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.