Definition of organisational politics
Organisational politics is referred to the self-interest and agenda of an individual in an organisation without any concern about its impact on the objective of the company to achieve its goals. It is a process that is related to the self-serving human behaviour and his interactions involving authority and power.
Meaning of organisational politics
Organisational politics is a behind-the-scene process to gain and showcase the perceived power. It refers to the influencing tactics and the activities that are undertaken to retain personal control in the workplace. In most cases, it is seen that employees use organisational politics as a tool to misuse their power, gain extreme popularity and tarnish the image of someone else in their company. An essential fact about work politics is that it generally leads to negativity and loss of productivity in the workplace.
Organisational politics is in most cases is projected as a bad thing, but it is not always true. Working in an organisation is not easy as it needs the skill to handle the shifting power base and conflicting agendas with aplomb. Organisational politics is not only about winning and reigning supreme at all costs but also about maintaining and managing relationships to achieve desired results.
Reasons for organisational politics
Some important reasons for organisational politics are-
- Do not want to work hard
Numerous individuals wish to have everything that life has to offer and sometimes even more without making an effort to achieve them through hard work. These people always look-out for an easy short-cut so that they can come in the limelight without much effort. Organisational politics is a tool for them to create a negative image of the people they think are boulders in their pathway.
- Cannot adjust to change
Change is a part of an organisation, and employees must always be ready to accept the fact and work towards it. Some employees are unable to acknowledge the changes, and it proves unsettling for them.
When you have winners and losers because of change, then the employees on the losing side will lash out through underhand and subtle behaviour to demean the individuals who have willingly and happily accepted the changes in the workplace.
- Personal relationships
The personal relationship has no place in the professional world environment, and people must keep personal and professional relations separate. It is often seen that supporting someone you have a good relationship will drag you down the wrong path and at the end of the day it becomes a reason for organisational politics
- Lack of clarity
Lack of clarity leads to accusations and encourages rumour mills to work in full force. The assumptions and perceptions have no basis on facts but often leads to organisational politics.
If someone wants to mislead his superior then he will try to manipulate the information and pass the wrong one with the help of organisational politics
Jealousy is bound to creep up between co-workers if someone is smarter than others and especially if his efforts are appreciated by the top brass. This leads to organisational politics as the rest of the individuals will try to tarnish his image in the company
- Lack of trust
An essential reason for corporate politics is the lack of trust between colleagues. Employees do not want their colleagues to get more attention and acknowledgement for work, and this becomes an essential reason for playing office politics and finding ways to destroy their image and reputation in the company
- Blame game
It is necessary to speak relevance without finding fault with others, but it does not always happen this way. People generally overlook their shortcomings and tend to shift the blame on others
One of the reasons for office politics is the habit of employees in taking part in unnecessary chatter about co-workers, peers and other people in the organisation
- Struggle for power
The struggle for power in a company often becomes one of the primary reasons for organisational politics. As one moves up the ladder the opportunities for quick growth becomes less. Individuals struggle to prove themselves and reach the top.
Employees who lack confidence generally start showing themselves as superior at the expense of others. This results in organisational politics where employees use wrongful tactics to prove their worth
- Promotions are less plentiful
When several employees are vying for a promotion, but there are only a few seats left, then it causes organisational politics. Ambitious employees tend to become aggressive and in their zeal to reach the coveted position they start spreading suspicion and rumours about others.
This perpetuates a climate of mistrust and proves detrimental for the health of the organisation
- Reward system
Most business houses have several reward systems in place to encourage employees to give their best. Sometimes this concept backfires as everyone wants to attain the so-called reward.
This gives rise to unhealthy competition and employees start sabotaging the work of their colleagues in their zeal to become better than others. The reward system at the end of the day becomes an important reason for organisational politics.
- Changes in upper levels
When there is a new appointment at higher levels, then individuals get busy to score brownie points. After a certain period, it is not only about positioning themselves as best but demeaning, bad-mouthing, questioning abilities and tarnishing the reputation of colleagues. Getting ahead of others by hook or crook leads to organisational politics at its worst.
Effects of organisational politics
The impact of organisational politics are as follows-
- The decrease in the level of productivity
It is a proven fact that people who are engrossed incorporate politics pay less attention to work and more on gossip, rumours, incessant talks and underhand activities. Their time is utilised not on office work but criticising, back-biting and leg-pulling of co-workers. Individuals become so engrossed in politics at the workplace that office work and projects start taking a back seat in terms of importance and personal preference.
As a result, employees are unable to achieve targets within the stipulated time frame and work gets delayed and postponed. This ultimately leads to a decrease in the productivity of the employee and has a direct impact on the overall productivity of the organisation.
- Negative work environment
Organisational politics spoil the relationship between employees in the workplace. People who indulge in this habit are generally disliked by others. It is a fact the organisational politics tend to make the office environment harmful and this has a direct impact on the efficiency levels of the employees
- Low levels of concentration
An employee engrossed in workplace politics finds difficulty in concentrating on his work. He is more interested in dragging others down and spoiling their image than his work, tasks and projects.
People become overconfident about their abilities and tend to make mistakes as their focus is on unimportant things. This has a direct effect on the individual as it results in a low level of concentration
- Has an impact on the attitude
The most critical effect of organisational politics is seen on the employees as their attitude is impacted to a great deal because of negative emotion. They lose interest in their work proceedings and attend office just for the sake of it.
