Using Politics Negatively

Learn what negative use cases of politics are and why they are bad for you and your company.

We’ve explored a number of ways in which workplace politics can be used positively to both your advantage and the advantage of everyone else. That’s awesome. However, there are many negative ways that you can engage in workplace politics that will at best result in conflict and at worst have a negative impact on your career. Let’s look at what not to do.

Misuse of power

While your new-found managerial seniority may allow you to just tell people what to do, without winning hearts and minds, you’ll gradually erode your respect in the eyes of your peers and ultimately your influence. I like to imagine each manager having an energy bar, like in a video game, that is depleted when a controversial override on a decision is made or an unpopular direct order is issued. You must use overrides tactically and sparingly. The bar replenishes when you move forward with your team in a congruent manner where they are motivated to go on the same journey as you.


I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of going over someone’s head to their manager because it’s quicker and easier than going via the chain of command. Now, there may be times that this is quick, easy, and convenient. However, the person being left out in the middle feels awful. Perhaps, things are going on in their team, division, or department that they are none the wiser about. Sometimes, you may have a good relationship with your manager’s manager or even be friends outside of work, but you need to make sure that you go via the proper channels and bring your own manager along for the ride. Otherwise, they’ll feel like somebody else is influencing their destiny behind their backs. An exception to this rule is skip-level meetings, where a manager will have occasional check-ins with their direct report’s staff to see how they’re doing.

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