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5 Tips For Managing Organizational Politics

Zak Brocchini

  • 07-25-2023
  • Blog articles

There’s some form of politics in play in every group at every company. This happens naturally when groups of people are brought together. Organizational Politics is a term for when employees engage in activities to advance their own interests in the company. 

In workplace surveys, a majority of employees say engaging in politics is necessary to get ahead. If ignored, workplace politics and overly competitive environments can create toxicity that destroys morale and productivity, which contributes to turn over. While competition is healthy, there’s a fine line between pushing each other to exceed goals and creating inter-office rivalries. 

Managing organizational politics can be difficult, though it is also critical to the success of a leader. Read below for some pointers for anyone in charge of a team 

Learn the Terrain 

Do you know if employees feel like they have to engage in political jockeying to get ahead? You may think you know the answer, though make the effort to ask and observe your team, you may be surprised. 

As you observe your team, assess the climate from the perspective of employees. Are daily expectations and career paths clearly defined? Are promotions performance based — or does it come down to favorites? Before you can address issues surrounding organizational politics, you need to be able to see the terrain through the eyes of your team. 

Listen to the Direction the Winds Blow 

Effective leaders need to understand the issues affecting their teams. Make a concerted effort to be in tune with the prevailing mood amongst the team. Be accessible and encourage employees to reach out to you with their concerns. Not everyone will be comfortable taking the initiative to discuss certain issues. Proactively touch base with all of your team members periodically. Engaging in informal one-on-one chats on a regular basis will help you to be aware of and address morale problems before they become major issues. 

Step in when needed 

Conflicts are inevitable. Power struggles and territorial rifts will occur. While you can’t referee every minor disagreement, don’t sit by if something is hurting productivity or morale. 

When your intervention is needed, carve out time to listen objectively to the concerns of all parties involved. If one person is repeatedly the source of friction, connect with them individually. Proactively addressing issues early will go a long way towards maintaining a healthy work environment. 

Don’t play favorites 

All managers want to retain their top performers — but not at the expense of the larger team. Rules and expectations should be standard for all team members. When some team members are exempt, it builds resentment. 

If certain team members are given preferential treatment, they may develop a sense of entitlement, and will often push the envelope of what they can get away with. This will upset other team members and create resentment. Establish a reputation for being fair and respectful of all team members. 

Be a mirror 

Employees will take cues from you and will mirror you actions and emotions. Try to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity, definitely steer clear of gossip, and be supportive of the positive attributes and accomplishments of your team. 

Nobody can completely eliminate the negative aspects of organizational politics or be immune to it. Be a supportive, team-oriented manager; your team will follow your lead. 

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