We've all been there, caught between the rock that is our moral sense of justice, and the hard-place that is those decisions made by our employers which give us cause to ask the following question: Why do I stay?
For many, the answer is depressingly simple: money. We need the money we are paid for services to our employers in order that in turn we can pay for the many things we like and all of the things we, and those that depend on us, need.
So given that work is a necessity for all but a very few of us, how does one become resilient to attacks on the soul associated with the internal politics of working in an organisation? I'm not a psychologist, nor am I an expert on human resources or the management of organisations.
I have, however, worked inside of one for approaching thirty years; over ten years in management positions. So, certainly not an expert in the theory of politics, but without question an expert on its effects on employees.
We learn, I believe, how to internalise politics, while never getting used to it. Indeed, I've witnessed occasions where the more experienced members of the workplace are affected by the ego-destroying slights of internal politics, and something from which they can never recover.
In contest, however, the younger and less experienced members of the workplace, are more resilient and less concerned by the politics. Not because of an unawareness of its tentacles, although admittedly ignorance can be a factor, but rather that they opt to chose to ignore it.
Perhaps ill feeling is created whenever an employee expects loyalty from the employer. Something once done well, often several years ago, thus deposits significant quantities of 'brownie points' into the metaphoric 'bank', and that as a consequence of such brownie point abundance, one ought to be immune, or protected from, the disruption of the day-to-day machinations of the organisation.
This way of thinking is naive. It should be noted, that organisations are made of people, and that people change and people forget. Time warps memory and new people arrive to replace the older (previously grateful) generation.
The new additions feel no sense of loyalty. Indeed, they often carry with them an inherent mistrust of anything and everything that came before. And, upon leaning who in their teams previously heralded as a savour, they now see only an employee living on the merits of a job well done years before. Thus, they see only opportunity for change.
So, what is the take away from this? What can a person in such a situation learn from the experience of others? How can one become more like the enthusiastic and resilient person in their youth?
The answer is by remaining calm. Do not allow yourself to become emotionally attached to the work you do beyond what is needed to engender motivation to work. Remain cautious but do not become paranoid or cynical. Indeed, cynicism can be healthy if appropriately moderated and controlled.
Stay proactive, and never rely on the good-will or kindness of others.
Be realistic. Know that others are about themselves. If they think of you at all, it is often in a way of how you can help them. They are not evil, they are humans and this is what humans do. Carry around a proactive mindset.
Be polite but firm. Do do accept second best unless second best is what you chose to achieve. Remain true to yourself and try not to fight battles that you cannot win.
The most important advice I can offer, is to resist the urge to self-destruct. Never, ever, choose to self harm as a means to evidence to others the folly of their decisions. You only cede power to those people and harm yourself and those around you.