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Politics in the Workplace

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Politics in a work place refers to two subjects; the appropriateness of discussing political beliefs e.g. the government and discussing the political workings within an organization.

Office politics refers using manipulation of situations, people and power in securing a position or gain from a situation by letting people down but increasing your image, power and status within an organization. Politics is a major part of an organization because people are involved. Decisions pertaining to politics will always encourage deal making, secrecy, rumors, power brokerage, self interests, image building, hypocrisy, cliques and self promotion all these affecting the effective ness of team work. Dynamics among people who make up the work environment play a pivotal part in the way businesses are run (Minar, 2006).

A study by Accountemps show that office politics are a major problem that is on the rise as 18 percent of the administrators time is devoted towards conflict resolving. The end results of politics are very devastating as managers and employees who devote most of their time concentrating on politics have less attention span in their jobs. This leads to financial losses which can translate to losses of jobs (Sardhar, 2008).

 It is very hard for anyone to ignore the politics of their work places as they will be termed as ignorant or culprits as politics are viewed as a weapon of self defense.  A survey carried out by career web site vault. Com in 2007 showed that 35 percent of bosses were open in sharing their political ideologies with their employees and at least 9 percent of the employees were pressured to share the same views with their bosses (Minar, 2006).

 Political discourse is running rampantly in the work places. Two third of the individuals surveyed, confirmed that politics is discussed openly by co-workers and there was a report that 30 percent of these workers tried to swing the votes of others. The game of politics at the work place can be played by individuals or teams who work together resulting in benefits and interests of the organization or destroy it. This double edged sword can create a dynamic, happy and improve the working environment or it can destroy it completely.

 Politics at work are everywhere in the world but in India they have taken an advanced and dangerous approach where people feel threatened by them and they have chosen to stay away (Minar, 2006). Conflicts are present in any work place but securing success of the organization and that of employees is determined by how the conflict is tackled by both the employees and the organization. The complexity of work place conflict can turn work places into battle fields which are very ugly and nasty. The bone of contention is mostly power with those holding it taking advantage of others and situations to manipulate things.

Employees taking things personally can hamper their professional and personal lives. People have compromised their morals and conscience by making things work for them through playing with emotions of other people (Sardhar, 2008). It is unavoidable to indulge with work place politics as they enable one to connect with people, identify power source and be familiar with current affairs, people’s intelligence and their weaknesses and strengths. Some ethics can be followed in trying to create healthier working places.

These are; (1) stressing performance-giving rewards to those who have earned them and not as away of returning favors. (2) Acceptance of recommendation on the basis of merits- acceptance should not come because you like the person who is recommending you personally. (3) Rejection of unsound recommendations-this should not result from enmity but should be based on genuine reasons. (4) communication- open communication on anything ranging from changes, promotions and new plans kills the thriving of rumors. Immunization of the culture of favoritism and deal making is toned down by managers who take time to fully explain their decisions. (5) flexibility- it is advisable for one to be easily approached and accessible to other as isolation can occur due to rigidity. (6) Having a broader perspective- this helps in giving every one a chance to air their thoughts and avoiding the satisfaction of ones ego always (Minar, 2006).

Many people who don’t have huge work loads find themselves at the risk of over indulging in office politics. In many places   trainers and the human resource professionals can be part and parcel of these politics making the less productive. State statues have a lot of say in the handling of workplace politics. A good example is the Tennessee code annotated section 2-19-134 which makes it illegal for an employer to demand an employee must vote in a certain way to safe guard their employment (Sardhar, 2008).

 It is also unlawful to take a displinary action against an employee who failed to vote in a certain way. Discharging an employee on the basis of voting or not voting is also viewed as unlawful. Lastly, circulation of statements coercing employees to vote or cease to vote in a certain way is also illegal. Anyone found guilty of violating this statute is fined between $1000 and $5000 or go to prison for up to six months.

