Office politics are one of the most frustrating things in the business world.  There are people that live for this challenge.  However, they are often seen as detrimental to productivity.  We even have some arguments that this as something that needs to be removed from typical work experiences.

The Value Of Different Voices

One of the essential attributes of office politics is that an organization has multiple opinions on a topic.  There are examples we can look at that are purely self-serving.  However, let’s refer to that as scheming rather than office politics.  Therefore, I do not include people trying solely to protect their job or extend their fiefdom as part of this discussion.

We can all agree that people have different viewpoints, opinions, and beliefs.  These attributes add up to different points-of-view.  A different point of view can block someone from understanding a fundamental truth.  On the other hand, it can be required for the group to understand a topic better.  The fact that an organization has people voicing different opinions via office politics is a net good thing in my opinion.  Groupthink or silent dissension is never healthy in the long-run.

Put Up or Shut Up

A second highly valuable result of office politics is that it often generates debate.  We have seen numerous examples of organizations falling into a rut.  They end up doing things because that’s the way they were always done.  We also know these situations are not healthy.  An organization that is set in its ways is not going to grow.  The debates brought about by office politics can be a sign of a vibrant organization.  For example, it displays people unafraid to express their opinions and even fight for them.

Self Reflection

None of us are perfect.  We make mistakes.  Those facts mean we all have opportunities to grow and get better.  Therefore, anything that nudges us to reflect on our current situation (singly or as an organization) has the possibility of pointing us towards an improved path.  These internal debates can be exhausting.  However, it can be argued that nothing worthwhile is easy.

Episode Challenge: What did you learn from your recent office politics experiences?

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Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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