Politics has been called the art
of getting things done, politics run through organizations of all sizes from
families to villages to corporations to nations. They are not basically good or
bad; they are neutral, to do with as we will. Political goodness or badness
flows from the intent and impact of our actions. Let’s not fool ourselves. We
are not going to be very effective if we ignore the politics of the
organization, the ‘art of getting things done’. Politics involves knowing who
to work with and how to work with them. If we want to change the system, we had
better understand how it works. We can try to avoid the politics of our
company, but we cannot stay outside of politics. It automatically includes us
as a force whether we include ourselves or not.
In your new position you try to
apply the abilities that had worked well in your previous job. You worked as a
direct contributor on projects rather than as a manager, you tried to measure
your success by the project’s success. Some of that worked, but something
important was missing. Your boss eventually took you aside to talk with you
about the realities of life in the corporation. He pointed out that it was very
political organization and that your department’s effectiveness depended on
your understanding how the company really worked. He told you that there was no
excuse for your failing to do this. He was right; you were avoiding politics
like the plague! And the more you avoided politics, the less you knew about
what was going on in the political realms that were so important to the
company’s direction. Knowing less about what is happening is not the way to
become influential; it does not lead to sound management decisions.
A good working environment is not
achieved by moving politics, since we could not do this even if we wanted to.
Instead, we need to recognize that we are participants in our company’s politics.
We need to know the kind of political atmosphere we wish to create and do our
part to bring it to reality.
Experienced mangers have mixed
opinions on organizational politics such as *:
93.2% agree that the existence of workplace politics is
common to most organizations;
76.2% agree that the higher you go in organizations,
the more political the climate becomes;
89% agree that successful executives must be good
15.7% agree that powerful executives don’t act
69.8% agree that you have to be political to get ahead
59.1% agree that organizations free of politics are
happier than those where there are a lot politics;
55.1% agree that politics in organizations are
detrimental to efficiency;
42.1% agree that politics help organizations function
48.6% agree that top management should try to get rid
of politics within the organization.
* Source: Jeffrey Gandz and Victor Murray, ‘The Experience of Workplace
of Management Journal, 23