How to Manage Policy at Work
Managing the political game in business may not be the most enjoyable part of your job, but it is essential to your success as a manager. Here are some helpful tips for anyone leading a team. There is always a political aspect at play in almost any department or company.
What is it exactly?
It’s about employees acting in putting their own interests before those of the company, and those of their employees and bosses. While this dynamic is more common in some companies than others, few are completely free of it. In fact, 65% of employees recently surveyed by Robert Half say it is necessary to play politics in the workplace in order to outmaneuver others. This poses a challenge for managers: if left unchecked, the negativity induced by an overly competitive work environment can create a toxic atmosphere that damages employee morale as well as their retention efforts.
Of course, a little healthy competition among your team members isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s a fine line between an environment that enhances team performance and one that breeds animosity and rivalry. Here are some tips on how to effectively manage political gamesmanship in the workplace: 1. Take stock Do your employees feel like they have to compete with each other to succeed, or at least to keep up? Even if you think you know the answer, make the effort to ask them and observe them. Take a step back and evaluate the work environment by putting yourself in your employees’ shoes.
Are roles and career paths clearly defined?
Are public rewards and promotions closely related to performance, or are they sometimes only given to the most talented for self-promotion? Before solving the problems posed by the political game in the company, you need to look at the situation from the perspective of your team members. To be effective, politicians must be well informed about the issues that affect their constituents.
The same goes for the relationship between managers and employees. So when it comes to workplace politics, ignorance is not bliss, so try to be in tune with the mood of your team members. Encourage employees to come to you with their issues. Also, since there are some issues that not everyone dares to raise, take the initiative to communicate regularly with each team member. These informal, one-on-one discussions will help you gauge the mood and nip problems in the bud.
Intervene when necessary
It is normal for people to disagree. There will always be power struggles, turf disputes and pettiness. While you can’t afford to intervene in every office dispute, don’t sit idly by if a conflict is affecting productivity and company priorities. When it’s clear that you must intervene, set up a meeting or video call and listen carefully to the opinions of each party involved.
If you see that someone is often the source of friction, schedule a meeting with them quickly. Manipulation, backbiting, sabotage and the need to be the center of attention are very destructive (and potentially contagious) behaviors. Your willingness to address disagreements as soon as they arise – and in a forthright manner – will go a long way toward maintaining a healthy work environment.
You are obviously willing to go to great lengths to retain your best people, but not at the expense of others. If you set special rules that only seem to apply to certain people, you will only create resentment. It’s all a matter of perception. If you’ve reprimanded staff for being late for video conferences, you can’t turn a blind eye if your best employee continually does it. Similarly, if you allow your closest employee to work flexible hours, others should be entitled to the same. Special treatment can lead to a feeling of entitlement and can annoy everyone else. You must be known for your fairness and your ability to treat everyone equally.