En­ter­prise: Strate­gies to sur­vive of­fice pol­i­tics

Business a.m. - - COM­MENT - TIMI OL­U­BIYI, Ph.D. Dr. Ol­u­biyi holds a Ph.D. in En­trepreneur­ship and Small Business Man­age­ment. Dr. Ol­u­biyi, an en­trepreneur­ship and small business man­age­ment ex­pert, is a char­tered mem­ber of the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Securities & In­vest­ment (CISI). He

IN BUSINESS, ONCE YOU have more than just one em­ployee, you run the risk of hav­ing pol­i­tics in your work­place. The work­place in it­self is a setup where in­di­vid­u­als from di­verse back­grounds, dif­fer­ent ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions, and var­ied in­ter­ests come to­gether to work to­wards a com­mon goal. There­fore, work­place pol­i­tics most time is the use of the in­di­vid­ual or as­signed power within an em­ploy­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion to ob­tain ad­van­tages be­yond the usual le­git­i­mate au­thor­ity. Sim­ply put, work­place pol­i­tics arises when em­ploy­ees tend to mis­use their power to gain un­due at­ten­tion, in­flu­ence, and pop­u­lar­ity in the work­place. It mostly hap­pens when staff places self-in­ter­ests ahead of or­gan­i­sa­tional in­ter­ests. Unar­guably, with the multi-eth­nic na­ture of our coun­try Nige­ria, work­place pol­i­tics ex­ist in vir­tu­ally all or­gan­i­sa­tions and business places, be it pub­lic or in pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions. Pol­i­tics may be pos­i­tive (col­lab­o­ra­tive) if it aligns with the com­pany’s ob­jec­tive or neg­a­tive (de­struc­tive and com­pet­i­tive) if it is full of ma­lign­ing, but the fact is that no or­gan­i­sa­tion ex­ists with­out pol­i­tics. Work­place pol­i­tics can hurt a business and its em­ploy­ees when car­ried to ex­cess. Too much pol­i­tick­ing can re­sult in lower morale of staff, higher staff turnover, low job per­for­mance, thereby low­er­ing the over­all business pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity. The neg­a­tive ef­fects of or­gan­i­sa­tional pol­i­tics are what this piece is look­ing at which can ul­ti­mately un­der­mine the over­all goals of any business. This pol­i­tics re­duces the pro­duc­tiv­ity of staff and even­tu­ally, the business will be at a loss. The com­mon el­e­ment of work­place pol­i­tics is the dis­re­gard of com­pany poli­cies and pro­ce­dure, which is usu­ally or­gan­i­sa­tional in­stru­ments to check it. Of­ten work­place pol­i­tics usu­ally cir­cum­vent the for­mal or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture.

The mo­tives for em­ploy­ees to en­gage in of­fice pol­i­tics in the work­place are things such as staff as­pires to come into the lime­light eas­ily with­out much hard work, job in­se­cu­rity, amongst oth­ers. Staff also en­gage in of­fice pol­i­tics to reap fi­nan­cial, emo­tional, and even phys­i­cal re­wards. Pol­i­tics also arises when em­ploy­ees as­pire to achieve some­thing be­yond their au­thor­ity and con­trol in a short pe­riod. Lack of su­per­vi­sion and con­trol in the work­place could be an­other in­stance of work­place pol­i­tics. Too much gos­sip at work can equally lead to pol­i­tics. Jeal­ous col­leagues can in­dulge in work pol­i­tics sim­ply to tar­nish their col­league’s rep­u­ta­tion to ob­tain ad­van­tages and come in the good books of their su­pe­ri­ors. Work­place pol­i­tics can nat­u­rally re­sult from the com­pe­ti­tion em­ploy­ees have with one an­other and it’s a ma­jor part of ev­ery­one’s work­ing life. Favouritis­ms by business own­ers and sub­jec­tive stan­dards of per­for­mance can also lead to it. Peo­ple of­ten re­sort to or­gan­i­sa­tional pol­i­tics be­cause they do not be­lieve that the or­gan­i­sa­tion has an ob­jec­tive and fair way of judg­ing their per­for­mance and suit­abil­ity for pro­mo­tion. Sim­i­larly, when business own­ers have no ob­jec­tive way of dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing ef­fec­tive peo­ple from the less ef­fec­tive, they will re­sort to favouritis­m.

All the afore­men­tioned po­lit­i­cal be­hav­iours in the work­place have a lot of po­ten­tial con­se­quences on business out­comes and can af­fect com­pany pro­cesses such as: de­ci­sion mak­ing, pro­mo­tion, re­wards and among oth­ers, ei­ther neg­a­tively. To con­trol pol­i­tics, business lead­ers must be aware of its causes and meth­ods. Be­cause if it’s not well han­dled it can cre­ate morale is­sues and low job per­for­mance at the work­place. Hence it is nec­es­sary that business lead­ers, es­pe­cially in Small Medium En­ter­prises (SMEs), be­come pro­fi­cient in es­tab­lish­ing and im­ple­ment­ing a sys­tem of ad­e­quate man­age­ment of this phe­nom­e­non.

Var­i­ous man­age­rial strate­gies can serve the pur­pose of di­min­ish­ing work­place pol­i­tics and are avail­able to business own­ers. Some of these are: en­cour­ag­ing open com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the work­place which can con­strain the im­pact of po­lit­i­cal be­hav­iour. When com­mu­ni­ca­tion is open, it also makes it more dif­fi­cult for some peo­ple to con­trol in­for­ma­tion and pass along gos­sip as a po­lit­i­cal weapon. More so when business lead­ers are non-po­lit­i­cal in their ac­tions, they demon­strate in sub­tle ways that po­lit­i­cal be­hav­iour is not wel­come in the business. Most im­por­tantly business lead­ers and own­ers should be trans­par­ent and gen­er­ally adopt per­for­mance-based cri­te­ria in the business. The suc­cess of any business re­lies heav­ily on the ef­forts of its em­ploy­ees; there­fore, the per­for­mance-based cri­te­ria should be with­out bias or favouritis­m.

Re­mem­ber, if it is po­lit­i­cal be­hav­iours that are re­warded, staff will be­have po­lit­i­cally. Con­versely, if it is per­for­mance be­hav­iours that are re­warded, em­ploy­ees will per­form and be pro­duc­tive. Other man­age­rial strate­gies known to be ef­fec­tive in re­duc­ing business pol­i­tics in­clude in­volv­ing em­ploy­ees in de­ci­sion mak­ing, fos­ter­ing team­work, build­ing trust and so­cial sup­port, pub­licly rec­og­nize and re­ward peo­ple who get real re­sults, bas­ing per­son­nel and pro­gramme de­ci­sions on ob­jec­tive cri­te­ria, de­mand­ing ac­count­abil­ity from all mem­bers of staff and rep­ri­mand­ing po­lit­i­cal be­hav­iour. The start­ing point of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of these man­age­rial strate­gies is to have a thor­ough business struc­ture and in­sti­tute poli­cies to mit­i­gate po­ten­tial neg­a­tive po­lit­i­cal be­hav­iours in the work­place. Work­place pol­i­tics is a huge chal­lenge for business own­ers/man­agers in that it can­not be de­politi­cized but can be con­sis­tently ad­dressed for business out­comes to be achieved and max­i­mized. Good luck!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.