Illustrative Example #2: Introducing Managers to Organizational Politics

In my next to last post, I related to a lack of systematic initiation into organizational politics, resulting in talented and motivated people losing out to folks with more political acumen.

Yesterday, I began the first of five short posts illustrating how to initiate managers for more political awareness in the post 2008 zoo. The goal of these post is not to prescribe behaviour, rather to illustrate a gamut of frequently observed political behaviours, both positive and negative. It is my belief that in the same way that young kids should not learn sex from watching porn stars, neither should young managers  learn organizational politics by being screwed, or by listening to some idealistic consultant or coach describe organizational life as it “should” be.

The first example was related to a project manager named Ted in a company called 3Q. In the next four posts, I will provide illustrative examples about how managers can be politically sensitized. Today we will look a a few particularly Machiavellian tactics in managing your boss.

  • Some people find it useful to support their boss at all times, right or wrong. This helps brand an employee as fiercely loyal, which is seen as a distinct advantage in a highly political environment.
  • There are  things that your boss may not want to know, because he may feel it may implicate him. For example, if a team needs to work every weekend for the next two months, the boss may resist wanting to know. However, it make make sense in certain cases to push unwanted information to your boss to mitigate the blame than the boss’ subordinate needs to shoulder.
  • Over-involving a boss in the level of detail clearly spells out the obstacles that one is facing.  Even though NO is not being said, the expectations of the boss are “managed” more realistically.
  • Disagreeing with a boss does not necessarily need to be done directly. Common less confrontive  disagreement tactics are “yes but”, foot dragging and tacit coalition building with other more powerful people who may help.
  • Often, extremely unpopular bosses get screwed because their bitter employees merely carry out instructions. This is both a legitimate and  powerful political tactic.

You can follow me @AllonShevat

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3 thoughts on “Illustrative Example #2: Introducing Managers to Organizational Politics

    • I am not being judgmental Fred.
      I am trying to illustrate that people need to be initiated into the world of organizational politics systematically. Otherwise the get fucked, in the wrong sense of the word.

  1. The posts are interesting. I am not hearing them as “one should conform to cultural norms; I am hearing as “mindfulness of cultural norms” leads to more enlightened leadership accumen. The posts remind me of David Whyte’s mention of organizational life as the interplay between innocence and experience. Too much innocence and you are seen as a cultural bull in the china shop; too much experience and you are seen as resigned and cynical towards any kind of transformational change.

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