1. Workplace Politics- Introduction
Workplace politics is the tact of implementing power of social networking within an organization so that decisions can be influenced to certain people’s personal benefits- like access to assets, benefits, status, and pseudo-authority- without regard to their effect on the organization itself. It is known as Office Politics or Organizational Politics.
This tutorial is designed primarily for those who have become working professionals recently and are looking for guidance in way to conduct themselves in order to get promoted to a managerial position in a target-oriented job. This tutorial aims at teaching them the difference between being an achiever and an abuser.
Before proceeding with this tutorial, you are expected to have a detailed knowledge on the working process of your company, and the job responsibilities that you handle, and the expectation your
management has and performance.
2. Workplace Politics Machiavellianism
Workplace politics is the tact of implementing power of social networking within an organization so that decisions can be influenced to certain people’s personal benefits-like access to assets, benefits, status, and pseudo-authority-without regard to their effect on the organization itself. It is known as Office Politics or Organizational Politics.
To its advantage, it can be said that in certain cases, organizational politics can boost interpersonal relations, increase efficiency, facilitate speedier change, and profit the organization and its member simultaneously.
Workplace Politics is linked to a human personality trait called Machiavellianism, which means employing cunningness and duplicity in workplace. It named after the 15th century Renaissance historian and political theorist, Niccolò Machiavelli.
▪ Machiavellianism at Workplace
Machiavellianism has been a subject of intense study over the past many years, especially with the introduction of industries and companies, when a hierarchal model of passing orders and extracting work from end laborers was established. Physical toil wasn’t easy or sustainable over a period of time, so people started practicing Machiavellianism as a mean of moving up the ladder and become instructions.
This “ends justify the means” justification has been observed in the functioning of many of our present-day organizations by industry experts, and the verdict that they have collectivity given is that Machiavellianism not only exists in today’s workplace but is also indispensable part of managerial tactics in today’s age.
People adopt Machiavellianism at work to meet three broad ends-
• Gaining and Maintaining Power
• Gaining and Maintaining Influence
• Managing different groups through Manipulation
The power to control people is a hidden desire in most of people, so many individuals are drawn towards engaging in office politics. While some of these go up the ladder using their social networking skills, the majority face highly destructive these individuals and groups may engage in office politics which can be highly destructive consequences.
The biggest blow is perhaps faced by the organization itself. A company works due to its employee, and start competing with each other through under-handed means instead of collaborating, then it brings a creativity crisis as people on personal gains at the expense of the organization. This also cause severe collateral damage as sincere, hardworking employees also sometimes have to unwillingly take a stand with either of the parties to avoid being manipulated by seniors and managers.
3. Workplace Politics- Negative Effects
There are a lot of people who don’t see office politics that way. Many social experts say that Office Politics is just the manner in which different people with varying personalities perform on their way to gaining advantages due to their social skills, persuasion and abilities. Although, they do mention the dangers of manipulating employees, which most often than not, results in Counterproductive Workplace Behavior and Workplace Deviance.
Psychological manipulating is the craft of using social influence to change somebody’s perception in the minds of people, through the use of deception, misdirection and abuse. The objective of these tactics is to gain personal benefits or get an elevated designation at workplace, often at other people’s expense. It must be clarified here that social influence, in itself, is not a negative thing but when it’s used to undermine someone and make the other person appear unproductive, then it becomes a sinister tool.
Industry Experts have studied the presence of Machiavellianism extensively in organizations, and link it with two detrimental forces at Workplace-
• Counterproductive Workplace Behavior
• Workplace Deviance
Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB) is the behavior that describes an employee inducing in activities completely opposite to what he was hired to do. This make him not only unproductive but also harmful to the legitimate interest to the company. This behavior is also linked with the personalities of the employee exhibiting it. A stressful event could lead a calm person to behave in a completely different manner as compared to someone with anger issues.
Workplace Deviance is derived from the term ‘Deviance’ which means deflecting off the accepted norms. At workplace, it is identified as inappropriate employee behavior. Employees exhibiting this behavior do so as retaliation for their unfair treatment at the hands of people. This borders on revenge
and could lead to multiple kinds of deviance like-
• Production Deviance- Leaving early, intentionally delaying work, or taking long breaks.
• Property Deviance- Sabotaging assets, thieving, and making understand solicitations.
• Political Deviance- Showing favoritism, gossiping, or blaming others.
• Personal Aggression- Harassment, verbal abuse, and reprimanding.
4. Workplace Politics- Deviance
People used to think earlier that Workplace Deviance is a cultural phenomenon and depends on understanding of interpersonal skills alone. However, recent data provides that employees exhibiting deviant behavior come from various organizations and almost all counties. This has changed people’s view towards the way work is managed in organizations worldwide. Some very common examples of Workplace Deviance are listed below-
▪ Workplace Abuse
Acts of aggression like display of anger and interpersonal conflict have been linked to Workplace abuse. Many times, employees are subject to abuse at the hands of their supervisors because of
organizational constraints like sleep deadlines, heavy workload, and bad time management.
Workplace bullying is defined as mistreatments of an employee by his supervisors, colleagues, and co-workers. This includes verbal assault, gossiping spreading rumors. Extreme cases may also include isolating someone from the professional’s circle. Bullied employees reduce their productivity, quality of output, and increase absenteeism. Many bullied employees quit the organization and sue it later, resulting in financial losses for the company.
