Monday, June 23, 2008

Personal Development: Politicking

Before I will start off another interesting personal development topic, I will like to say "thank you" to all who support my blog. I will keep all posting coming. Hope all enjoy and find my blog useful for your own self-development & career advancement.

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

Politicking - who does it and why?

"Backstabber" ----> expression commonly used to describe an employee who strives to achieve personal gain at the expense and detriment of others. Such individuals are generally disliked, but like them or loathe them, most people, at some point, have participated in what is term "political behaviour" at work.

Lets define "politicking" first.

Politicking -----> attempt by individual employees to enhance their career prospects by engaging in behaviour that places them in positions of opportunity or in an otherwise favorable light. Usually taken place outside the scope of one's job.

Lets now see what does "political animals" are who tend to show such behaviour:

1) High self-monitors

They are conscious of the signals that their behaviour gives out and are aware of how it can be used to their advantage. Adaptable to any prevailing political climate.

2) High degree of control

They have a strong belief in controlling their own destiny as opposed to leaving it to circumstances. These people have an ability to manipulate a situation in a way that outcomes favour them personally

3) High desire for power and control

Their need for power and control often shows better than the need to be liked. Able to cope with being unpopular

Lets see what are the factors affecting politicking to take place:

(a) Investment in the organization

Employees who have spent some time building up their career within an organisation are likely to devote more energy and time to politicking as a way of justifying the time already spent developing a power base in that organization.

(b) Scarcity of opportunities outside

Employees consolidating their position within an organization because lack of opportunities outside

(c) Age

As people grow older, opportunity of finding employment gets lower

(d) Immobility

If employees' mobility is restricted as a result of their personal circumstances

(e) Low trust cultures

Lack of trust ----> lack of confidence ----> drafting personal strategies to protect their own interests

(f) Role ambiguity

Blurred divisions of authority give rise to the need for employees to reduce this ambiguity by developing their own allegiances, power bases and lines of authority

(g) Unclear performance target

Employees want to create their own performance criteria

(h) Downsizing

Threat of job losses, politicking seen as a survival strategy


Lets see how to SURVIVE the political onslaught:

(i) Present ideas in favour of organization goals

How the ideas benefit the organization rather than achieving your own goals

(ii) Develop the right image

Adopt a style of behaviour & image that conforms to the cultural norms of the organization. You do not want people to "bad-mouth" you, don't you?

(iii) Appear indispensable

Try to create the illusion that you are indispensable.

(iv) Be visible

Be seen to be taking an active part in social as well as work activities

(v) Develop allegiances

Develop strategic allies at different levels within an organization. Also to be seen to be popular

(vi) Avoid "tainted" people

Avoid too much contact with fringe employees, those whose loyalty and ability are questionable

(v) Support your boss

Finally to be a true politicker, you should be seen to support your superior WITHOUT being labeled as "boot licker" or a "yes man" by others

Conclusion

Political astuteness is a necessary skill in any context. Be it in school, work or within your own group of friends. It happens everywhere. We live in a world where increasingly one individual can benefit at the expense of another.

Therefore we cannot avoid it. Instead we should face it, learn from it, be strong, develop a mind of presence to identify what solutions can be undertaken. Everyone has a unique set of characteristics. The thing is that if you can match your character to the "political animals" around you, you win. If your answer is "no", you are not ready for the "real world".

How to further improve? Through experiences & observation. Tell yourself no one likes to be back-stabbed, treated indifferently; that we should fall from grace, only to climb further ahead to learn how we can be a better, useful person to avoid political conflicts amongst your peers. Leave such people alone. Focus on your goals.

Do not seek revenge for revenge will seek upon you.

Spend more energy thinking how you can benefit from politicking, ride on it, navigate around it to win your next work promotion. I admit politicking will affect you, its not so simple as one thinks. However, if we do not view politicking in a positive way, we will never be strong and will always be the victims.

Then you ask me. How to be strong? Well, one way is to talk with your peers on how others back-stab others, how one tackles a political battle. Surely, there are people in your environment gossip about such matters. Do not get too involved. Just casually ask what happened and how it was solved. As much as you hate them, you need to learn from these people.

At the end of the day, you have to reconcile your own sense of self esteem, integrity and dignity if there is a need to be in the political battle. Do you wish to be the General or the soldier who follows?

If you aspire to be the political General, then learn what a General does and apply his traits to the real world setting. That's how some top leaders be what they are today. They are politically wise & street smart.

Politicking is a game of opportunities - maximize it wisely. Is your GAME now!

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