Organisational Politics

Is Organization politics bad?

Whenever we hear the word politics – negative thoughts come up in almost everyone’s mind. Politics becomes bad when there is hidden agenda, using power and influence to further your personal interests, maligning your colleagues etc. Following are examples of bad politics

  • Regional/language bias Well, let’s accept this. We have a comfort feel if we have people from your region or who speak your language. Assume there are 2 people who have more or less the same competence. The person who is from the same region as the boss gets visibility, rewards, recognitions etc. Boss does the image building for this person and ignores the other person completely. So you could imagine the emotional state of other guy. Such issues could happen between peers at all levels.
  • Perception spreading/Image tarnishing Let’s assume that an influential person has some perception about somebody or some thing. This person spreads his/her perception to other people. This could be done intentionally or unintentionally. But the damage it does is profound. If it is about a person, the person’s career is jeopardized or if it is about the project, the project is bound to fail or people involved in that project will get de-motivated or even resign.
  • Hiding important information This point is self explanatory. Hiding important information which is required to do your work is most negative thing I can think of. The person hiding the information wants the other person to fail desperately for whatever reason.
  • Misrepresentation of information In order to protect one’s image, the facts are misrepresented so that someone else’s image is tarnished. Most of the times this person will not be present to defend himself/herself and gets to know only after his/her image is tarnished. In order to change this, the person will have to work hard for quite sometime. Very often it will be difficult to re-establish the good image depending on how influential the person is.

Is Organization politics good?

What is politics? In my experience it includes gossiping, networking etc. Every organization will have grape vine for rumors, gossips, speculation etc. Following are examples of good politics

  • Networking/friends The backbone of office politics is networking. Without network of colleagues there cannot be politics. Once you start networking with your colleagues you will get to know more about your colleagues, their interests, the projects they are working on, the problems they face etc. This has multiple benefits. You know where other projects are positioned; you get information needed for doing your job in a better way, or advancing your career, getting that etc. You will get to know the pulse of your organization by getting to know what is happening within the organization. Most of the time you never get important information from your bosses but from your network and you could prepare yourself for any eventuality. This is most important source of information.
  • Speculation For any controversial topic within organization, there will be speculation. Groups of people speculate on what will be the outcome of this topic and you get various insights into the topic. If it is about who will be next CEO or General Manager, you will get to know who the competent people in the company are. These kinds of speculation open up various possibilities and also offer insight into how your colleague’s thought process works and more importantly it provides invaluable insight into their emotional setup. The speculation could be started by involved parties also, so as to direct the actual outcome to be what they expect it to be. I have seen this working.
  • Career development Little bit of politics will also help you to make advancements in career. You will get important information via networking/speculation regarding opportunities and new job openings. With this information you could position yourself based on your goals and contact the right person with right set of information. As and when you grow higher in hierarchy, the person has to be part of office politics to even retain his/her position or to grow further.

Most of what is discussed above is somewhat abstract, but this is what I have seen in many organizations that I worked for. To summarize, every organization will have politics and you should become part of it even if you like or dislike if you want career growth. Also one should cultivate good friendship and trust with at least some of your colleagues.On the other hand, senior leadership team should ensure that negative politics is not encouraged. It could bring down the organization itself.