Photo: Shutterstock

Friday 29th July 2016

The political spectrum

How extreme are your office politics?

It turns out, then, that Gen Z can’t do everything. Yes, they know their way around every byte of a Smartphone. Yes, they understand what to actually do with Pokémon Go. But when it comes to office politics, they’re plankton.

Office politics is ‘the one thing young people are least prepared for when starting their first job’ according to a new study by the Co-op. In a poll of 1,100 16-25 year olds (so yes, some of these will be Gen Y) over half said they were not prepared or informed about politics in the workplace.

‘It is vital that business creates a positive working environment for young people,’ says Julian Sykes, Co-op’s Director of Organisational Effectiveness. ‘Office politics saps workplace productivity. Businesses should address the root causes, freeing up time to take on, train and motivate the next generation.’

Yes, but hang on. Are we really saying that youngsters really don’t know about office politics? Any young bod who’s joined any extra-curricular group, watched the teaching cohort closely or downloaded Mean Girls would surely have learned how politics play out in any organisation consisting of more than, um, two people.

Anyway, we won’t detain you here with lots of sound advice on the matter of office politics. (But if you want some, this article from Forbes is a nice place to start. Suffice to say that the thing with office politics is that it’s always there, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so it’s a good idea to hone your skills.)

No. We’d rather ask you to delve into your inner Machiavelli and ask: How extreme an office politician am I?


Q1: Ultimately, who do you exist to serve as an HR professional?

A: Your executive committee

B: Your colleagues

C: Yourself


Q2: Which best describes your typical day?

A: Working tirelessly to increase organisational productivity via a series of interventions that better engage and deploy key talent

B: Diligently trawling through lots of HR paperwork

C: Spreading lies on Twitter about how your line manager likes to club baby seals to death in his spare time


Q3: The HRD, seeing you in the lift, congratulates you on a project that wasn’t actually yours. Do you:

A: Gently correct her, making sure that the person who did the work gets the credit they deserve

B: Pretend you didn’t hear, and smile back nicely – one shouldn’t look a gift horse like this in the mouth

C: Accept the congratulations and ask the HRD to repeat them as a LinkedIn recommendation. Then suggest the person who really did the work is actually a philandering alcoholic who regularly steals stationery and draws pornographic pictures of the HRD’s husband on toilet walls


Q4: To whom do you most aspire?





Q5: Which David would you most want as a mentor?

A: Ulrich

B: Cameron

C: Koresh


Q6: Finally, which of these best represents your political style?

A: White knight

B: Grey suit

C: Brown nose


How did you score?

Mostly A’s

Oh, dear. Looks like you’re much too innocent to triumph in the workplace. Prepare yourself for a career in which you’re passed over more times than a semi-detached under the Heathrow flight path.

Mostly B’s

You’re just OK. You’re no innocent, but you’re no Gove either. Maybe buy a copy of The Prince and pay particular attention to the chapters on ‘criminal virtue’.

Mostly C’s

Well, get you, Brute! Congratulations on being one of the most politically astute HR people ever. It won’t be long before you’re running the place. But be warned. Don’t take your eyes off that graduate in the corner. She’s learning a lot from you and can’t wait to start chucking shivs into your back.









About the author

Andrew Baird

Andrew is the CEO of HRville. He is also Employer Brand Director of Blackbridge Communications, Editorial Director of Professionals in Law and an associate of The Smarty Train. Previously, he was the MD of TCS Advertising.