Social Question

Londongirl's avatar

How do you deal with Office Politic?

Asked by Londongirl (1880points) August 10th, 2011

Say you have a Head of department who doesn’t know anything and passing the balls to you all the time and when things go wrong, they blame you.

How do you handle your senior with that kind of attitude?

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25 Answers

tom_g's avatar

I have had exactly 2 really bad bosses. Both times I did the following: I walked up to their office, said, “do you have a minute?”, walked in and closed the door. I explained that doing a great job is important to me, etc. and that the boss’ current behavior was an obstacle to doing my best work. Then, I asked them if they could provide me with some suggestions on how to deal with this obstacle. In both cases, my boss’ attitude towards me changed immediately, and I was able to get back to the business of doing my job.

Results will vary.

Londongirl's avatar

My problem is they like to pass on balls back to me to deal with it. Not professional I know but what can you do…

tom_g's avatar

I guess I’m suggesting that you show them that you will not take the “balls” (man, this is sounding really inappropriate.) Some people in power appreciate confidence and power. If you show that you are not a pushover, your boss may be forced to find someone else to pass “balls” to.

Londongirl's avatar

Some bad useless bosses like to use your knowledge and claim it for themselve and then treat you like shit. Totally exploitation by management sometimes.

tom_g's avatar

@Londongirl: “Some bad useless bosses like to use your knowledge and claim it for themselve”

Unfortunately, I think that’s the nature of the beast. You rise to the top and you get to take credit (justifiably or not) for the success of the group.

@Londongirl: ”..and then treat you like shit.”

That is not ok. That requires the door-shutting “we have to talk” thing now. Don’t bring up the “but you take credit for things you don’t do” stuff. Just focus on how s/he treats you like shit. Be very assertive, make it all about how it is negatively affecting your work, and quickly turn it back to your boss by asking what suggestions s/he may have regarding the “problem”.
Good luck.

aprilsimnel's avatar

You don’t have to replicate the schoolyard at your job. You’re an adult now. Give yourself permission to stand up for yourself, @Londongirl. You don’t have to be rude about it, of course, but you have to let people know what you will and won’t put up with.

People will treat you as you teach them to treat you. By keeping silent, you’re telling your boss, in essence, that you don’t mind being treated in this manner and will continue to be shat upon. I would do precisely as @tom_g says. It’s one of the best things you can do for your career. People who speak up may hear “No” sometimes, but more often than not, they get what they want.

marinelife's avatar

Just be prepared to look for another job. Consider that the one that you have is intolerable.

Try @tom_g‘s strategy. If it doesn’t work, walk away from your job.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Londongirl You’re going to run into these types all the time. A good boss is actually on the unusual side. It sucks, but that’s how it seems to work. I guess develop a really thick skin or switch jobs.

Londongirl's avatar

@tom I have said No but giving me loads of work to give her the solutions to the big boss. She plays a lot of politic to try to keep her job safe and blame on others. I think this explain there is fundamentally problem of general management practise. Most of the time big boss thought the head of department did the job but in fact you will be surprised they know very little only if they have exploited some good people they will keep their ass safe.

@marinelife Yes, I think so but current situation doesen’t help to find new job…

@aprilsimnel It is not abotu being silent or rude, it is a fundamental attitude and practise in general senior managment in particular. This can explain why some companies go down the toilets usually they have bad management team and have no clue about what they are doing but by using their staffs to do their job.

@adiron I know, not many good bosses around, so far in my career so far, I only came across 2 good boss, they treated me well when I helped them. I don’t expect they know everything, but as long as they look after me, I do my best for them. Most of the time bosses just use you and exploit you and when you don’t get much return.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Londongirl I’ve had two good bosses, and four real idiots. One guy was in his office and sent me a email on January 1st asking when I was going to get the yearend numbers together for a potential client, with a copy to his boss.

Londongirl's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I have only worked for 2 very good bosses not that they treated me well and I respected them, but they also know what they are doing and I learnt a lot from them. The rest of the bosses are complete idoit and they criticised you when there is some problem and passing the responsibilities around so that they can keep their ass.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Londongirl I’m afraid the good bosses are more history than real life today. The same idiot boss that sent me an email on 1/1 was constantly claiming anything good as his work and anything bad got laid on us.

CaptainHarley's avatar

When I was with GE and later with EXXON, I use to HATE office politics. The best way to deal with it is to stay out of it as much as possible, do such an outstanding job that no resonable person can question it, and be able to watch and comprehend office politics.

Londongirl's avatar

@CaptainHarley True but sometimes they come to you…

Bill_Lumbergh's avatar

I can tell you, my employees understand I always maintain an “open door” policy at our office. Anyone I directly supervise can walk into my office for a talk about anything that is bothering them. (Within reason) I am, without question, sympathetic to my employee’s requests and concerns and I am always willing to work through any difficulties in the workplace. As for office politics, I do not stand for them in my office! We do our very best to minimize this constant “poison” that sometimes spreads through the workplace. This is one of the key reasons I implemented my “open door” policy, in an effort to curtail any internal office politics. I also request that my employees come to me directly about a major concern in the workplace before it becomes “whispered gossip” – this works very well to also curb office politics.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Say more, please. Not sure what you mean.

