5 Secrets to Managing Office Politics learnt from #Ausvotes

By / July 4, 2016 / , / 0 Comments

It’s over! The Australian Federal Election 2016 has been completed! The result: Inconclusive.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t start learning from the whole crazy process. Whilst most of us play only a small part in federal politics, we all play a part in something a lot more localised – office politics.

Here’s 5 secrets to becoming an expert office politician based on key events in the #ausvotes federal election:

#1: Everyone has an opinion

Even though we’re not all experts in international diplomacy, economics, immigration or government, we all have an opinion about topics we hear about – sometimes inexplicably strong opinions at that!

Just because team members don’t have the knowledge or expertise to truly understand an office issue doesn’t mean they won’t feel strongly about it. If you want to keep these employees on your side, educate them about the issues and why decisions have been made.

It can be a difficult discussion to have, but if you’re the one who’s helping others understand (not just spreading gossip) then you’ll be trusted, liked and respected a lot more by the rest of the team. For those of you in HR, it’ll help breakdown the rumour-mill and prevent any arguments too.

#2: Perceptions are more important than facts

Unfortunately for the Coalition this election, the fact that #Mediscare was not necessarily based on any hard evidence didn’t stop a lot of people from perceiving a real threat to their healthcare system.

Some have argued this may have been due to a lack of trust in the current government. Others that it’s due to miscommunication and a lack of information on the topic.

No matter the cause, it’s these perceptions that shape every person’s reality. It’s not enough to provide hard numbers, stats and facts – you also need to convince people that what you are saying is accurate (can I trust you?), understandable (does this make sense to me?) and above all, clearly communicated directly to the right people (to ensure no miscommunication).

#3: It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it

When the final votes were tallied on Saturday night, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten knew there would be no clear winner decided. Turnbull decided not to give a roaring victory speech (or a sullen admission of defeat). Instead, he opted for a short, to the point message to wait until the votes were tallied. Shorten opted to spin the lack of result as a win either way for Labor, who were in a difficult position leading up to the election.

Immediately, Turnbull received backlash for his lack of enthusiasm, detail or any form of morale-boosting messages for his party’s supporters. Whilst Shorten wasn’t exactly praised for his speech, it was still perceived as comparatively more acceptable by the public.

If you need to communicate something, no matter how simple it is, make sure you’re doing it in an appropriate way. Just like you wouldn’t console an employee who has lost a loved one with a big smile on your face, neither should you talk about their future career plans in anything but a positive, enthusiastic light (especially if you’re a manager or in HR!).

#4: Your office is not a democracy

We’ve seen some pretty heated criticisms laid against every politician, voter, business owner and lobbyist this election. Social media seems only to amplify these criticisms and make the whole process more visible.

Whilst your office should be a place where you can share ideas freely, discuss your future openly and be yourself, don’t be under any illusions – it is not a democracy.

If you’re ever on the receiving end of bullying, harassment or hassles in the workplace, you should talk to the relevant support person and have the infringing person reprimanded. Of course, if you’re in HR, and this is part of your jurisdiction, you already know all of the proper processes for getting these issues resolved – just remember that these issues issues need to be resolved for you too!

Conversely, if you’re ever tempted to get involved in any nasty office politics yourself, remember that most organisations have a zero-tolerance policy for workplace bullying and harassment. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself quickly ‘voted’ out of the office by your boss!

#5: Don’t let politics steal your focus

Perhaps the biggest thing we’ve learnt from this election is that all the campaigning, debating, and arguing is a big distraction from our real work and interests.

Whilst it’s important to be informed, have your say and make a positive impact, remember the real reason why you’re in your job. Don’t let politics get in the way of doing what you’re really great at, doing it well and enjoying coming in to the office.

As always, please remember that the tweets embedded in this post don’t reflect our political views – we’ll leave THAT discussion to those in a better position to comment! Likewise, please keep your comments HR related rather than federal politics-related.