INT 097: How to Navigate Office Politics No Matter Where You Work

Office politics can oftentimes be difficult to navigate. On today’s episode of IntHERrupt Linda talks with Sally Creel Roberts, the CHRO for NavCare, about how to navigate office politics. Sally has been in the field of HR for over 25 years. She is passionate about people, processes, and conflict resolution. She believes true leaders serve their team and succeed only when their team does.

What is politics in the workplace? 

  • From Sally’s perspective, she thinks about influence, power, perspective, alliances, and even backstabbing. 
  • Generally, most of us think negatively about office politics. 

Are office politics ever positive? 

  • Often people who have commonalities group together, and that can be important for them to have their voices heard. 
  • If you listen and observe, office politics can sometimes be positive

How should we listen and observe? 

  • From Sally’s HR perspective, it is important to be relatable.
  • Be among your team and listen to things they are not formally telling you. 

Can you avoid office politics? 

  • You can navigate politics, but you can’t avoid it. 
  • People have a tendency to have their own tribe, it’s human nature. 

How has negative office politics affected Sally? 

  • Being a woman in a leadership role, she has experienced times where she has been excluded from going to lunch or making a decision. 
  • She has felt sabotaged and not appreciated. 
  • She learned to not get mad, and instead say “I’m not sure I was part of that discussion, can you catch me up on it?” 

How has positive office politics affected Sally? 

  • Office politics has made Sally aware that she needs to communicate and be transparent. 
  • Sally suggests that when you are making decisions, always include people who are going to be impacted. 
  • Sally has learned that it is important to listen to concerns because people appreciate being heard. 

How does Sally navigate office politics?

  • Keep a level head, and try to understand someone’s perspective because their perspective is their truth.
  • Know your culture without being judgemental. 
  • If you are willing to compromise for the best outcome, people are going to listen. 

How do you deal with office cliques? 

  • Sally likes to get to know all the employees. She recognizes that she might not be a part of the clique but expresses interest and isn’t scared to interact with them. 
  • She shows interest in everyone. 

What would Sally say to women who want to be in a leadership role? 

  • Know your industry. Read articles, look things up, and come to meetings prepared to provide valuable input. 
  • Be willing to learn, listen, and invest the time. 
  • Communicate that you would like to do something more. Take on projects and volunteer. 

Has Sally ever been interrupted? 

  • Yes! There have been points in her career where she thought she was doing well but didn’t get noticed or appreciated. 
  • She has responded by graciously accepting feedback, respecting authority, and learning from the situation. 

For more content and information from Sally, connect with her on Linkedin. Do you have stories to tell? Connect with Linda to share them. This podcast is produced by TSE Studios. Check out other podcasts by TSE Studios, including this episode’s sponsor, The Sales Evangelist, helping new and struggling sellers close more deals and achieve their sales goals. Subscribe to the IntHERrupt Podcast so you won’t miss a single show. Find us on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher. Audio created by Ryan Rasmussen Productions.

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