We have come across an extremely wide range of beliefs about organisational politics in our coaching, most of them surprisingly antagonistic to the very idea or erroneous in relation to why politics exists, and what it is good and necessary for. A large percentage of managers and even senior managers we have worked with reject politics, and the people who engage in it, outright. In our experience, technical experts, perfectionists and a high percentage of female managers are standouts in relation to rejecting organisational politics.
Yet there are very good reasons why organisational politics exists and why we can’t do without it. In order to understand those reasons, we need to examine what politics is first. The essence of organisational politics is the reciprocal exchange of information and favours to negate or bypass the inherent inefficiencies of large hierarchical structures, which includes the power structure. In this broad meaning politics is anything that isn’t based on structure, role authority, process or policy.