After reading Linda Hill and Kent Lineback’s HBR Blog Article “Stop Avoiding Office Politics,” I started thinking how I REALLY interacted with those around me. What are the politics in MY world? I am not talking about my wife, sons and new daughter-in-law (although new in-laws always add an additional layer to marriage politics). I am referring to my colleagues at Pretium – consultants, trainers, principals and support staff. I fall on the side of understanding that the simple real human dynamics that take place in any organization yield some divergent behavior, even it is just occasional that must to be navigated to create the greatest level of value, both personally and for the organization.
So how do I handle the Pretium political world?
I looked back at Hill and Lineback’s thoughts regarding those people who “consider organizational conflict and competition mostly ego-driven, adolescent games. They want disputes settled through data, analysis, and logic, by what’s ‘right’ — not by who knows whom, who owes whom, or who plays golf with whom. To build relationships simply because they want something from other people is, to them, blatant manipulation … They don’t build productive ongoing relationships except with those few they happen to like personally.”
So what about me?
I like facts and figures. I always want to intensely analyze Pretium’s data results for our clients. I don’t manipulate. I recognize that I must sometimes work with people who wouldn’t be my first choice to take to a concert or play, but I am delighted that “ego-driven, adolescent game” players aren’t in MY world. Even so, I completely agree with Hill and Lineback’s thought that “Unless you reach out, engage others, and create active, ongoing relationships — relationships you sustain even when there’s no immediate problem — you will lack the ability to exercise influence beyond your group.”
If we were really honest, we would realize that sometimes what we call “politics” are just different styles and behaviors playing out in ways that do not match our particular style … someone else’s behavior in a particular situation may not exemplify the way we would act in a similar situation … it may even be offensive to us at times. But do we quit doing business with other people just because we don’t like the way they talk or act? If that becomes our response, the organization will eventually suffer.
For those of us who are in leadership positions, we can never put organizational value at risk because we don’t like the way another person acts, thinks or behaves, or because we have had all we can take of someone’s personality that day. We were not hired to validate others’ behaviors or decide what style we want to work with. We were hired to create value for our organization.
For the manager, value and effectiveness must always win out over our personal likes and dislikes. In their article, Hill and Lineback are absolutely on target when they talk about the ability to win with mature behavior that demonstrates to the rest of the organization how to do it right. Office “politics” is an example of why the Human Dimension of an organization is always the most challenging, yet rewarding, to deal with.
How do you handle office politics??
To Read More on the Human Dimension, See our Blog Post The Wise CEO and the Human Dimension – What Creates the Final Score?