Workplace incivility is treating others disrespectfully and rudely. It can be caused due to an unhealthy competitive spirit, withdrawal, and inept social skills. However, majority of incivility has been linked with lower job satisfaction, lesser agreeable co-workers, and violation of workplace norms for employee respect.
Lateness is the action of deliberate arriving late at work and early leaving. Lateness has cost more than $3 billion dollars annually in US alone. The reason behind lateness is reduced efficiency and output. Employees who arrive late at work keep others waiting for approval or delay team targets. Cases of employees deliberately being late to work and early to leave are established cases of workplace deviance.
▪ Substance Abuse
Deviant behavior also involves employees engaging in substance abuse at work which cause lesser attendance, lower performance, compromising on safety and can lead to other injuries both for that particular employee and his co-workers.
Unsatisfied employees’ withdrawal in order to avoid works tasks or pain, and remove themselves from their jobs. Withdrawal behavior may be explained as employee retaliation against inequality in the work setting. Withdrawal may also relate to job dissatisfaction, job environment, and organizational commitment.
5. Deviance Worksheets
Most often, companies have informal teams that employees from among themselves as per their contract levels and agenda. These unassigned teams move together, dine together, and from their own plans together. They may not welcome people freely into their group form a lack of transparency.
The following worksheet in intended to present a realistic assessment of your workplace so that you reflect on the working conditions of your company, and facilitate a discussion about office politics, business networking, professionals socializing and personal behaviors with other employees.
• Recall a brief incident of something that went well in your office this week-
• What actions caused the good event? What was your contribution in that actions? How much did others contribute?
• Why don’t these successful events happen every day or every week?
• Are staff in your office expected to be formal or informal with each other? What social functions are new associate asked to attend? What is the appropriate attire at the office and other business events?
• What tips would you use to impress your supervisor?
• What according to you, would be the best methods to socialize and get to know other people in your business community?
• What are the social or office behavior that could spell doom for a new associate career while working in your office?
• Are employees’ titles, business relationships and job responsibilities clearly explained to the new associates when they join the company?
• Do the support staff get treated with respect in your company?
• According to you, what should be the “do’s and don’ts” of dealing with support staff, colleagues, and co-workers.
• If your boss has an assistant, what are the tasks that you could assign him and how would you go about that?
• Is decision-making an easy process in your office? Is there too much conflict on the right decisions or is there a passive acceptance of ideas?
• What are your strengths and how do they help in creating a support system for your co-workers to depend on, in their time of need?
6. Psychological Contracts
Psychological Contracts are defined as the standards of behavior, assistance, respect, understanding and empathy that an employee expects from his company. These standards may not be mentioned in Office Letters, as they cannot be qualified or standardized in any way, yet they are essential to an employee as any other parameter.
Employees make psychological contracts with their organization and when these expectations are not met, the employees perceive that as a contract beach by the organization, the same way an employees unapproved leave will be considered a contract beach by the employers. In recent years, many employees have given to workplace deviance due to their perception that the company is not treating them properly. Interestingly, this improper treatment is now lesser related to salary, increments, leaves, perks, commission, etc. and is being increasingly associated with mistreatment at work.
Employees who report misbehavior at work often through detrimental actions themselves. However, this comes as a great cost to the organization as employees resort to deviant behavior as passive, nonconfrontational revenge tactics which is not directed at the person mistreating them, but at the company
itself. They might not openly revolt against their boss for the fear of losing their jobs, but will take their suppressed anger out through acts of indifferences towards their organizations. These acts often involve abusing office resources like interest and supplies, funding data, providing wrong information, working slowly, deliberately being late to office, or through increased absenteeism.
7. Managerial Mistakes
The biggest challenge companies are facing now while weeding out office politics is that they are trying to implement their advanced interpersonal strategies through some very two-dimensional, first generation managers whose views of an organizational as a “Work & Pay” model devastating in today’s times.
Management theorist have persuasively debated the idea that organizations are just groups of people with mutual interest who collaborate for their own gains. Any other method to interpret the working of an organizations has found few successful line of command have been perished in last couple of decades. Those who have survived have an extremely flat management.
Many managers are yet to fully understand the concept of effective politics. A survey taken of managers by a management journal reported that managers think of political skill just disarmingly charming behavior. They also wrongly relate office politics with employability tend to be negligible when there are plenty of jobs in the market. Some related it with economic prosperity. They thought that if people earned enough, they wouldn’t need more, and hence, would steer clear of politics
8. Why is Office Politics a Dirty Word?
The biggest impediment to interpreting Office Politics as something constructive comes from the negative connotation they bear. Over the years, disgruntled employees have reported the politically heavy environment of their workplace as the biggest hurdle to their careers. According to a survey conducted among employees from different companies, the first words that came to their minds when they thought of office politics were- game playing, snide, aggressive, sabotaging, negative, blaming, withholding, non-cooperative behavior.
These past experiences, combined by the anecdotes shared by the people from different companies worldwide, have led to the widely-held belief that indulging in office politics for self-interest can never be a positive thing and is bound to weaken the company. With so much prejudice against it, one can hardly be hardly surprised that politics has become such a dirty word.
Over the years, companies that realized the truth that individuals will always have personal goals that often go against company policy, so getting a team committed exclusively to a common goal without caring about personal agendas may be pointless. They have now shifted their focus into a you win; I win formula where they think of the terms returns on their efforts while of the teams returns on their efforts while calculating their profits too.
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