As I was turning the pages of a book titled "Helping Managers Navigate Careers" by Bimal Rath, I came across an interesting story. A Head of a department was recently hired through external sourcing. He had a great track record in his earlier organization. But his performance has been below expectations in the new organization. During his coaching sessions, he talks about being a victim of organization politics. The case goes on:
"...(he) had made some assumptions about his own welcome into the organization - that all would invite him with open arms - and he was not able to accept that this expectation was not to be met. To some degree, it was being politically naïve..."
Often, people seek instant acceptance from others. Seeking instant gratification is common among the millennial. Lack of acceptance creates anxiety. Politically naïve people deal with this situation in two ways.
1. They tend not to value workplace relationships anymore.
2. They ponder over it a lot and give a lot of effort just to reverse the situation.
The first group of people become highly successful in an individual-focused organization. But in a team setting, their don't-care attitude towards others leads to an overall dissatisfaction and disengagement and often ends with reduced team productivity. For the second group of people, the impact is more straight-forward. It affects the individual's overall performance directly.
It turns out, political naïvety is not rare. Even I have been politically naïve at times. I fall into the second group of people, where most of my effort goes into correcting others' perception of me. This has caused visible stress and lowered my productivity similar to what happened with the protagonist of the story. Subsequently, the coach helps the person realize that not everyone would be 'nice' and 'collaborative'. Accepting this reduces the burden one puts on himself/herself. Jealousy, politics and competition are common in organizational life. Ignoring these is not a solution. But one cannot let these organisational constructs affect his/her ability to perform.
The other day, my colleague was telling the same thing - "when you are new to an organization, don't take anyone's words to your heart. Observe their ways of communication. Empathize with their state of mind by putting yourself in their shoes." I cannot agree more with him.
Organization politics can be overwhelming when someone joins a new organization. But don't let your colleagues upset you. Given enough time, everything will fall into place. Until then, keep observing others and empathise with them.