August 09, 2013, 9:30 PM — It's a fact of life amongst the cubes: Sometimes things get nasty.
Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, offers 5 strategies for navigating the battlefield without injury.
1. Be Switzerland
Be aware of what's going on without getting involved. Acknowledge, Salzberg says, but don't engage: “Be politically savvy, but not political.”
2. Admit you're vulnerable
Foster an environment in which "it’s OK to talk about mistakes and weaknesses," he says. "Teams that lack trust don’t share expertise, or honest feedback. They don’t learn from their mistakes. They hold grudges. And performance suffers."
3. Close the back channel
Bring conflict out in the open and encourage healthy resolution.
"By fostering an atmosphere within your team which embraces appropriate conflict, you can minimize negative behavior," he notes. "Perhaps more importantly, teams that engage in open debate are more likely to address critical issues, find solutions to problems, and develop innovative ideas."
4. Stop one-upmanship
Competition can be healthy and drive professionals to push themselves to new heights and productivity. But on the flip side, it can also engender unhealthy levels of internal competition.
Salzberg recommends focusing co-workers on external competitors, not those one cube over. "Align personal performance objectives with those of the organization. Help your people better understand your organization’s strategy, and how they personally contribute to this," he says.
5. Consider moving on
If your workplace fosters and encourages office politics, back-biting and infighting and you're not a willing participant, Salzberg says you may want to think about finding a new employer: "Find an organization that shares your values, because that’s where you’ll be most successful."