Why Does Politics Exist in Organisations?
- Vandana Sharma
Often when there is a conversation on company culture, the pivot hinges on transparency, fairness and high integrity. I am yet to see a company that wants to grow big ethically, has the “awesomest” culture and does not have Integrity, Honesty, Fairness and Transparency as its core values & beliefs.
When every organization starts out that way, why does politicking back-stabbing and diplomacy creep in with the time and become a threat to the company's culture, growth and happiness quotient?
Refraction of Vision from Top
Company's vision gets diluted through layers of hierarchy that get built as organizations grow. Just like a ray of light undergoes the phenomenon of refraction through a different medium, if the values are not clear and assumed as passed through newly acquired middle level management, first time managers, they are lost in transmission and appear elsewhere in a fuzzy unclear display. It is not aligned with what leadership wants.
The Era of Explorers / Treasure Hunters Sets InThe rise in opportunities in a high growth environment attracts people from all other sectors / non-domains in search of higher growth prospects. They may or may not be the best fit with company's culture. This leads to the following -
- Massive duplication of work due to unstructured /grey boundaries.
- High competition among peer/ teams. Power struggles
- Newly hired high caliber talent tries to prove their abilities at whatever cost possible.
- JealousyLack of trust
Transition from Start-up to Mid Size/ Large OrganisationFounding and early start up employees become a misfit in newer larger set up. The issues that come up are:
- Right of entitlement: amongst old timers. Issues like "I know how things work here”
- Role shrinkages: More people to take on specialist roles than generalist functions.
- Personal insecurities: Uncertainty about own future and perceptions of wider world.
- Ambiguity: Unstable and dynamic environment. Frequent changes in strategies and dynamics.
: With high potential hires, the potential of existing managers becomes a question mark. The managers are not adept at managing teams and channelizing everyone towards a common goal. Often the reasons politics happen is a gullible weak boss. Some of the reasons / signs of a weak manager:
- Divide and rule: Pitting one team member against the other
- Unable to let go of control/ lack of ability to delegate
- Their communication is vague and unclear be it high level strategy goals or team KRAs
- They are inaccessible to their team
- Always complain of being busy
- Poor at decision making
- They restrict visibility and growth for team
- They carry out subjective evaulations
How can one prevent Politicking and back-stabbing?
- Sunshine is the best disinfectant: Transparency in decisions
- Have open culture in the true spirit: Approachability across levels.
- Communicate: Organization priorities clearly and allow space and scope for high potential talent to grow.
- Unbiased and neutral leadership: Stay neutral and communicate priorities across levels through all mediums/ channels of communications.
- Clear policies on evaluation, promotions and compensation strategy
- Eliminate fears and bad influences in the system.