It took me only a few years in my working life to decide that working for an organisation was not really for me. I am a very competitive person, and was working in a sales environment, but I found my colleagues harder to deal with than my customers. I never really understood how they couldn’t see that working together was better for everyone!
We were all earning commission so of course everyone wanted to to get an edge on the others. But at times the quest for sales appeared to come before any thoughts for the wellbeing of the company. This culture encouraged selfishness and ‘silo working,’ as nobody wanted to share information. It wasn’t one where I couldn’t see myself developing as a person, so decided to work for myself.
Despite going freelance I encountered office politics wherever I went, and worked very hard to eradicate them. Encouraging people to work together for the greater good, and explaining what benefits there might be. My experience is showing me that wherever you have people you will have politics. I guess it is inbuilt for us as humans. Of course we all have opinions and that should make for a healthy discussion, but unfortunately, many businesses are run by a culture of fear, where people feel uncomfortable to share their real views. That is where a political undercurrent will thrive.
Now I am no longer able to work regularly, I use my skills to help others by collaborating with charities and health organisations that are already involved in the work I want to do. However this is where I have found the biggest area of politics I have ever encountered! My innocence when I entered this sector was smashed very quickly. I honestly thought that everyone would be pulling together for the common cause of helping people. How wrong was I?
Even as a volunteer I was dragged into office politics, as one department competed with another. Apart from the odd team meetings I have never felt that people are working together. This was a big eye opener for me as surely the service exists to help people that are unwell? Unfortunately it seems that this culture is common across many organisations in this sector, as staff move frequently between good cause organisations. Experience in one seems to be a perfect qualification to enter another. Therefore the culture continues to spread like a disease.
Of course there are always exceptions to every rule, and naturally there are people that have a genuine passion for the cause, but they appear to be in the minority. I have always found that the key to this issue is the leader of the business. If they are an ‘open’ person, then there will be a more effective and less political working environment. I now do a lot of work on my own and as the years have gone on I have found it the best answer for me as a person. Maybe I am not a good team player, but I know that I no longer wish to waste time and energy on office politics.