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How to wade through workplace politics

By PAUL KARIUKI | July 1st 2016

NAIROBI: Most organisations have their fair share of workplace politics. And if you are not aware of how to navigate through this, you can end up ruining your career.

James Macharia, an employee with an organisation in Nairobi, says his workplace is characterised by employees aligned to either of two leaders jostling for supremacy.

Unfortunately, workers end up feeling victimised when it comes to being assigned duties, which they feel depends on the leader they are aligned to. Promotions and demotions are also hinged on alignment more than merit.

According to Paul Gatu, a manager at a company in Nakuru, such politics creates minefields many new employees unknowingly wade into, jeopardising their work prospects.

“You may be involved in a project and the success of it, as well as that of your team, may be informed by how you relate with others,” he said, adding that work-related objectives and personal factors often lead to a clash of interests.

“You may notice individuals or a team working against each other in the same organisation as if there’s a competition of sorts. They end up looking to satisfy their needs or objectives at the expense of the organisation’s greater goals,” Mr Gatu said.

He underscored that workplace politics are against an organisation’s structure, but are often inevitable as individuals aim to exercise or exert influence over others.

Office gossip

To navigate the uncertainty at his office, Mr Macharia has cultivated a good relationship across all hierarchies, which has seen him get along with all cadres of employees.

He also steers clear of office gossip and rumours, and avoids passing judgement on situations when asked to weigh in on something.

George Mullo, who works in human resources, said employees should strive to rise above conflict.

“Keep off engaging in arguments and instead have the organisation’s — not your own — perspective when voicing opinions, objections or complaints,” he said.

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