By Amanda Wallin

This entry will review some underlying psychological aspects of office life, no matter what kind of office you find yourself in. The reason these are universal and applicable for any type of office is that there is one common denominator in every office… people.

According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, there are three psychological areas in which all people within in the workplace are driven by. These three areas collectively contribute to office politics and culture. This is not to say that these areas are neither bad nor good, however they are present and it is how the company reacts and adapts to these areas that determines the climate of their culture. The tricky part is that, as mentioned above, these psychological drivers are underlying. They are slightly below the surface from top to bottom and they can manifest themselves differently in each person within the organization.

The first of these psychological players is the need to get along. It’s no secret that we want to be liked and have positive relationships with the people we work with. Getting along is the key to success in the world of group work. The article relates work to being the “modern equivalent of a hunting tribe.” If we want to hunt and gather and eat and live to do it again the next day, we certainly must get along.  The second is the need or want to get ahead. As a whole the group should strive to move ahead and progress. The struggle comes when certain people want to take it a step further and become a leader within the group. In this comes the issue of directorship and appointment of duties, which can lead to strife among the organization. Though remember back to the first, we are still trying and needing to get along. The final is the need for groups to find meaning. The group in its entirety, each ranking position, wants to realize what they are trying to achieve and what their meaning for functioning is.

Complex, right? This is just skimming the surface of office culture! I found this article to be interesting because these underlying psychological reasons for our behaviors seem somewhat straightforward and simple to understand. However, when you really dig deeper into each aspect you realize how these simple needs can turn into very messy motives. To take it even further, these three areas described only include our thoughts and feelings inside the workplace. What about all of our thoughts and feelings that we hold outside the workplace – don’t we bring those with us? How do these come into play with our psychological needs in our office? Perhaps I’ll leave that can of worms for another entry!

Overall, the author of the article mentions that since these office politics are unavoidable, it is crucial for leaders of organizations to act meaningfully. Leaders should direct employees to have a common focus and do this through motivation and transparency. I hope you all found this to be as intriguing as I did! Next time you are in a staff meeting maybe you can try to pick out the underlying psychological thoughts of your colleagues!