Organizational politics is the use of coercion and control to limit the power of others in a group or organization. The typical winner is determined by who can create more political allies because his activity (or threat) alone will be successful. Therefore, being adept at politics is not enough – you also have to know how to build political allies.
Organizational politics categories
Political power is a very important part of any organization because it drives the agenda and makes changes to the existing environment for the sake of self-interest. Organizational politics can be defined as “a struggle for money, power or recognition.” This is usually seen in small group settings where people’s interactions are more frequent. It is also important to recognize that organizational politics are not always undesirable. Although it may be considered unfortunate when policies and decisions are driven by political motivations, these same motivations can play a very important role in achieving stability within the organization.
There are two general categories of people who influence the politics of an organization:
These individuals do not always have equal power. There is a general tendency that more powerful members of an organization are less concerned about politics and only focus on the job at hand, while less powerful individuals spend more time dealing with political problems. However, this is not always true – there are many examples where very powerful people get caught up in their own games and sabotage or lose important positions.
Two important things that can cause organizational politics are self-interests and scarce resources. People try to maximize their own self-interests, but they usually do this by trying to get what they want from the organization or its members. This amounts to power and money, so it is perceived as a political act. Scarcity of resources is also an important factor to consider. For example, in many organizations, there is a limited amount of money and this can cause conflicts between departments that are competing for the same funds.
The cycles in organizational politics
In addition, it has been said that organizational politics tends to move through these phases:
Organizational politics can often have negative impacts on individuals in organizations such as losing trust, feeling lonely and/or isolated, poor reputation, avoidance of work responsibility which results in poor performance and/or low job satisfaction, stress accompanied by ill-health or anxiety, which is caused by fear of poor performance or losing a job, and so on. However, there are psychological techniques that can be used to lessen the negative impacts of organizational politics:
It is suggested to address the root cause of conflict by developing a more collaborative environment with supportive human relationships. In this way, it is possible to directly address and minimize the internal conflicts between individuals in the organization. Supporting individuals to deal with their own emotions and addressing the root causes of disagreement are two techniques to minimize conflict in organizations.
An individual can also leave an organization if they feel threatened by political activities within. However, it is important to recognize that sometimes leaving may not be possible, but it is still necessary to alleviate stress caused by organizational politics. For example, in a situation where an individual has a boss that they do not like and are not getting along with, they may want to try and work on the relationship by discussing the problem constructively or perhaps attempt to get transferred within the organization.
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