When internal politics start becoming a hindrance employees are unable to give their full commitment to their job. The reason is very simple. The employees believe that his hard work is not being recognised because of workplace politics and this factor changes their attitude towards work
- De-motivates the employees
It is a fact that organisational politics will ultimately de-motivate employees. Every day they come across things that are intolerable to them, for instance, seeing a non-performing employee getting the best employee award just because he is close to the senior manager and him getting the acknowledgement for the work that was done by someone else.
- Increased stress
Employees in the workplace are fearful of discussing related problems with co-workers as they are afraid that the information might be leaked. The failure to trust each other is a severe drawback as you do not have someone with whom you can share your deepest secrets and feel safe doing so.
Every one of us needs friends and confidantes, and when we are unable to find them at the workplace because of organisational politics it results in stress and anxiety
- Wrongful information
An essential effect of corporate politics is that wrong information is passed from one person to another because manipulation is at its best at such times. Managers and supervisors are told edited versions, and their perceived notion about the happenings in the workplace tends to be quite different from reality.
A deserving employee is left speechless, whereas an undeserving one gets away with acknowledgement and even a reward. The flow of wrongful information is a fact about office politics that you have to live with.
Why organisational politics is inevitable
Organisational politics is inevitable because –
- Some individuals have more power and authority than others, and they often indulge in organisational politics.
- Some people are politically savvy and encourage organisational politics so that they can have their way.
- Every employee wants to step on the ladder of success, but as the path is narrow everyone cannot travel together. People often take help of organisational politics to remove others from their path so that they can go smoothly and gain their heart’s desire
- People often have to compete for limited resources and this conflict makes organisational politics inevitable
Ways to reduce organisational politics
The ways to overcome organisational politics are
- Tasks should be delegated on the basis of efficiency and work experience so that the employees are able to find job satisfaction. This will automatically reduce any reason to indulge in politics
- Organisations should emphasise transparency at all costs
- Promote teamwork to strengthen the bond so that people hesitate to indulge in office politics
- Effective communication will reduce the chances of office politics
- Encourage a positive frame of mind in the workplace as people will then hesitate to spread lies and bitch about others
Managing organisational politics
The most crucial tip for managing organisational politics is to find the right balance. The strategies that one can use in this endeavour are as follows-
- Maintain your core values
Recognise and accept your core values so that it becomes easy to stick to them despite differences. Knowing what is essential in life is necessary from a values perspective as it provides a sense of purpose. This helps in dealing with organisational politics in a positive manner
- Understand the organisation’s politics
It is a fact that politics is an integral part of work culture. There is a very well saying that if you cannot ignore it then at least understand it so that you can play the game fairly and come out the winner.
- Recognise the source of power
The first thing one should do is recognise the actual origins of both informal and formal power. Who is that one person or a few people who yield the stick and are known as game-changers? It is also imperative to be aware of the people who play the game from behind-the-scene and have the ability and resources to influence people at high positions.
- Develop your people skills
Look beyond your comfort zone and immediate team members and cross to the other side to make connections with executives, managers, and colleagues from other departments. Know and make high-quality connections so that you can align with various types of people. Developing people skills mean never breaking the trust or confidentiality of other people.
Be emotionally intelligent so that your interpersonal skills stand you in good stead and helps in building and maintaining connections.
- Listen attentively
Listening attentively is an essential trait if you are looking for ways to manage organisational politics. It is like investing critical time so that one can slow down and focus on crucial things.
- Priorities of the organisation
Make sure that you are aware of the preferences of the organisation as it will prove a blessing in making decisions. When you know what is essential and what is not then you can ignore things that do not matter and pay attention to those which do
- Unwritten rules
There are understood norms of behaviour in a workplace that one should adhere to. The best way to manage organisational politics is by discovering and following the unwritten rules at all costs; otherwise, it can lead to severe repercussions.
- Rewards and repercussions
Some actions are appreciated and will be rewarded, whereas others can result in consequences. Better know them from the beginning if you want to become adept at managing organisational politics. If you are not aware of these things then the chances of being a victim to a co-workers manipulation are high
- Be proactive
Being proactive means building a network of people around you that will support you no matter what. It includes having leverage in a system that plays dirty to win. A good network leads to significant alliances that provide ample clues about the opportunities as well as pitfalls that come in your way.
It acts as an early warning system about the people that can drag you down so that you are aware of their activities from the beginning. An essential aspect of being proactive in a workplace is that it assists an employee in fighting for his position or expressing his point of view. Being ethical and proactive is one of the best ways to manage organisational politics.
- Be protective
Being protective does not mean that you have to go and protect someone else; it implies being aware of your surroundings and protecting yourself from people who can backstab you at any time. It means not being naive and having blind faith and simply being on your toes.
An individual has to be smart enough to understand nuances in the workplace so that he can shield himself from dirty and underhand things and effectively manage organisational politics.
- Be prepared
An individual has to be prepared to face challenges if he is looking for ways to manage organisational politics. Never turn a blind eye to the happenings around you and assume everything is fine when it is not. In case you have not formed alliances be ready for the worst as this will keep you on your toes.
Even if you have your so-called supporters never show blind trust because just like politics there are no real friends and foes in the workplace, it is the situation that creates friends and turns right supporters into adversaries.