Organization Politics

People who move ahead in their companies or organizations usually make use of, consciously or unconsciously, some form of political savvy.

Patricia Fry in her article “Surviving Office Politics” describes this type of politics as being able to deal with people tactfully, knowing whom to count on to get something done, and knowing how to use what and whom you know in a positive way to reach your goal. Politics is simply being able to get things done by making friends, not by leaving enemies behind.

Organizational politics emphasizes the primary communication skills of knowing what to say and when to say it as well as listening intelligently and developing an intuitive sense – gut feeling – about what is really being said “between the lines” or being communicated in one’s body language.

An executive to get ahead should understand the structure of his company (or organization) so he can align his goals with its needs. He should be sensitive to what is going on, do something about it, and go the extra mile in helping move the organization forward in a positive way without giving in to the frustration of those who purposely or unconsciously throw roadblocks in his way.

Making Change Work

To make “change” work, there must be a positive climate for change in the workplace. To establish this climate, we share some tips:

+ Ask employees to suggest ideas for the next change just after the last change. This will reinforce change as the norm, get them to thinking in longer time spans and involve them more deeply in the entire change process.

+ Provide meaningful tasks, especially during the “change” period, that use employees’ old skills. A person will accept change faster if he is able to transfer and adapt some of his old skills to the new task.

+ Provide constructive and immediate feedback about the positive – and the negative, if any – effects of the change with systems in place for continuous improvement as the change proceeds. Research shows that about 50% of the performance problems that occur during a change are because employees aren’t kept informed about what is happening.

+ Put employees on teams with others they don’t know. This will provide valuable cross-learning and promote better interrelations among the team members.

+ Reward people for acting – not waiting until they have all the information. Reacting to the information available at the moment is a characteristic of success during change.

Better Meetings

Set the size of the meeting to fit its purpose. The more individuals are expected to contribute, the smaller the meeting group should be. If a group is too large, contributions will be shallow or people will be left out. Here is a general guide:

If a meeting is for …………………………………….The ideal size is –
Intensive problem solving………………………………..5 or fewer
Problem identification ……………………………………10 or fewer
Informational reviews, presentations ………………….up to 30
Motivational meetings ……………………………………no limit

Sources of these notes:
International Management Review, Vol. 1, No. 11
Lin Grensing. A Small Business Guide to Employee Selection

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