Dealing with office politics
In this video Liz address the subject of office politics. it’s damaging effect on teams and organisations and what can be done by leaders to deal with it.
When I work with leaders to build a healthy workplace culture, one of the first things I look for to determine how they are doing, is the level of office politics in the organisation.
The presence of office politics is one of the main signs of an unhealthy workplace culture. It is also one of the most damaging behaviours to a team and ultimately to the success of a business.
So what is office politics?
- It is the activities, attitudes, or behaviours that people use to get or keep power or an advantage within an organisation.
- It is when people choose their words and actions, not based on the truth, but on what they want to get others to do. In other words, it is a form of manipulation.
- It is when a person changes what they say and changes what they do depending on who is in the room.
- It is when individuals take credit for things they didn’t do instead of giving credit where credit was due, and
- When individuals blame others when things go wrong instead of taking responsibility.
A classic tell-tale sign of office politics are those ‘meetings’ before meetings for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the official meeting and those ‘meetings’ after meetings so as to engage in damage control.
The truth is, for organisations to get the most done, in the least time and in a way that produces the best results it requires quite the opposite. It requires a culture of honesty and integrity. Where people say what they mean and mean what they say, especially in meetings.
Now the harsh reality is that people engage in office politics largely because they work in an environment that tolerates it or even encourages and rewards it.
So what can you as a leader do to stamp out this unhealthy behaviour?
- Resist the temptation to take part it.
- Don’t tolerate it. Address it, every time you see it, kindly but firmly. Every time and kindly but firmly. That might mean that in a meeting you might say something like “Hey everyone, let’s say what we really mean rather than what you think we want to hear”
- Don’t reward people for engaging in it. Instead, actively reward those who say what they really mean and mean what they really say, especially in meetings.
Yes, this may sound simple, it is, but trust me, it isn’t necessarily easy. It is going to require effort, persistence and courage on your part as the leader. You are the CRO, the chief reminding officer.
Culture flows from the top down. It’s up to you to put a stop to what you don’t want replicated. And remember why this is important…an organisation that has a low degree of office politics gets more done in less time in a way that produces the best results.
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