Managing Internal Politics

Every workplace has internal politics, even the ones that say that they don’t. Internal politics can be a negative or a positive contribution to the business depending on how they are executed in your workplace. To get an insight on how the politics are run in your business you need to identify the possible political arenas that could occur or co-exist in the business. These will include, minimal, moderate, highly and pathological political arenas.

Minimal Politics

This will be an amicable atmosphere where debate and conflict are rare. If a conflict should arise it will only last a very short time. In this environment peoples’ promotion and other gains are seen as a positive rather than a loss to others. This is an ideal environment for those who don’t like being in a political struggle or an aggressive political environment.

Moderate Politics

These businesses operate on commonly understood and authoritative rules. They are often small, fast moving firms where customer focus, results, teamwork and trust play a huge role in the business. Should a conflict become out of control in this type of business the manager will all ways return back to the rules and call upon them to resolve the matter. Some larger businesses may have a moderate political arena especially when the focus on the dexterity and agility factors.

Highly Political

Conflict is likely to occur in a business that has a high political arena. People rely on aggressive political methods to resolve the issue in which unfortunately hinders the problem rather than constructively focuses on a resolution. Formal rules aren’t regularly applied in this type of business and are more than likely only pursued and applied when it is convenient. Groups are clearly defined in this business and communication lacks with senior managers and authorities. It can often run at an extreme dysfunctional pattern as placing blame is a regular event and looking for solutions to problems is rare.

Pathological Politics

These businesses have an unstable workplace and are likely to selfdestruct. It is an untrusting environment and conflict continues for a long period of time. Interactions with team members are often uncomfortable and awkward. Most the time people are covering their tracks and respect is a lacking contribution within the business. Each political arena has its weaknesses and therefore changes and adjustments should be made to ensure the workplace is a comfortable, enjoyable place to be with minimal political pressures as possible. If politics are high on the business agenda and need to be reviewed, below are some things that can be changed to reduce the possibility of self destruction.

  • Flattery – this can be a dangerous situation. If senior management or people in high positions are regularly receiving flattery it can cause aggression and discomfort toward these people. Flattery should be given wide spread across both sectors – the people in lower rated jobs and those in higher positions.
  • Communication – if information is regularly with held because someone doesn’t want to rock the boat so to speak, then this will potentially be a disadvantage to your team and your business. People need to be encouraged to speak freely and contribute ideas, successors and have an opinion whether it to be agree or disagree.
  • Gossip – even where there is a small amount of conflict, gossip and backstabbing is a common occurrence in the workplace. Reducing this can be difficult but must be controlled and sorted through resolution and strategy.
  • Indifference – having an environment where no one is valued and everyone is considered as dispensable is a disturbing environment as everyone is looking out for themselves while battling others so that they can get them before they get you.
  • Mislead – misleading others so that the credit can be passed to someone else is a factor that needs to be eliminated. Teamwork is what brings a business to success and therefore the lack of support to each other in the workplace can have a devastating affect. The sacrificing of others so that you don’t look bad is a brutal move that will concern everyone.

Managing workplace politics requires you to decide on a political style that will match your workplace culture. You will need to determine if you are:

  • A Purist – hard work will get you everywhere, politics rarely exist and rules are relied on to get things done.
  • A Team Player – working together will get you ahead while politics are used equally to advance the goals of the group. Group needs are put ahead of career and focus is on doing the job right within a moderately political environment.
  • A Fighter – an individual. Politics are likely to be subliminal but will invoke rules when they help to achieve personal goals. Trust doesn’t come easy and their tactics are to achieve above the rest. The fighter is a survivor and will battle through high political arenas and pathological ones.
  • A Manoeuvrer – an individual with a mind to play political games. This is their plan to get ahead however it is very skilled and unobtrusive. A manoeuvrer will use politics to meet their objects but not as much as the fighter. They can be related to as a smooth operator and do things to suit them and if it will benefit them in some way or other and will squash those who get in their way. They are ideally suited to highly political and pathological arenas.

Politics exist whether we want them to or not. You just need to identify and eliminate at prevalent times and maintain a focus on how your business needs to be run to meet its objectives. If you are able to make politics work to meet the business objectives and it doesn’t cause lack of productivity, self-destructiveness or team morale.