The Manager as Politician (Manager as ...)

The Manager as Politician
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In workplace politics, your network of peers is important as it allows you to be more broadly informed about how the wider business feels about your own initiatives and priorities, and it also gives you a chance to trial ideas before taking them any further, allowing you to initially operate in a safe, cross-disciplinary setting. In contrast to the positives, there are many negative ways that you can engage in workplace politics that will at best result in conflict and at worst have a negative impact on your career.

Whilst your seniority may allow you to just tell people what to do, without winning hearts and minds, you will erode your respect and ultimately your influence. I like to imagine each manager having an energy bar, like in a video game, that is depleted when a controversial override on a decision is made, or an unpopular direct order issued. You must use them tactically and sparingly.

The bar replenishes when you move forward with your team in a congruent manner where they are motivated to go on the same journey as you. Now, there may be times that this is quick, easy and convenient.

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However, the person being left out in the middle feels awful. There are things going on in their team or division that they are none-the-wiser about. The same is also true for those who run a large organization with many layers of management. If you are going directly to the direct reports of your own direct reports about issues that should really involve the person in-between, then you are meddling and it shows disrespect for the person being left out.

Could you not delegate this to them? Could you not coach them to do so? If you wish to be influential and effective as a manager, then you need to engage with others in a professional manner. This may be in contrast to your exact personality outside of work, but you owe it to all that you interact with to be open, honest, transparent and without motive.

You need to operate for the greater good in order to be taken seriously. Those who are unprofessional erode the trust that the organization has in them, and in higher levels of the org chart where trust is of utmost importance, those who cannot demonstrate it will find themselves unable of moving into these roles. If you think that the best way to demonstrate how good your idea or initiative is by just doing it without anyone knowing, then it is likely to cause much more conflict down the line than if you had built consensus in the first place.

Managing the Politics of Evaluation

Going rogue is similar to building up technical debt: For example, if you thought the best way to make big architectural change in the codebase was to just do it silently rather than taking everyone else along for the ride, then you may find yourself unpopular when those controversial code changes end up being forced through because of an impending deadline for a feature, or even worse, blocking the whole deliverable. If you are unable to build consensus, then maybe your idea or initiative is not as good as you originally thought it was.

The last negative area should come as no surprise: Bending ears to force through your recommended candidate so that you get the referral bonus is a terrible thing to do. Using your influence to force others into situations they do not want to be in for your own gain is also abhorrent. Abusing your position to make others feel small, powerless or marginalized is the worst form of politicking and will always catch up with you.

— Empowering ourselves to empower others.

Workplace politics are very real and when understood and harnessed for the power of good, they give you the ability to move an organization forward in a positive manner. When used poorly or for malicious reasons, you can begin to build a snowball of mistrust that will always come back to bite you, and will limit your career. Your email address will not be published. Home Management Growth About. How do politics arise? Politics typically arise because of tension between different types of social structures: The most obvious place where politics can occur. Debate between you and your boss about your own interests, or conflict between your and your direct reports.

The Manager as Politician by Jerry W. Gilley - Praeger - ABC-CLIO

This also manifests in individuals reaching down or up through the org chart in order to spread their influence. There will always be groups of people who are close to each other and protect each other through friendship, camaraderie or shared interests. They have no formal power structure in the org chart, but they lobby and work together. Singular influential people, who may have much more say than others because of their tenure, celebrity or bargaining power can make situations political or difficult to navigate because of the difficulty of building consensus without them.

Learning teams and networks Who makes decisions in your organization? Winning hearts and minds Remember that in order to have influence and to make an impact, you will need to win hearts and minds rather than just telling people what to do.

How things get done

If you are going directly to the direct reports of your own direct reports about issues that should really involve the person in-between, then you are meddling and it shows disrespect for the person being left out. The bar replenishes when you move forward with your team in a congruent manner where they are motivated to go on the same journey as you. This also manifests in individuals reaching down or up through the org chart in order to spread their influence. What do they care about and what are they knowledgable about? Is it because of their tenure or their technical prowess? Remember that in order to have influence and to make an impact, you will need to win hearts and minds rather than just telling people what to do.

Building consensus As companies grow in size, projects and initiatives move forward through collective effort, rather than just the force of will of an individual. Being your best self consistently Appearances and interactions are very important.

Access Check

Building a network of peers Previously we have talked about building a network of peers from different areas of the business in order to share information, get feedback and sound out your ideas. Negative politic patterns In contrast to the positives, there are many negative ways that you can engage in workplace politics that will at best result in conflict and at worst have a negative impact on your career. Misuse of executive order Whilst your seniority may allow you to just tell people what to do, without winning hearts and minds, you will erode your respect and ultimately your influence.

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Going rogue If you think that the best way to demonstrate how good your idea or initiative is by just doing it without anyone knowing, then it is likely to cause much more conflict down the line than if you had built consensus in the first place. Using politics for personal gain The last negative area should come as no surprise: In summary Workplace politics are very real and when understood and harnessed for the power of good, they give you the ability to move an organization forward in a positive manner.

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Workplace politics

Like it or not, managers must develop political savvy in order to succeed as leaders; every interaction has political undertones that affect their performance in the workplace. As politicians, managers are called upon to bring together parties with different and often competing agendas, and to demonstrate the experience, capabilities, and qualities necessary to solve problems and make decisions in a timely fashion.

As politicians, managers must be keenly aware of the human and organizational aspects of conflict—along with techniques to resolve it—while successfully balancing individual, group, and organization-wide goals and priorities.

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The Manager as Politician examines the dynamics of organizational power plays and interpersonal communication, and shows managers how to step over landmines, overcome challenges, and develop the skills and instincts necessary for political survival. Gilley outlines the key roles and responsibilities of the political navigator, who is adept at identifying allies and foes, building trust, and delivering results. Featuring personal assessment and development tools and an extensive listing of related books, journals, organizations and web sites, The Manager as Politician is an essential resource for managers looking to establish effective relationships with employees, colleagues, and organizational leaders, while enhancing their authority and influence.

He then explains how he helps managers navigate the political seas by learning how power, politics, and influence work in their organizations. The outlook improves as managers learn the negotiating, partnership-building, and consensus-building skills they need in order to successfully traverse their political milieux. Gilley includes a hands-on chapter in which managers can develop their own plans and do self-assessment exercises.