How Skilful are you at Office Politics?


Ever wondered why some people seem to get on better than you and yet appear to do less work?  How much time can you spend having those water cooler chats or making cups of coffee – surely these people need to get something done? Or could it be they’re buddies in the music group or are both Arsenal fans?  Have you noticed who they are talking to whilst they’re engaged in these activities?

Added on 15 September 2014 by Phil Anderson

Group of colleges sitting having a chat

Those people understand how their organisations really work. Informal conversations and casual catch-ups over coffee are an excellent way to learn more about what’s really going on, which way the wind is blowing, who’s in favour and who’s not.  To some, this can be seen as manipulative or Machiavellian, to others it’s the best way to succeed. So, how skilled are you when it comes to politics in the office? Do you need to be more adept at playing this game?

At Ashridge, we’ve been developing a new questionnaire to help people understand their own approach to “navigating their organisation” – that maze of office politics – and how that relates to the most common method used by colleagues.  Over several years we collected data from working with individuals and groups. We conducted some primary and secondary research and concluded that there were four characteristics which defined how to “Navigate your Organisation” most effectively.  Aptitude, Attitude, Approach and for whose Advantage do you take Action.  Describing each one briefly:

  • Aptitude – how skilful you are at navigating your organisation / office politics
  • Attitude – the degree to which you enjoy or despise the process
  • Approach – do you conduct these activities overtly for all to see or covertly behind the scenes
  • Advantage – do you generally get involved with organisational navigation / office politics more for your benefit, or more for the benefit of the organisation

These characteristics can be applied to individuals AND to organisations. Understanding how your style matches, or not, to that which is commonplace in your organisation can be invaluable learning.  For this reason, we have placed these characteristics into a questionnaire which provides you with a self and organisational assessment.  Areas of mismatch can then be reviewed and action plans developed. A 360 version is also available to provide information on how others perceive your style against these characteristics.  Additionally, data on how they see the organisation is pulled together with yours, to provide an average perception of how up to seven people see the political landscape in your organisation.

Developed with several groups over the last 12 months, we are now at the stage of formal validation of the questionnaire where we need as many people as possible to complete it. If you would like to know more about your own style and how that compares with how you see your organisation, then click here for a free self-assessment report  If you’d like to try the 360 version, then please contact