As I shared in a previous post, I spoke to a group of HR/OD professionals recently about how to both embrace and take advantage of politics to do the good work we are all called to do. The main point I was trying to make to that group was that whether we like it or not, politics exist and that if we understand how they work, we can get more good work done.
The part of the story I didn’t tell in my presentation is that as HR professionals, we have a double-edged responsibility related to corporate politics. First, we need to become politically skilled in order to navigate politically to get the big important work done. But, at the same time, we have to work to take intentional steps to crush and destroy politics where ever we can.
I think that this double responsibility hangs up a lot of HR pros. Most who I encounter seem to feel that they have to pick sides: either become political and give up on trying to minimize politics systemically OR self-righteously refuse to play any political “games” as a show of their commitment to making the organization less political.
The reality is that leaders in human resources have to do both. If you can’t “play the game,” you aren’t in the game. If you aren’t in the game, you can’t change how the game is played.
So, the lesson is that HR pros have to invest themselves in learning to be politically skilled so that they can gain the influence needed to attack politics from the inside. And, the more you know about how the politics work, the better equipped you will be to destroy them.