How do you learn/understand how office politics works?

(7 Posts)
Jemster Wed 03-Jul-13 17:24:44

Hi
This is my first post here and after a rubbish, stressful day at work I would appreciate some advice. I work in HR and am keen to learn and progress but I just don't understand the internal politics and there seems to be so much of it. My boss is controlling about what work she gives me and keeps alluding to certain situations that are 'sensitive' or 'ones to watch' as she calls them. She is always talking about people's 'agendas' but I really don't know what she is talking about half the time and she won't elaborate as it is senior stuff.
It all seems like a big game to me and I'm wondering how do you get clued up on this sort of stuff as I reckon I can't progress without 'playing the game'!
Help!

carabossse Wed 03-Jul-13 17:49:57

It sounds like your boss enjoys posturing to the junior member of staff.

Essentially, you learn the culture by watching what happens to whom. It'll not be consistent, and often won't match official company policy.

This guy has written loads of great books. "Power at work" may be a good one for you. The reviews should help identify which would be useful for you.
www.amazon.co.uk/Jo-Owen/e/B001IXSE4M/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

RedPencils Wed 03-Jul-13 17:55:18

All offices are different. Your boss sounds like a bit of an idiot, showing off to you how important they are.

Just keep watching what's going on and you'll soon pick it up.

tazmo Wed 03-Jul-13 19:17:19

It takes experience tbh...took me well over 7-8 years and it depends on characters in your dept. often wondered if hr are truly impartial. Did management training once and hr told me they were there to mainly support the managers! Made me wary of hr after that must admit. I'd like to think hr was impartial to all employees, however.....

Jemster Wed 03-Jul-13 20:01:28

Thanks. Another thing she does is constantly chop and change her opinions on things depending on who she's talking to. She agrees with everything one of the directors says even if I know she doesn't really agree.
I suppose this is what you have to do is it to get on? Basically suck up to the boss and agree even if you don't! I'm not sure I'm going to get very far as I am not manipulative at all which is what this all seems to me.

BriansBrain Wed 03-Jul-13 22:15:11

Jemstar it takes time to work out office dynamics, don't be put off by the path your boss has chosen to take!

If your boss is just nodding and agreeing with the director then he/she may not be confident in believing the Director will care or has the respect to listen to him/her.

It takes experience and bravery to put your opinion out there when you know it's it of the same thinking of Managers above you.

HR are in place to protect the company/Managers from making expensive employment errors this doesn't mean they aren't impartial in making sure all s how it should be.

flowery Wed 03-Jul-13 23:25:28

Jemster I would agree with others' assessment of your boss! I don't think you need to be manipulative to get on. I think the best way to deal with office politics is to be aware of it, which involves a lot of watching and listening and observing, but ultimately to rise above it.

Interesting point of view that HR should be 'truly impartial' tazmo but entirely unrealistic. HR are paid by management and work for and on behalf of the employer, simple as that.

They can be a good source of support and information, and the fact that the reason they are paid by management is to protect management from claims and to help management run the business effectively means that a lot of what they do and say is in the interests of employees, but that certainly doesn't make them impartial.

If anyone wants independent impartial advice about an employment situation, look outside your own workplace.

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