The essence of organisational politics is the reciprocal exchange of information and favours to negate or bypass the inherent inefficiencies of large hierarchical structures. For example, politics is used to control or enhance information flows, form networks or coalitions, temporarily undercut or ursurp role authority, to halt or slow down the consequences of poor decisions made ‘higher up’, to bypass cumbersome decision making processes and so on. It is also used to advance individual careers, for example by managing impressions, but that is not its only purpose (although progressing self-serving agendas is certainly part of politics).
In contrast to widely held beliefs about meritocracies and ‘good’ organisational cultures, politics is essential for the functioning of any complex human endeavour. Any hierarchical organisation without politics will likely drown in superfluous information (think endless meetings and emails with CC to all) and be prone to either make no decisions or consistently poor decisions. Of course this conjecture cannot be tested as organisations without politics simply don’t exist!
We have come across an extremely wide range of beliefs about politics in our coaching, most of it 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 come across reject politics and the people who engage in it outright. Technical experts, perfectionists and a high percentage of female managers are standouts in relation to rejecting organisational politics.
It should be in the interest of any organisation with more than 100 people to educate its managers, leaders and technical experts in the science and art of politics. Relying on natural talent, personality traits and ‘luck of the draw’ due to upbringing or schooling are not sufficient to ensure the internal politics is healthy and productive.
We run 1-day workshops for up to 12 people to teach the essence of organisational politics and to work through practical examples taken from scenarios brought up by the participants. These workshops are a mix of guided exploration, reflection and coaching, they bear no resemblance to traditional classroom training. We also deal with the common objections to engaging in politics in these workshops.
Please Contact Us or call us on 0418 124 660 if you would like to know more.