Amongst the hyperbole and dissent about Margaret Thatcher’s recent passing I have found lots of good, honest sharing of views. I've gained insights that help me to understand the vastly different perspectives that surrounded her – both the woman and the politician. There seems to be more genuine analysis, and less disagreement just for the sake of it (so often the mainstay of all things political).
Like me, I feel sure you have often wished the politicians would treat each other and us – the voters – like adults. Why don't they give us a genuine rationale for their policies rather than just sound-bites? Why can't one party sometimes point out what is worthy in another's views, rather than automatically jumping to decry them?
I am advised that this is a naïve view that misses the whole point of the political arena. That's fine. I am, happily, an outsider to the world of political games – in the parliamentary sense.
But I am not an outsider to the world of politics in business, and yet I still find myself regularly bemused by the unnecessary level of game-playing that goes on in organisational life.
It's not that I think politics shouldn't be a part of business – human nature being what it is, politics are inevitably present when one or more people get together. But there is far too much time-wasting, energy-draining political play that goes far beyond the natural course of human interaction.
Here are my top 5 time-wasting, condescending or just pointless political ploys:
1. Leaders putting a positive spin on messages where there is no positive spin. Everybody can see through this particular ploy. It builds mistrust and cynicism rather than motivation and engagement.
2. Only giving the boss the good news and covering up the bad stuff. This just leads to bad business decisions being taken as leaders try to run a business based on half-truths and lies.
3. Bosses telling their direct reports that they want the truth and then using it against them when they give it to them. If you ask for the truth and get it, appreciate the honesty and never, ever turn it into a weapon to beat the person who has trusted you with it.
4. Yes, it's one of the oldest rules in the plethora of leadership text books – good leaders personally accept responsibility when things go wrong and give others the credit when things go right. This one's getting a bit hackneyed now – everyone knows it so well that they acknowledge you're playing politics just by doing this. Share the recognition when things go well, and share the responsibility (not the blame) when they don't. As a leader, learn from both situations personally and help those around to learn from both as well.
5. Agreeing with a proposal in a meeting and then running it down or distancing yourself from it afterwards rather than sharing views openly and respectfully during the meeting. It's amazing how often, even at senior levels, people will comply in the group and undermine later.
Successful businesses create an environment where people at all levels can be open and honest; most organisations wish to achieve this. Allowing political play to go unchecked is the antithesis of creating such a way of working. So put these pointless political ploys out to pasture!
Let us know about the most pointless political ploys you've encountered in the workplace! Leave us a comment below or tweet us @CommsMasters.
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