 A survey carried out by Roffey Park research firm involving 490 managers showed that 60 percent of them believed that, their greatest cause of stress was the rise in their organizations political behavior.  According to Valerie Garrow, a principle researcher at Roffey Park, the decline of the traditional hierarchal structures has been replaced with more democratic ones which have led to the increase in organizational politics. In the absence of the traditional career ladders, networking and influencing become crucial in building of careers.  Gender, race and age are still used to judge people and their abilities are overlooked. If politics cause distress and haunts during your off hours it is advisable to use the union that exists at your work place to address this issue (Sardhar, 2008).

 Most unions treat discrimination of any kind or any situation upsetting the work place very seriously and they always work hard to find a solution. In the absence of the union the labor board in any work place can fully address any complaints arising. There are government websites for both employers and employees addressing issues on mediation and safety to fairness.  If everything else fails and one is really unhappy in their work places, it is good to consider moving on as an option as no job should cause mental anguish and stress (Sardhar, 2008).

  Work place policies should be politically independent to avoid filling of cases citing discrimination. When elections are approaching it is very hard to keep political debates out of the offices. Many offices limit political debates to lunch breaks and require the employees not to place any materials that relate to their political affiliations on their desks. Political recruitment is prohibited within the office premises. Bosses should be careful on how they express their political views to the employees. Calling a group of employees for a meeting and giving a speech and campaigning for a particular candidate is not advised. Sending out a memo or an e-mail expressing support to a certain candidate is not ethical. Transportation of employees on the Election Day using company vehicles should be voluntary and not as a bribe to go and vote for a certain candidate.

 Most of the states in America have provisions allowing workers to take paid time off on election days to go and vote for their preferred candidates. It is always good for one to maintain integrity when discussing politics at work, be it the office politics or the countries politics. This is good in maintaining conducive working environments and not straining team work which is very important in increasing productivity at places of work and thus avoiding financial losses.

How Politics in Work Place Play a Vital Role in the Business World and Organizations

Politics in work places are attributed to the formation of clicks which aims at keeping those who go against the status quo at bay by labeling them as outsiders. It is also viewed as a toxic dynamic allowing manipulative behavior in assisting people to get what they want even if it includes stepping on the backs of fellow coworkers (Pitts, 2008).

 Not in all instances that work place politics are selfish maneuvers to winning. University instructor Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts a US marine who turned into a business professor has written a book; Building Great Teams: Charting the Path of Organizational Politics (Book Surge, 2007). He takes the reader into the United States Marine Corps which is one of the greatest organization build through team work in the word. He examines and states the strategies that the leaders in the business world are supposed to employ, use and willing to learn in molding ordinary teams into extra ordinary people.  They are also supposed to have understanding on the necessary measures taken to ensure that they win in the battle field of business and conquer work politics by use of warfare as the key to a significant win through rallying the right team of commandos (Pitts, 2008).

His definition of the work place politics is the use of power in acceleration of careers of future leaders who have high potential and powering teams in work places as a path to smart growth. He sees office politics as being positive and offering opportunities for greatness. People can learn to understand the purposes of office politics since they are unavoidable. They can be used in strengthening interpersonal communication, building team dynamics and in management of responsibilities with polish, tact and poise. If politics are well understood and used as strategic weapons, they can help one in charting the path of both personal and professional growth resulting into peak performance (Skipper, 2007).

 Organizational politics are responsible in acting as hidden treasures that allow people to stand out from the crowd. These people demonstrate their capability of building strong teams after navigating through the maze and this is a very positive task to any individual and there is a perception that these people are extra ordinary leaders. This is the type of a person that everyone follows and emulates and strives to be more like. Similar to a military engagement for one to win they have to know the rules better than their competitors and outsmart their opponents in the battle field. A lot of benefits are drawn by being in the right team in order to have better control in the battle front. Many issues present in the battle field are also commonly present in the work place contrasting the arguments that the two are extremely different. One factor that is similar is the people and any time people are involved in a situation n, decision making is crucial in the ability to win. In the US Marine Corps people are mandated to make critical decisions up from the officers with high ranks to the lowest ranking officer and these decisions could spell life or death and this is similar to the work place.

