Office politics is a significant player in nearly every organization. The bigger the organization the bigger the politics become. The “drama” associated with such games can cause serious problems for companies in terms of operations, innovation and morale. Companies that want to beat out their competitors need to keep down the level of politics that are being played in the nooks and crannies of the office.
The first thing we need to understand is that office politics is a normal part of doing business and will be part of any organizations. People are political creatures who naturally fight over resources. Even though the main goal of each employee is to protect the shareholder’s wealth, they also want to increase or maintain their own standard of living. This means gathering friends, collecting resources and increasing power.
It appears as though office politics is becoming more widespread. This is happening because we have moved from an era of command & control type structures to ones that encourage leadership. The concept of leadership has influence, navigation and negotiation imbedded within it. Thus leadership can sometimes mean playing politics.
The research firm Roffey Park conducted a poll of 490 managers and found that 60% of these managers believe that an increase in office politics is the greatest source of their stress. This stress filters down to employees and can cause morale problems. The more negative the morale the more likely you are going to lose good employees, have higher absenteeism and more disciplinary problems.
Operations are also negatively impacted by politics. When employees are fighting over resources and power they aren’t as likely to be focused on the welfare of the company. Judgment can become clouded if it violates a political taboo. For example, a good candidate is passed up for promotion for a poor one only because he doesn’t play golf or associate with the “right” people. Depending on the nature and extent of the political impact on operations the financial strength of the organization can be hampered.
In today’s highly competitive business world innovation is a major factor in maintaining viability. Companies that do not change find their products/services to be earning less revenue and becoming outdated. Innovation is fostered by new ideas that come from employees. A business full of office politics means that employees will be afraid to challenge, bring forth ideas or debate on issues. The more honest debate is stifled, the less innovation a company will have.
Office politics is more than simple gossip. It can impact your organization in profound ways. Such politics help to determine budgets, promotional operations, allocation of resources, power sharing and employee morale. Even though politics is a natural part of human life, its negative effects can be diminished by powerful leadership and transparency throughout the company.