Londongirl's avatar

@Bill_Lumbergh Seems to me you are quite a good boss… I think office politic and gossip ganging is getting bad in my work place and I think it is very much down to who leads the team. Our new MD is the core of the whole office politic.

@CaptainHarley It is more about the head gets her own team and then make things difficult for those who are not in the same circle. But she has the power to do so cos she’s high up and she doesn’t know how to give strategic direction but to pass projects and balls or blames to people when things go wrong so that she can get rid of them.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t for long. If things don’t change after I make it clear that I will not be pushed around or disrespected in a professional setting, I will seriously consider leaving that job.

Londongirl's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Yes, this is what I’m at the moment… this new MD is really a joke really.

CaptainHarley's avatar


That’s piss poor management and whomever hired her should be horsewhipped!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Often the challenge is that people are put into a management position because they are really good at whatever their previous non-management job was. Their bosses think that giving someone a management title and handing over the manager’s keys magically gives them the skill set to be successful. The fact is that it sets that person, and like your case the whole department, up for failure. Have you ever heard of The Peter Principle?

Some other challenges for people new to a management position is that they fear failing. Sometimes they do not know how to be strategic, so they run around making changes left and right and piling on the workload. New managers often think that they need to solve all of the problems, and it gets overwhelming. What they really need to do is call upon the team to help problem-solve. It’s amazing how wonderful results come out when asking for input. Another is that employees have this fear that talking to their supervisor in a constructive way will cause more harm than good.

I agree with @tom_g‘s recommendation. You need to talk to her privately and objectively. Present it as your challenge, and offer recommendations that might help her help you help her. I’ve seen a lot of people get fired, but never for having a heart-to-heart talk with their boss. Have recommendations in your hip pocket.

Our company’s Human Resources vice-president surveyed 40,000 line level team members and asked what would cause them to leave their job. The results were compiled and ranked from 1–10. Then he asked the managers what they thought the #1 reason was. The majority said that it was salary. They were shocked to discover that Salary/Benefits ranked #10. #1 was, not surprisingly Lack of Recognition.
* Suggest setting up a recognition program for the office. Our dept. didn’t have one until I read, How Full is Your Bucket? and suggested adopting it.
* We also created a Kaizan award where team members could be recognized for making small, continuous improvements in the workplace. A co-worker talked to a local trophy shop and got the owner to donate a trophy that was made for a customer that never picked it up. Whoever won the Kaizan Award got to keep the trophy on their desk until the next month.
* Another team member made a banner out of felt that said, Team Member of the Week. There was a pocket on it for a card that would explain why they were picked. Whoever had the banner on Monday would fill out a card giving specifics and then hang it about someone else’s cubicle.
* My last supervisor also set up one-on-one meetings with each person in the dept. when she took on the job of managing it. She only asked two questions: “What is working well that you want to see kept in place?” and “What changes would you like to see?” She took notes, did not shoot down any of our ideas, and then followed up with each of us on the status of each of our suggestions, whether they could be put into place or not.

Two final comments:
1.) Many times, people quit their boss before they quit their job. My guess is that she might be feeling this and has no clue what to do about it. Then again, she might be oblivious if y’all are giving her lip service.
2.) Should you get to the point where you start looking for a new job, remember that interviews are a two-way street. Ask questions about their management style that are situation-based and not descriptors. When I was interviewing candidates for a position, the final ones were scheduled to talk to the people that reported to me. It was an opportunity for them to ask questions that they may not be willing to ask the hiring manager. As part of the interview process, I asked these existing team members if they thought the person would make a good fit to our dept. and never asked for specifics about their conversation.

If this opportunity is not offered to you, I would recommend asking to talk to those that are in the same job to find out what it is like from their perspective. If that makes you uncomfortable, it may be worthwhile to do a bit of sleuthing. When we were interviewing a local hotel manager for an inspection job, my boss went to the guy’s hotel on the weekend. The place was neat as a pin, and the team members he talked to, while posing as a guest, raved about the GM’s management style.

Wishing you, and all the others with sorely lacking managers, the best of luck in dealing with this frustrating situation. When we spend so much time in the workplace, it shouldn’t be in an energy-sucking environment.

Londongirl's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Thanks for the great advise. I think sadly like some here already stressed many management nowadays are poor and have no idea what to do. They do good lips job at the top and that how they are hired and have no clue of what need to be done for the company and messing people around changing things for the sack of changing things.

I am looking seriously now. Been with this company for a while and current job market doesn’t encourage me to move too quick but I know I come to the point I have to now.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Many managers have no clue that one of their primary resources to accomplish their job consists of the people who work for them. Get the people working FOR you instead of AGAINST you and you’ve got it made. : ))

CaptainHarley's avatar


The Peter Principle, as I recall, goes something like, “In any organization, people tend to be eligible for promotion based on how well they do their current job, until they are promoted to their level of incompetence, where they remain, thwarting the goals of the organization and frustrating those who have to work with them.”

One of the several books I read on management related the story of a manage who was told by one of his younger subordinates that “things have gotten so bad lately, that I may have to ask you to fire me!” Almost blew the manager’s mind! : )

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