The Power And Perception Of Office Politics

Very frequently employees complain of office politics. They complain of not knowing how to “play the game”, not knowing who the players are or they say that they refuse to “play the game.”
 
Nov. 30, 2010 - PRLog -- Politics within an organization is often associated with power and with a negative slant.   Almost invariably, whether they know it or not, people have failed at the game because they didn’t know the players. This doesn’t mean know them by name or position, but rather to know how they communicate, how they make decisions, what motivates them or know their work preferences, strengths and weaknesses. That's where perception comes in.  Alone politics and power are neither positive nor negative.  They only become one or the other as we interact with others and perceive the impact on our work, work satisfaction and personal life.  

Successful people know how to identify (perceive) and surround themselves with people who are strong in areas where they have limitations.  They know how to elicit those strengths from others for mutual benefit.  Too often people tend to surround themselves with others just like themselves.  While this may feel comfortable, it may lead to organizational and personal blind spots.  Your success is not only dependent upon recognizing your own style of interacting, but on your ability to recognize and adapt to the styles of others.  This allows you to direct and lead them to pre-determined outcomes through effective communications and successful outcomes.  

This ability is a powerful tool and those who have it have the POWER!  “Power”?  The mere word conjures up Machiavellian images of success-at-all cost; individuals who would sell their family members to take another step up on the corporate ladder or betray co-workers to get what they want.  Power or wanting power is not necessarily negative.  It doesn’t mean having power over someone else in the traditional sense.  It means having a power within that can orchestrate situations and events and move them toward a desirable outcome.  Most would agree that most of the time we go through the motions of getting things done “unconsciously” or “by the seat of our pants”.  So why not “consciously” determine what we want as successful outcomes and develop the skill(s) that will bring that success?  In an eighteen-month research survey, I found that, almost without exception, the respondents reported the ability to communicate with people at all levels within the organization was critical to success.  They also reported that the more adept they became the more powerful they saw themselves and the more others considered them successful.

So let’s start by getting to know yourself and the other players.  The savvy employee who understands, identifies, and adapts to his/her employer's, direct reports, and co-workers will have the decided advantage.  The players in the game of business (and our personal life) generally fall into four distinct, though not discreet, behavioral “styles”: the Dominant, the Influencer, the Steady or the Compliant.

The Dominant is the hard-charger, probing, pushing, short of time and often with a sense of urgency.  A Dominant wants a quick response and the bottom line.  If you want the attention of a Dominant, you had better display a high energy level, regardless of the time of day or night!  And most of all learn to “keep your head and tongue when all about you others are losing theirs - and blaming it on you.”

The Influencer is far less intense and far more engaging.  They are not only a quick thinker, but also an agile talker, cajoling, exhorting, inducing -- but rarely in a coercing manner.  The key to succeeding with an Influencer is to take the time to be attentive, to understand, and to act accordingly.  The Influencer requires your complete loyalty, and expects you to be often, and openly impressed.

The Steady clears the path, making sure the subordinate has all the tools necessary to "get the job done.”  The Steady is loyal to a fault, caring for others and tries to meet every professional and often personal need.  To succeed with the Steady, follow his/her lead, return loyalty, and show some real initiative by being open about your needs.

The Compliant is a stickler for details, covering the bases, crossing the “t's”, dotting every “i”.  A Compliant does not understand - and will not promote - those who fail to do the same.  If you want to impress the Compliant, stick to the facts and figures, don't  “waste” your time, or theirs, on “pipe dreams” and visionary schemes.  

By answering the following questions, you can begin building your Power and Perception of Politics:
1.Which style describes you best?  
2.Are you a combination of several?  
3.Do you use different styles in different situations?  
4.Think of at least one co-worker or customer who would fit each of the four categories?  
5.If your style is different, how will you adapt to improve your interactions with them?

Clearly, no one is locked into any one of these categories all of the time.  We use different “styles” or traits within these styles in different situations; but in each of us, one style is the most comfortable for us whether thinking about our own communications and interactions or when thinking of someone else’s.  Your “style” is the controlling factor in determining what you choose to do and how you produce the results you want.  The behavioral traits that make up your style drive:
How you solve problems and make decisions.
How you interact or influence others.
How you handle the pace of your environment.
How you respond to rules, regulations and procedures.  

A smart employee learns how to perceive each:  when to push and when to pull back, when to speak out and when to pipe down.  The knowledge of these management traits is a key criterion for job success, promotion and self-reliance.

Contact us at 632-587-7644 if you would like to know your style.  You will respond to a web-based survey and receive a complimentary report that can increase your Power and Perception of Politics.  You responses and report will be totally confidential.

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Management Training Systems, Inc. specializes in providing customized solutions for organizations in the areas of Strategic Management, Organizational Transformation, Building High Performing Teams and Personnel Selection.
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