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Office politics at a radio station can affect success or failure. Master it and chances for job security and advancement are excellent. Stations are a community of fragile egos and it takes time to understand co-workers. In a perfect world, people are judged on the merits of their work. Sorry, it does not work that way. It’s usually poor office politics and not ratings that cause firings. Test everyone that approaches and make sure his or her intentions are honorable. The keys are caution, patience, and time.
One of the best ways to explain office politics is to take a look at the antics of politicians and professional athletes. Their indiscretions become headline news. Private sector problems are usually confined to the place of business. Unfortunately, the sexual misconduct of public figures, is the only aspect of office politics that is ever openly documented. Here are some examples of poor workplace decisions:
In 1992 female staffers accused Senator Bob Packwood of assault, sexual harassment and sexual abuse. He was forced to resign from Congress under the Threat of expulsion.
There was the “ Petticoat Affair” involving members of President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet. Allegedly, the husband of Washington D.C resident Margaret O’Neil committed suicide due to an affair she was having with Secretary of War, John Henry Eaton. She and Eaton married shortly after the husband’s demise. This caused quite a stir among some of the cabinet members and their wives. Eaton resigned.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had an extramarital affair with his Chief-of-Staff, Christine Beatty. This was just one of many scandals that led him to resign from office.
In 1976 House Representative Wayne Hays hired Elizabeth Ray to serve as a secretary on his staff. Later it was discovered that her only job was to be his mistress. She admitted to not having any clerical skills. He resigned from Congress.
A few years ago current California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, admitted having an affair when he was the Mayor of San Francisco, with his campaign manager’s wife in 2005. At the time of the tryst she was working in the Mayor’s office as his aid for City Commission appointments.
During Bill Clinton’s Presidency, he had a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The entire situation led to his impeachment. However, the congressional vote for removal fell short and he retained office.
Mark Souder, (R-IN) a staunch advocate of abstinence and family values, resigned to avoid an ethics investigation into his admitted extramarital affair with a female staffer. Ironically they had made a public video in which they both extolled the virtues of sexual abstinence.
Eric Massa (D-NY): Resigned to avoid an ethics investigation into his admitted groping and tickling of multiple male staffers.
In 2008, (D) Former Vice- Presidential candidate John Edwards admitted he did have an extended affair with his campaign staffer Rielle Hunter. Originally he denied being the father of her child, later he recanted.
Sports is not immune the problem either. In the early 70’s, New York Yankee Pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson swapped wives.
To be fair, some awkward office situations have been successful. Jeannie Buss is the Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers and she’s the daughter of team owner Jerry Buss. Jeannie and Laker head coach Phil Jackson began dating early on during his tenure and continue to so to this day.
On a daily basis, co-workers consciously or unconsciously interrogate each other. These casual conversations can become the basis for gossip. Try to keep things close to the vest, and only tell people what you want them to know. Keep personal and business lives separate. Spreading gossip can be intentional or unintentional. The causes can be jealousy, misinterpretation, ignorance, miscommunication, deflection, or misdirection.
Jealousy: Someone just does not like you
Misinterpretation: Something said is taken out of context
Ignorance: For no particular reason spreads gossip
Miscommunication: Misunderstanding facts/assumption without checking the original source
Deflection: Attempts to keep the heat off themselves by trying to refocus others on someone else
Misdirection: Purposely shades the facts to throw others off the track of truth.
In office politics, gossip grows and takes on a life of its own. It’s similar to the game where people sit in a circle and whisper a story to the person next to them until it travels back to the first person that initiated the game. Many of the facts will differ from the original story. Or, how about those fishing trip stories, where the three pound bass that got away is fifteen pounds by the time the story is told back home.
Exposure to office gossip is constant. Never repeat the statements of others or offer an opinion during informal chitchat sessions. Some use others as pawns to spread rumor and innuendo. If one becomes the object of gossip, act dumb and never address it or change any behaviors towards others. Acting out of the ordinary will only give credence that the rumors are true.
Part Two of Radio and Office Politics will cover Office Relations, Romance, and more.
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