Organizational politics or office politics is one of the biggest constraints to productivity and office morale. At some point, we all have been involved or victimized by some sort of office politics. Organizational politics is not necessarily negative all the time, but in the long term in most of the cases it ends up destroying the office culture and hamper organizational growth.
Office politics is generally taken up for personal agenda or growth, and it eventually leads to secrets, lies, backstabbing, gossip, etc. It usually occurs when the office ecosystem is not favourable to healthy communication and openness to personal growth. The office wherein the employees are insecure, is the biggest target of office politics. For example, one of the common scenarios which I have witnessed as Senior Project Manager at PromptBytes, (an Application development company in Atlanta) is when two employees are working on the same project, one employee notices that his colleague is about to make an error but instead of stopping him he lets the error happen and then approaches his boss to complain about the error while claiming that he has taken all the corrective measures to stop the error from happening. This is a typical example of negative office politics, and this will help one employee gain credit, while putting the other down.
Negative effects of organizational politics
Organizational politics can turn out to be very dangerous for the organization. It is very necessary to take proper actions to avoid office politics and maintain healthy environment in the workplace. Here are some of the negative effects of organizational politics:
- Decrease productivity of the employees - Employees involved in office politics pay less attention to work and spent more time criticizing other employees or backstabbing them. This results into lower output by such employees, delay in work and eventually affect the productivity of the organization.
- The workplace environment is spoiled - Employees busy in playing office politics are bound to make more mistakes as they are more interested in spoiling the image of other employees in front of the manager. Politics spoils the relationship between employees and thus lead to creating a negative environment at the workplace.
- Demotivates the employee - The presence of office politics demotivates the employee. When a non-performing employee takes all the credit of the performing one, it decreases the morale of the performing employee and then result into lack of enthusiasm and motivation among the employees.
- Divides the employees – lack of team spirit - Office politics between the employees of the organization result into lack of harmony and cooperation at workplace. Politics destroys the office culture and unity between the employees and creates divisiveness.
- May lead to employee burnout - The victims of the office politics eventually end up being frustrated, feel high levels of stress, lack enthusiasm to work and slowly develop hate towards the job. All this are great symptoms of employee burnout and it is a harsh condition for the employee and also for the organization.
Measures to manage and overcome organizational politics
Before the office politics result into destruction of the organization, necessary steps should be taken to get rid of it. Here are a very measures that will help managers to handle the organizational politics:
Maintain open environment at the workplace - When the working environment is open to conversations and information, it will become difficult to create negative influence at the workplace. With such lack of power to dominate, no one would be able to play politics. A free flowing work environment will also spread positivity and motivate the employees to work at their full efficiency.
Research and study the ongoing office politics - Instead of ignoring and acting being unaware about the situation, as a manager one should investigate and research on how politics in currently working in the organization. Find out the employee involved in the politics and discover the methods used. Pay attention to the efforts of the employees directly instead of hearing it from someone else. Create a strategy against the politics going on and strategize on the same.
Suppress attention-seeking behaviour - Managers in most organisations believe that employees complaining about disagreements, conflicts or mistakes of other employees, should be discouraged and managers should try to avoid getting involved in such matters immediately. But the best way is to instruct them to figure out a way to resolve the issue by themselves. This will be disqualify the political cards being played by the employees.
Conduct performance reviews and give feedback - Conducting regular performance checks and providing feedback about the work done, will have drawing the conflicts away. Discussing how everyone is getting along with others and advising them to help each other, will help develop the team spirit and boosting their morale.
Promote favourable office culture and core values of the organization - It is important for the employees to be aware about the core values of the organization they are working for. Promoting favourable office culture, supporting team spirit and maintaining healthy competition among the employees will help keep the motivation high. When employees live through the core values, they become fully aware about what is important for the organization and thus fulfil the purpose.
Remove dependencies - Avoid creating dependencies between departments or people. Independent employees bother less about other stuff and rather focus more on their work. This will also distribute equal powers and there wouldn’t be any negative use of power.
The positive side of the office politics
As a matter of fact, organizational politics also has a positive side. It is a need for people to influence others in order to gain success. Here are some of the ways in which the office politics brings in positivity:
- Encourages healthy competition among the employees - Positively influencing the supervisors, employees may create a healthy competition amongst the team. This will also improve the efficiency of the employees.
- Polishes the ability of distribution of tasks - Office politics allows the distribution of tasks to lower authorities. When the tasks are distributed frequently, the ability to delegation of work is improved.
- Improved efficiency - When employees are aware about the ongoing politics, they tend to work even harder. This will result in increased efficiency and output of the work.
- Confidentiality is maintained - The main bone of politics is to keep secrets. Thus confidentiality is maintained inside the organization without having any trouble or incurring high costs.