Why Does Politics Exist in Organisations?

- Vandana Sharma

Often when there is a conversation on company culture, the pivot hinges on transparency, fairness and high integrity. I am yet to see a company that wants to grow big ethically, has the “awesomest” culture and does not have Integrity, Honesty, Fairness and Transparency as its core values & beliefs.

When every organization starts out that way, why does politicking back-stabbing and diplomacy creep in with the time and become a threat to the company's culture, growth and happiness quotient?

Refraction of Vision from Top

pme mar 2017 04Company's vision gets diluted through layers of hierarchy that get built as organizations grow. Just like a ray of light undergoes the phenomenon of refraction through a different medium, if the values are not clear and assumed as passed through newly acquired middle level management, first time managers, they are lost in transmission and appear elsewhere in a fuzzy unclear display. It is not aligned with what leadership wants.


The Era of Explorers / Treasure Hunters Sets In

The rise in opportunities in a high growth environmepme mar 2017 05nt attracts people from all other sectors / non-domains in search of higher growth prospects. They may or may not be the best fit with company's culture. This leads to the following -
  • Massive duplication of work due to unstructured /grey boundaries.
  • High competition among peer/ teams. Power struggles
  • Newly hired high caliber talent tries to prove their abilities at whatever cost possible.
  • Jealousypme mar 2017 03
  • Lack of trust

Transition from Start-up to Mid Size/ Large Organisation

Founding and early start up employees become a misfit in newer larger set up. The issues that come up are:
  • Right of entitlement: amongst old timers. Issues like "I know how things work here”
  • Role shrinkages: More people to take on specialist roles than generalist functions.
  • Personal insecurities: Uncertainty about own future and perceptions of wider world.
  • Ambiguity: Unstable and dynamic environment. Frequent changes in strategies and dynamics.

 

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Weaker Leadership

: With high potential hires, the potential of existing managers becomes a question mark. The managers are not adept at managing teams and channelizing everyone towards a common goal. Often the reasons politics happen is a gullible weak boss. Some of the reasons / signs of a weak manager:

 

  • Divide and rule: Pitting one team member against the other
  • Unable to let go of control/ lack of ability to delegate
  • Their communication is vague and unclear be it high level strategy goals or team KRAs
  • They are inaccessible to their team
  • Always complain of being busy
  • Poor at decision making
  • They restrict visibility and growth for team
  • They carry out subjective evaulations

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How can one prevent Politicking and back-stabbing?

  • Sunshine is the best disinfectant: Transparency in decisions
  • Have open culture in the true spirit: Approachability across levels.
  • Communicate: Organization priorities clearly and allow space and scope for high potential talent to grow.
  • Unbiased and neutral leadership: Stay neutral and communicate priorities across levels through all mediums/ channels of communications.
  • Clear policies on evaluation, promotions and compensation strategy
  • Eliminate fears and bad influences in the system.

Change before you have to – Jack Welch