All Organizations are subject to conflict and competition between the desires and interests of different department, team and individuals. Organizational politics refers to the processes through which these rival interests are played out and eventually reconciled. While in an ideal organization it may be hoped that decision is made on a rational basis, politics is inherently non-rational and subject to power interactions between diverse interests. Members of organizations are at the same time cooperating to achieve a common goal and competing for rewards, and at times their personal interests may be at odds with the organization’s objectives.
It is through the political system of an organization that rival interests are resolved. This system represents how power is applied and distributed in the organization. Understanding the political system of an organization is necessary for a leader to operate effectively and reach their goals. A leader, exercising power, is able to have a strong influence on the political climate of an organization through their decisions, their way of handling conflict and providing recognition, support and inspiration to their teams.
Organizational political Climate:
- Positional Power:
- Personal Power
- Informational power
- Formal Power
- Informal Power
- Out Opportunity
- Connection Power
- Internal Network
- External Network
- Network Centrality
Effects of Politics on Organization and Employees:
1. The decrease in overall productivity
- Politics lower the output of an individual and eventually effects the productivity of the organization
- Common observation says that individual who play politics at the workplace pay less attention to their work.
- They are more interested in leg pulling and backbiting. They spent most of their times criticizing their fellow workers.
- As a result of politics in the workplace, employees fail to achieve targets within the stipulated time frame. Work get delayed in such an organization.
2. Affects concentration
- Individuals find it difficult to concentrate on their work. They are more interested in spoiling the other person’s image in front of the superiors.
- An individual involved in politics is bound to make more mistake as his focus is somewhere else.
3. Spoil the ambience
- Politics leads to a negative environment in the workplace.
- It spoils the relationship among the individuals. An individual playing politics at the
organization is disliked by all.
4. Changes the attitude of employees
- Politics changes the attitude of the employees.
- Even the serious employees lose interest in work and attend office just for the sake of it.
- Internal politics does not allow employees to give their hundred per cent at work.
- No matter how much hard work an employee puts in, it goes unnoticed in a politically driven organization.
5. Demotivated employees
- A non-performer can be the apple of his boss’s aye simply due to politics, thus demotivating the performers.
- Discussions are essential at the workplace to extract the best out of employees. Evaluating the pros and cons of an idea always help in the long run. Employees playing politics always look for an opportunity to tarnish the image of the fellow workers.
- Employees feel demotivated when they are not rewarded suitably or someone who has not worked hard gets the benefits due to mere politics.
6. Increases stress
- It is rightly said that problems evaporate if discussed. Individuals find it difficult to confide in any of their fellow workers due to the fear of secret getting leaked.
- Politics increases the stress level of employees. Individuals are not machines who can work continuously for 8-9 hours without talking to others. It is important to have friends at the workplace who help you when needed.
- Individuals failed to trust each other.
7. Wrong information
- Employees indulged in politics manipulate information and it is never passed on in its desired form.
- Superiors get a wrong picture of what is actually happening in the organization.
- A wrong person walks away with the credit in an organization where employees are indulged in politics.
Political Strategies and Tactics
To make effective use of organizational politics, leaders must be able to make appropriate use of specific political strategies and tactics. Remember that ethical behaviour is regarded as an important requirement for effective leadership.
Let’s look at a representative group of political tactics and strategies, categorized in the following two sections as ethical or unethical, although many of the strategies and tactics could fall into either category, depending on motivations and methods of implementing them. Used with tact, diplomacy, and good intent, ethical influence tactics can be quite effective. Sequencing of tactics is another important consideration. In general, it is best to begin most positive, or least abrasive, tactic. If you do not gain the advantage you seek, proceed to a stronger tactic. Also, begin with low-cost, low-risk tactics
1. Essentially ethical political strategies and tactics
This section describes a sampling of ethical political behaviours, divided into three related and overlapping groups:
i. Strategies and tactics aimed directly at gaining power.
It could be argued that all politics tactics are aimed at acquiring and maintaining power, if consider power in a board scope. Tom peter says that, although power can often be abused, it can also be used to benefit many people, “and as a career building tool, the slow and steady (and suitable) amassing of power is the surest road to success.
- Develop power contacts and relationship.
- Make an early showing.
- Keep Informed.
- Control vital information.
- Control lines of communication.
ii. Strategies and tactics aimed at building relationship.
Much of organizational politics involves building positive relationship with network members who can be helpful now or later. This network includes superiors, subordinates, other low-ranking people, co-workers, external customers, and suppliers. Following are the several representative strategies and tactics.
- Provide favours and develop ingratiation.
- Display Loyalty.
- Develop a reputation as a subject matter expert.
- Rational persuasion.
- Manage impression of you.
- Bring in outside expert for support.
- Consult with ask advise of others.
- Ask satisfied customers to contact your boss.
- Be courteous, pleasant, and positive.
- Send thank-you notes to large number of people.
- Flatter other sensibly.
- Develop coalition.
iii. Avoiding political blunders
A strategy for relating power is to refrain from making power-eroding blunders. Committing such politically insensitive acts can also prevent one from attaining power. Several leading blunders to avoid are described next.
- Embarrassing and criticizing the boss in a public forum.
- Surprising the boss: Surprise, particularly negative ones, are not appreciated
- Bypassing the boss.
- Declining an offer from top management.
2. Potentially unethical strategies and tactics.
Any technics of gaining power can be unethical if practiced in the extreme and with negative intentions. For example, a person who supports a boss by feeding him or her insider information that could affect the price of company stock is being unethical. Some approaches are almost unequivocally unethical, such are those described next. In the long run they can erode a leader’s effectiveness by lowering his or her credibility.
- Back Stabbing
- Purge all but Loyalties
- Set a person up for Failure
- Exert under Pressure
- Divide and Conquer.
- Play Territorial Games.