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Book Review: Dear Office-Politics: The Game Everyone Plays by Franke James

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It’s the sad truth that anyone who works in an office is drawn into office politics, voluntarily or otherwise. Some people are proactive, others reactive, and still others inactive — they choose not to play the game, when in fact that’s exactly what they are doing.

It’s hard to believe that so many people don’t realize the happiest and most productive workplaces are characterized by cooperation and respect. Nearly every issue that is brought before the advisers at officepolitics.com wouldn’t come up if everyone practiced these two virtues. Of course, not even in Never-Never Land does everyone practice these or any other virtue.

Franke James has turned office politics into a role-playing game that encourages problem-solving and team-building by employees. The first part of Dear Office-Politics –The Game Everyone Plays is comprised of situations that have been presented to officepolitics.com; the second part contains the advice that had been given to the original enlightenment-seekers.

Teams of four to six players are divided into Advice-Seekers (one per team) and Office-Politics Advisers; the seekers read the problem to the team, and the advisers formulate solutions. Each team member takes a turn as advice-seeker, and the advice given is scored, resulting in a winner. (Perhaps employees who work for companies that are too dense [to put it nicely] to sponsor activities such as this, could choose a problem a day and work on it during lunch.)

Problems range from obnoxious co-workers to serious backstabbing. Office workers are sure to recognize many of the behaviors that are presented in the letters to officepolitics.com. (Although, I didn’t see any about someone’s keyboarding getting on the nerves of an anal-retentive office manager — a criticism I once received.)

How do you think you would score in such a game? I know I wouldn’t do very well — my answer to most problems is “Oh, grow up” or “Tell him (or her) to grow up and get over him(her)self.”  Even my most well-thought-out, incredibly rational answers don’t approach the level of sensible, balanced, professional advice in the back of the book.

Franke James was given the opportunity to publish Dear Office-Politics –The Game Everyone Plays, as a standard business book. She returned the advance and published the book the way she had envisioned it. It’s full of excellent advice for people who work with what best can be described as jerks, and neat photos that illustrate the dilemmas faced in the workplace.

For those who don’t want to play Dear Office-Politics –The Game Everyone Plays, or who can’t round up enough sane co-workers with whom to play it, the book could serve as a more conventional business book — advice to office workers on three dozen different problems common to the office environment (unless you’re self-employed and staffless). Crabs, backstabbers, unreasonable managers and coworkers, working with relatives and love interests, and many other horrors are examined and given perspective, then plans of action are proposed as solutions.

Having worked in an institution so dysfunctional that win-win was not an option, I don’t know if the advice furnished can be applied to all office situations. However if the advice-seeker is willing to be reasonable, civil, and professional, there may not be much to lose by trying solutions offered. If a job is worth having, it must be worth the effort of improving.

Dear Office-Politics –The Game Everyone Plays is both a serious game and a serious book, which doesn’t mean that players can’t have fun with it. For example, it would be interesting to hear advisers’ gut reaction to some of the problems and compare that to the advice they offer when they formulate solutions.

Managers and business owners who would like to keep their employees on-track (or get them back there), facilitate cooperation, and improve (or maintain good) morale, should look to Dear Office-Politics –The Game Everyone Plays as a viable set of activities to incorporate into employee education/training sessions.

Bottom Line: Would I buy Dear Office-Politics –The Game Everyone Plays? I retired early and it is my sincere hope that I will be able to stay retired for the rest of my life. Nevertheless, if I were back in an office, I think I would find it an absolute necessity.

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About Miss Bob Etier

  • Where I worked it was lose-lose all the way, which is why I took all the assignments out of the office!