Are you playing politics at work?

There are 2 parts to every job.


Part A: Doing the job. That is, the things that you do that you get paid for - producing results.

Part B: All the things you do to get the job done. That is, the politics of performing your job.

There three characteristics of all job roles that are universal:

1.      Part A does not tolerate a vacuum and in the absence of the external pressure of Part B, will naturally expand.


2.      Both parts always exist in every job in an organisation larger than 1 person - it is just the size of each part that will vary.


3.      Part B exerts pressure inwards to reduce the expansion of Part A and Part A exerts pressure outwards to minimise the impact of Part B.

Many people say they like to just focus on getting the job done and have no time for politics - the Part B.

In many organisations, the Part B is much bigger than Part A. You would define those as bureaucratic or dysfunctional - depending on the type of organisation and how kind you are.

If you are legitimately interested in increasing your productive output - the Part A of your job, then you have two strategies that you can follow.

Option 1: You can choose to be inside Part A and push out (to increase the size of the bubble).

Option 2: Or you can be inside part B - and focus on removing the obstacles and pressure points that prevent Part A from naturally expanding.

Many people naturally will go for option 1. But the sad fact is that it is not effective. It is better for you to 'play the politics' necessary to buy you the space and time to perform Part A - option 2.

Ultimately you will get promoted on the size of Part A. But you cannot increase Part A - performance - if you do not balance that with a good dose of Part B - politics.

Sometimes you will hear employees complain that someone got promoted because of they 'just play politics'. Whilst occasionally this may the case, the reality is that they probably outperformed the other candidates because they played some politics - and got more work done as a result.

The benefits of playing politics are that you get buy-in for your projects; it increases the understanding of the issues you face and gets people 'on side'.


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