3.10. Solutions Fast Track
18.104.22.168. Corporate Politics: A Primer
- Politics are a fact of life and are present in all companies.
- Power is the ability to create change or to get things done.
- Influence is the exercise of that ability to produce change.
- Politics has been defined as, "the study of who gets what, when and how." Politics is power and influence in action.
- Politics is viewed negatively when it is self-serving and does nothing more than provide opportunities for increasing one's own power. Power, influence, and politics, when positively applied, provide the ability to get things done that benefit all involved.
22.214.171.124. Understanding Sources of Power
- Power can be derived from numerous sources. The primary sources are: organizational, information, resources, performance, expertise, and personal traits.
- Each source of power can be used in positive or negative ways.
- Organizational power often includes information and resource power.
- Performance and expertise are often power sources over which you have some control. In other words, you can improve performance and expertise through effort. Both are sources of power that can be useful in gaining access to other sources of power.
- Personal traits are often things over which we have some control such as how we dress, how we speak, or how genuine we are (or are perceived to be).
126.96.36.199. Understanding Methods of Influence
- Influence is the use of various forms of power to achieve goals or objectives.
- Threats, exchange/barter, and appeals to values, emotions, and reason are the three primary methods of influence.
- Threats work for short-term, "emergency" situations. They generate compliance, but not commitment.
- Exchange and barter are effective methods because they cut across the entire organization. There need not be a one-for-one exchange or an inkind exchange for this method to work.
- Appeals to values, emotions, and reason can be used in a variety of settings. These can generate the type of commitment that threats cannot.
- Appeals to values and emotions, when misused, are seen as manipulative or underhanded in most situations.
- Appeals to reason work well, but may not generate the level of commitment needed for certain undertakings.
188.8.131.52. The Power Paradox
- Power has some very interesting contradictions that are important to understand.
- Organizations work more effectively when more people have more power. When power is limited or restricted, the environment can become negative, self-serving, and limiting.
- Overuse of organizational power diminishes that power. If you constantly use "because I'm the boss" as the method of getting results, you'll erode your power and authority.
- Overuse of power leads to a distorted sense of power. These people tend to overestimate their importance of in the organization.
- Sharing power increases your power. Managers who share power with subordinates generate increased commitment and improved group performance. It helps people learn to make better decisions and helps the group perform at a higher level.
184.108.40.206. Working Effectively in a Political Environment
- Accept that politics exist. Ignoring it will not make it go away.
- Plan on politics being a part of your job. Just about everything you do will be judged based on both quality and politics.
- Develop positive, genuine relationships. Getting to know your counterparts in the business, your customers, your users, and your co-workers creates a positive environment and can counteract a lot of political maneuvers.
- Learn to listen. This prevents you from talking too much and provides you valuable opportunities to gain insights and information. It's also important to communicate effectively and let people know what's going on. This also circumvents political maneuvers that rely in misinformation.
- Know your own values. You'll need to know what you think and believe so you can follow your own internal values when it comes to working in a political environment. When you encounter negative political behaviors, it's important to know in advance what you will and won't put up with.
- Be aware of the changing political landscape. Not only will you fare better if you keep an eye on what's happening, you may also find unexpected opportunities. Be aware and be prepared to leverage those opportunities.
220.127.116.11. Breaking Up Political Logjams
- Within the business environment, there are specific things you can do to break up a political logjam.
- Executive support is important to project success and it can be particularly helpful if the project is being held up by political maneuvering.
- Making the business case for a project is another useful tool for getting an important project underway. If it's been bogged down in the organization's politics, developing a clear and concise business case document may just get things moving again.
- Calculate the return on investment. If a project gets logjammed in the decision-making process, showing the ROI (or in some cases, the reduced total cost of ownership) can jump-start a stalled project.
18.104.22.168. Effective Countermeasures
- In a political environment, finding ways to create win-win situations often is your best countermeasure.
- Delivering excellent service can be an effective countermeasure to a political situation. It addresses a number of organizational power bases including organizational, information, and resource.
- Developing strong relationships with business unit counterparts will help on a number of levels. Sharing information helps increase your power and reduce the political maneuvers that rely on lack of information. It also can give you genuine allies that can support your IT projects or lend their influence to your projects. It can also just make work more interesting and enjoyable.
- Involving the right people in IT projectswhether it's subject matter experts from within the company or internal users/customersyou can increase your ability to get the job done by forging these kinds of alliances as well.
- Information is power and sharing power increases your power. Therefore, sharing information will increase your power and reduce political activities that rely on misinformation or information hording.