Navigating Organisational Politics

Client Challenge: "Through Hay evaluations and exit interviews, we concluded that many of our newly recruited talent were leaving the organisation because they were struggling with what they describe as "the politics around here". We needed to find a solution to keep them on board and motivated to perform at a high standard."

- Head of HR (Global Insurance Company)



Identify Disablers

During the data-gathering phase with this client, our research showed three significant disablers that prevented top talent from engaging in positive political activity:

Denial - A refusal to acknowledge cultural realities, and that any organisation is a political place. There was a significant tranche of individuals who considered the organisation as a pure meritocracy, and that hard work and being good at the technical side of their job would be enough for advancement and reward. They just did not see organisational culture and politics as something real.

Non-engagement - Where people did accept that an organisation might indeed have a complex culture and a political dimension, there were far too many who viewed politics as something which only their rivals engaged in, and that political activity by its nature was something alien to their value set. In short, these people had wrongly decided that they "don’t do politics”. A change of mind set was required.

Ignorance - We discovered that influence and politics were taboo subjects, that politics was frequently the undiscussable "elephant in the room”, and that a very real and vital skill area was being ignored.

Develop Positive Political Skills

Equip your people with the right attitude and skills to effectively navigate complex organisational politics. Give them tools to help them identify the realities of the organisational culture and the resulting politics -- both the good and the bad.

Deepen their understanding of the 'fourth level of the organisational chart', where the inner circle of influencers and decision makers operate. Help them to build trust and stronger relationships, rather than relying on status or power to get things done. And develop their influencing and negotiation skills so that they can recognise and cut through blocking tactics while keeping their integrity intact.

The result will be a more confident talent pool that is savvy about navigating organisational politics and can get things done more easily and more effectively.

We advocate the following checklist for developing your own political skills:

1. Check your attitude. Politics is simply the tactical way we go about influencing and using our personal power. It is both legitimate and appropriate if we are to be of service to the organisation.

2. Get out of your office. The work is in the matrix, not in there!

3. Identify the fourth level of the organisational chart. Get linked in with this amorphous group.

4. Use appropriate stakeholder tools. When you have something you really care about that you want to implement, ensure that you have worked out the most effective influencing campaign possible.


Contact us for free workshop outlines on developing positive political skills.





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