotes and workshops on the accomplishment-oriented topics of project management, creativity, process improvement, systems thinking, and (of course) office politics. His consulting clients have crossed multiple industries and have included Wells Fargo, Harley-Davidson, ING, Teva NeuroScience, and Principal Financial Group. In addition to writing, consulting, speaking, and coaching, he is also an adjunct instructor for Drake University’s MBA program in Des Moines Iowa, teaching classes in Project Management, Creativity for Business, and Managing Office Politics.

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