Playing Politics In The Office

Much like the presidential election season, the office can be full of opinionated go-getters, sneaky back-stabbers and public relations nightmares. As the democratic primary season rolls along, the parallels between the presidential campaigns and the inter-workings of the workplace are very interesting. See if you can spot any similarities in your company.

First, in most cases, the workplace can be drawn into two sides, much like America’s predominantly 2-party system. Often, two factions emerge during a project or within an organization that pull for different, and sometimes conflicting, ideas and policies.

These factions can call for anything from strictly decaf in the coffee maker to more flexible schedules for working parents – both issues that can have two sides. And there’s usually a third group represented who may want hot chocolate or flexible schedules for dog owners, but they have little backing and generally do not get the support needed for their ideas to survive – or even make it to the boss’s desk.

Even within those factions, strong figures can emerge – much like Obama and Clinton – who further polarize the group. Perhaps, in the working parents group, Danny wants more consideration for his 3 kids and long commute, while Sally thinks her 2 kids and much shorter commute deserve the same consideration.

Then, there is campaigning. When your coworker is busy pushing the boss for that promotion you’ve been dying to have, much like the election, personal attacks or behind-the-back sabotage can ensue. Perhaps your boss would be interested to know that your coworker never works weekends or picks up extra assignments. Maybe someone will let it slip that you always take a nap from 3:10-3:45. In both cases, workers are using less-than-ethical tactics to reach the top, something we see very often in presidential elections.

These kinds of issues are prevalent in today’s workplace and often bring with them the same kind of politics seen in elections. If you are not well-liked – like in elections – you may not get the support from your coworkers needed to get your idea to fly. If you say the wrong thing to your next-door cubical worker – just like a candidate to the media – you may never live it down.

What other parallels can be drawn? What do you see in your workplace?


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