 Critical decisions undertaken by people in an organization could enable it to acquire strategic assets (executive decisions) or making sure a customer is treated better and thus does not with draw business from the organization. These two could spell life or death to a particular organization. A good example is the Wachovia Bank where the top level leaders acquired the Westgate Financial in boosting their mortgage business (Pitts, 2008).

 When the financial crisis hit America and there was a bust in the mortgage market and industry most people were laid off from this bank which is one of the largest in the country sending a death knell to people’s careers. This is similar to the military battle field whereby when leaders make a series of bad decisions the result is loss of life.  Business is a major battle field with a lot of warfare and only those who have an understanding in navigation of politics win.

Work place politics are like a game of chess requiring strategies that are well planned and mental patience and acuity and a lot of practice over years to reach the elite status (Pitts, 2008). A great leader must have the ability to guide the organization and this can be properly done by understanding the work place politics. There is only one winner in the game of chess and through good negotiations a savvy leadership can ensure the organization wins. Chess is a low-key game quiet normally played by friends but it can also be very explosive when it in a setting where the crowd watches and cheers on making it very competitive. The ultimate winner in this game is heaped with accolades from everywhere in the world. This is the same thing that happens to an extra ordinary leader who successfully steers their teams to great heights of success (Pitts, 2008).

Relationships between individuals that are dynamic play a very vital role in the way the business operates and people will always talk politics ma king them part and parcel of the organization (Skipper, 2007). Team building is the quintessential aspect of politics in an organization. Individual workers are long gone and in their place is the demand that workers must able to work effectively as teams to produce outcomes that are extraordinary consistently in all their performances. The managers and all top leaders are familiar with this scenario (Pitts, 2008).

 Effective and efficient processes are required by the organization, people, and systems in approaching towards innovative and new ways of attaining the mission- critical objectives. Good leaders are long gone as the global economies seek for greatness. Extra ordinary leaders are required in the work place new battle fields and they should be familiar with work place politics and the landscape accompanying them should be significant. The past silly political conflicts can no longer be tolerated as they were a recipe for invitation of disasters. Leadership has a better understanding of the work place politics and uses them as strategic weapons for production of better returns without engaging in mud slinging and immoral, unethical actions (Skipper, 2007).

 The epitome of charting the path of politics in organization is maneuvering via political warfare enabling the organization to rise to the top of its industry, without wounding any soldier in the battle field. A well crafted battle field is very crucial by making sure you understand the players, build positive alliances and coalition forces by making use of the art of war as a strategy which is significant in war fighting and make sure all the stake holders understand this. One should be able to compel a case study for the organization to enable all the associates to understand an approach which is comprehensive in integration of team development initiatives and human capital into the business (Skipper, 2007). Best leaders are considered as people who have a better understanding of the nature of warfare and can deal well with work place politics and find a way of overcoming them. These are people who can tone down the pulse at work both externally and internally and know how to take their subsequent teams to greatness and still remain ethically in the team (Skipper, 2007).

Engagement in a battle field that is tainted with work place politics may lead to many people asserting their power negatively and making sure they always get what they want. This is a toxic behavior that leads to the elimination of any possibility of influencing a win from the leadership or the organization. Influence generates the best kind of power and it is subject to character, behavior and how much people value the system in driving them to be responsible in charting the pathway (Pitts, 2008).

