Stuck in the middle

This week at MPOW I’ve found myself inadvertently in the middle of a drama between 2 members of staff, neither of whom I work directly with.

The drama involves me only as a side issue, there was an email about me (incorrect as it turns out) that has provided the catalyst for ‘final straw’ type action.  It’s caused quite a sensation, I’m still not sure quite how I got involved but there you are.

This got me thinking about the issue of office politics in general.  Technically I work by myself here at MPOW.  I’m the only library staff member, I theoretically report direct to the College principal or the provost and I don’t supervise any staff.  A small organisation being what it is however and as I’ve blogged about before, I am involved in much more than just library stuff.  When I started here, one of my colleagues said to me “it’s a nice place and there really isn’t any office politics”.  While that’s not quite true, it’s pretty close and on the whole this workplace is free from many of the petty concerns and trivialities of other places I’ve worked (and even many of the real concerns and non-trivialities).

My last job was working on my own as well – I was literally the only person in the office there, although there was constant phone and email contact with committee members, former committee members and even former staff (the CBCA is the kind of place that gets into your blood, once you’ve been involved you’re sort of always involved, nearly 12 months after leaving I still speak to my replacement there about once a month). It’s been so long since I’ve had to negotiate outcomes, or space, or project time or budget allowances with anyone other than my teenagers that sometimes I wonder if I can still do it.

We teach management, organisation theory, organisation behaviour, human resource management and negotiation/conflict resolution skills here in our various programs and I studied those subjects in various forms as part of my management major in my degree. However, there’s nothing quite like being in the workplace to really teach you how to get along with others.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to gently work my way back into the world of office politics – maybe this current ruckus is a development opportunity?

image: scream and shout by mdanys via flickr