7 Warning Signs Managers Need Help Navigating Politics at Work

7 Warning Signs Managers Need Help Navigating Politics at Work
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Navigating Politics at Work is Not Going Away
Navigating politics at work is not something that leaders, managers or employees can ignore if they want to advance their careers and create a high performance culture.  This is especially true if their is any strategic ambiguity, cultural misalignment, or talent leadership gaps.  A lack of clarity about what matters most opens the door for potentially toxic workplace politics.

How to “Play the Game”
While most employees report a strong preference to avoid politics at work, some political skills training savvy is required in almost every organization.  Most ambitious employees know that navigating politics at work is required to advance their career and influence others in a way that fits cultural expectations, team norms, and corporate values.  In other words, being political at work does not have to be unethical, manipulative, or unproductive.

Those Who Play the Game Navigate Politics at Work
We know from people manager assessment data that those who know how to play the game with integrity typically get more done and are more appreciated for their ability to effectively influence others and astutely manage people issues within the system.  They just seem to “get it.” And they more easily navigate people, issues, and agendas.

Those Who Do Not Play the Game Do Not Navigate Politics at Work
Conversely, those not adept at maneuvering with integrity within the political landscape at work, typically struggle to perform at work or move up the corporate ladder.

Political Savvy Skills are Missing
Unfortunately, when we assess organizational culture or review data from our Corporate Leadership and Management Development Programs, we consistently find one area lacking — the ability to effectively navigate politics at work.

Seven Warning Signs that You Need to Better Navigate Politics at Work
Ask any executive — each business day, a corporate version of “survival of the fittest” is played out. Power plays, turf battles, deception, and cultural sabotage block individuals’ career progress and threaten companies’ resources and results.

As a leader, if you are observing any of the following warning signs at your organization, you are witnessing typical “closed shop” behavior telling you that Workplace Politics should be part of your executive and leadership development programs.

  1. Blind Spots
    Executives or upper management have a blind spot or hands-off approach to overly political leaders or situations.
  2. Consolidation of Power
    Leaders consolidate power by hurting the careers of direct reports, peers, or consultants who challenge them.
  3. Limited Access
    Leaders guard access to people in their organization and tell direct reports to not communicate or share information with specific other parts of the company.
  4. Circle of Trust
    When people outside of the team ask for information from direct reports, they’re uncomfortable and guarded. Direct reports can get in trouble for being seen talking to someone the leader doesn’t like or trust.
  5. Micromanagement
    Direct reports often say, “I need to check with my manager” before they share information, make decisions, involve others, or take action.
  6. “Yes Men”
    Team meetings lack candor or real debate, and people learn not to challenge the leader.
  7. Favoritism
    Clear, personal favorites exist on the team.

The Bottom Line
If you are experiencing any of the above seven warning signs or unhealthy politics at work, your people need help navigating politics at work and your organizational culture either is struggling or will soon struggle to attract, develop, engage, and retain the talent required to execute your business strategy.

To learn more about equipping managers and leaders to better navigate politics at work, download, How to Build the Competency of Organizational Savvy

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