Team leaders rarely reach their targets but not due to lack of talent but due to their naivety in understanding the complexities involved in team dynamics. Smart Leaders should make good use of strategic-execution methods that they understand well in coming up with ideal tem models suiting their respective environments and determining the skills they look for and the ones they avoid and making sure they coax great performance from day one from every one. Leadership should not be viewed as just a method of playing political games but as a means of accepting responsibility, keeping ones word and taking the heat.  Extra ordinary teams engage maturely in politics as they are driven by extra ordinary leaders. These extra ordinary leaders enable their teams to deliver superior, significant performances over a long period of time. Great teams have the privilege of experiencing a great professional mastery that is characteristic of any great team. The teams go through a furnace forged process of development which is professional, strategic execution and transformed thinking.

Whether work place politics are good or evil they are here to stay and the ancient belief that leadership is an engagement in the battle field should be discarded. The only way through which the battle field can be successfully engaged is by making sure the teams are well engaged in politics and ensure a win is achieved through fair tactics. The aim of teams is to ensure that every team player is made unique and they work hard in order to improve their potential. There is more to work place politics than the negative encounters that occur daily such as back stabbing, bullying, manipulation of the system and gossiping by fellow co workers

 It is imperative for the team leader to make an identification on areas that need an improvement and know the working style of all the members who makeup the team. It is always good to learn new things that can contribute towards improving efficiency and productivity. It is deemed appropriate to adopt a working style that maximizes the team advantage and switching styles when it is necessary.

   Team building enhances productivity, motivation and lends a great assistance in forming bonds among team members. Team building exercises weathers down personal and political barriers, and minimizes distractions and enables the team members to have fun. By using politics in the work place in building teams and improving cohesion has a positive influence on the business and enhancing relationships between the employees of an organization.


Politics will always be an integral part of an organization as long as there are people present in the organization. Most people view organizational politics negatively as they see them as ways used by certain clicks to get what they want even if the methods they use are unethical. People who are outside the clicks are viewed as outsiders and are kept away from benefiting from the work place politics. Politics at work place have been shown to bring about success by using the model of the US Marine Corps who are recognized throughout the world for their success. The leadership of an organization is supposed to let the workers to freely engage in politics but derive a positive impact instead of the usual conflicts and enmity.

The leaders can benefit by the use and understand strategies that can be used to defeat work place politics through utilizing war fare and ensuring a significant win. Power can be used to accelerate careers of future leaders in a place of work and ensuring the success of team work in a work place. Work place politics are always present and thus people should strive to understand their purposes instead of shunning them.

 Through these politics people can find their voices and get a glimpse in understanding in the dynamics of team building and develop good communication skills between them and their colleagues. Leaders who manage to use work place politics to build strong successful teams are a great source of inspiration to the rest of the people in the organization and every one emulates them building a great basis for success. Business is a battle field and winners have to come up with better strategies and properly navigate politics than their opponents to ensure a win in their particular field.

 A great leader with a clear understanding of the work place politics is needed in leading the organization to success. It is the high time that workplace politics were turned around to have a more positive impact in organizations than to be a source of all types of conflicts. An atmosphere should be created where people can engage in politics, build strong teams and achieve optimal productivity.


Kartoch, A. (2006). Internal politics at work places. Retrieved on 18thmarch from http://wn.goldenprose.com/?q=node/276

Minar, J. (2006). How to deal with office politics.  Retrieved on 18thmarch from http://www.articleclick.com/Article/How-To-Deal-With-Office-Politics/3250?parse=1

Pitts, D. (2008). Why work place politics charts a great way of building teams. Retrieved on 18thmarch from http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-Workplace-Politics-Charts-the-Path-to-Build-Great-Teams-and-Performance-For-Organizations&type=sv&id=1789424

Pitts, S. (2008). Work place politics and charting a path for performance. Retrieved on 18thmarch fromhttp://www.fastcompany.com/blog/damian-d-skipper-pitts/humansigma-ideation-series/why-workplace-politics-charts-path-build-grea

Sardhar, M. 2008). Politics at work place. Retrieved on 18thmarch from http://www.citehr.com/119094-politics-work-place.html

Skipper, D. (2007). Building great teams. Book surge publishing

Skipper, D. (2008). Business warfighting for great teams. Book surge publishing

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