When you work, there is a level between culture and reality which encompasses why things happen the way they do. Such as why you were not asked to lead a project. Or why you were passed over for a promotion. I call this phenomenon office politics.
What is office politics? It is the unknown – the reason given for “why?” It is the mix of where culture meets the people who react and live within the culture. This is part of why it is so important to understand the culture of the company that you a) work at b) are interviewing at or c) newly hired to work at too. The way I see it, there is the culture which is communicated through both written words (such as the employee manual which dictates clothing and other rules) and the execution of those rules along with the communication that comes downstream from management to the people. That makes up the culture and leads to the politics.
[Disclaimer: most of my corporate experience was at large multinational corporations (MNC) but I did do some time at smaller firms and have been an entrepreneur as well as an employee of college offices, which each run as their own stand alone functioning business but most of my work experience is from large MNCs.]
If you work at a large corporation the corporate office will have a strategy a plan a mission and that gets parsed down and communicated through the levels and layers until it reaches your particular department. It is not unlike a large scale game of telephone. There are communication issues and other ways we translate the news and rules from management. How these things that were communicated are executed on the office level are also vetted through the person in “charge” on that level and thus changed again.
You will find out about this level of interaction only when you work at a company full time. You might be able to find out about office politics when you are interviewing and networking with the company but it really is something you cannot truly immerse yourself in until you work full time at the place. Good ideas for adjusting to office politics are:
Lisa Vento Nielsen