One of the enduring challenges for any professional is navigating office politics. Regardless of the profession, office relationships can be extremely challenging and rewarding — sometimes even at the same time. Challenges can come from a variety of sources: simple misunderstandings, failure to appreciate different skills and approaches, resentment about coworker’s work habits, etc. Office conflict is a fairly common topic in a coaching engagement, and the good news is that it’s generally possible to resolve or at least minimize it.
Through the blogosphere, I was introduced to Franke James (pictured here), inventor of The Office-Politics® Game. Franke has put together a marvelous board of advisers (including experts in the areas of executive coaching, leadership development, dispute resolution, employment law, PR and ethics) to answer letters. Bob Sutton recently posted an Office-Politics.com letter and provided input on one of Franke’s responses. I was delighted when Franke invited me to serve as a guest adviser and sent me a letter to review. The letter began like this:
I am an attorney — specifically, a prosecutor. My problem is that there is a dominant clique in my workplace, and I have been regularly excluded (implicitly and expressly) from social events. I feel as though I’m in high school again, and my co-workers have formed an exclusionary clique comprised of only the “cool” kids.
It all began when another co-worker attorney — a temporary employee who I’ll call “Tad” — began making comments behind my back.
You can read the rest of the letter, in which this prosecutor describes how he and others in the office (all of whom are about 10-15 years older than the bulk of lawyers in the office) are excluded from group outings and my response here. And don’t miss Franke’s response, which takes a different approach and adds some marvelous ideas.