Workplace Politics and its affect of Organizational Culture !!!

December 5, 2008 at 04:44 Leave a comment


Politics will always be a part of organizations so long as people are involved. Organizations that are overrun with politics, however, will sooner or later take their place among the also-rans. Political decisions encourage hypocrisy, secrecy, deal making, rumors, power brokers, self-interests, image building, self-promotion, and cliques — not a receipt for effective teamwork.

Understanding Office Politics

Workplace politics is not new, particularly in countries like India and tragedy is that most of the time “HR Department” is a center of such activities. Anyone who has ever had any job, anywhere, knows that the dynamics among those who are part of the work environment play an important part in how a business is run. Apparently office politics is an increasing problem according to a study by Accountemps. “Eighteen percent of an administrator’s time — more than nine weeks out of every year — is spent resolving conflicts among employees” (“Surviving Office Politics.” Talent Scout. April 16, 1998).

Besides causing problems for the individuals who work together, the end result can be far more devastating. Employees and managers who must concentrate on the political aspects of work may have less time to pay attention their jobs. This translates into financial loss, which may in turn translate into job loss.

Office politics is something most people recognize when they see it in action, but find difficult to define. “Office Politics: Do You Play or Pass” defines it as “…the use and misuse of power in the workplace” (Alesko, Michael. “Office Politics: Do You Play or Pass,” Today’s Careers).

Avoiding Office Politics

Yesterday, as I was interacting with one of the senior guy in one of the well known company in Bangalore, as per his suggestions, if you cannot avoid work-place politics, we a part of it. Well, that was really shocking. My point is very clear:

If you don’t know the problem; you are INNOCENT. If you know the problem, but don’t know the solution; you are IGNORANT

If you know the problem, you know the solution, but you don’t want to use or implement; you are a CULPRIT.

Like every problem, there is a solution to workplace politics as well, provided you want to be fair in your dealings. To reduce the impact of politics in your organization, consider the following:

Stress Performance. Rewards must be earned –not granted in return for favors. Base promotions, assignments and pay increases on performance. This implies that you must develop a reliable basis for measuring performance.

Accept recommendations based upon their merits — not on whether you personally like persons making the recommendations.

Reject recommendations because they are unsound — not because persons making the  recommendations have a history of fighting your proposals.

Communicate everything. Secrets keep organizations sick. Open communication about promotions, new plans, changes, and bad news — anything that affects the workplace — makes it hard for rumor and innuendo to thrive.

Managers who fully explain their decisions help immunize their culture against deal making and favoritism.

“It is sometimes tempting,” said a manager, “to make a deal with the devil. To tell you the truth, I’ve thought about buying off the leader of the opposition by offering her a good promotion.”

Of course the long-run result of a deal with the devil is the loss of your soul.

Another leader reported, “I knew he was not the best qualified, but I can depend on him to support me and to do what I ask him to do.”

Such political decisions by the leaders crush teamwork and commitment to the overall good.

A short list for reducing politics is:

  • Measure performance.
  • Pay off on performance.
  • Publicize performance data.
  • Reveal the reasons for decisions.
  • Openly consider all good ideas.
  • Shun deal making.
  • Do not enter into secret deals.
  • Avoid all political behavior.


It is easy to blame the system. It is easy to blame others for your faults. Lets not do that and create a competitive and challenging workplace environment.

Generally people who don’t have any work to do, they get indulged in “Workplace politics”. And it is said and painful to say that most of the time HR Professionals and trainers are part and parcels of such politics. As such it self, HR Professionals in
India are not as productive as their counterparts in US or UK or other European Countries, so lets be away from this game of “Workplace Politics”

Sanjeev Sharma



Entry filed under: Organizational Behavior. Tags: .

Workplace Politics Is Not a Game Kelohan Saloma (1975)

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