Are the effects of the game of power and politics at work negative for everybody?

Imagine that you just got a new job in the company that you were dreaming about. Your goal? To become one of the director or even partner later. How to achieve it? By being strategic; when you want to grow in a company you need to be aware of the different aspect of power and politics in the organization. In this short essay, I will first explain you what is power and politics at work, then I will reflect on the consequences toward the workers attitude and finish with a research that may influence our opinion about the real negative effects of organizational politics.

What is power and politics at work?

Politics in the workplace can be defined as the office politics or the organizational ones. Precisely it’s “the ability to understand and effectively influence others for personal or organizational benefit.”[1] Nevertheless, influencing others may serve your own personal interests without worrying about their effect on the organization. Why would you want to have that power? Simply because If you don’t have power you can’t stand up for what you believe is right and also because there’s some work advantages that you can benefit as tangible assets or intangible benefits like status or “pseudo-authority” toward your colleagues.[2]

Long-term consequences?

The concept of power and politics at work can be devastating for the employee since the strong competition between those who are looking for their own success or focusing on the organization itself. Hence, many aspect of the organisational behaviour can be affected as the team effectiveness, motivation and engagement. A lot of people would principally think about the negative effects of those “politics games” since it can be really difficult physically and mentally to support that kind of pressure.

When people don’t have the same political opinions in an organization it can be difficult for a manager to maintain the ambiance and the strength of the group. Manager has to deal with different opinions but also with the “politics games” between the employees, which can turn into manipulation, and backstabbing that will affect dramatically the relationship and the cohesiveness of those. These games of power can also affect the concentration and change the attitude of the worker who are focussing on making them shinning in front of their superiors. Obviously, the organizational politics and game of power will increase the level of stress among the employees. In addition, it’s hard to confess to other coworkers since more you are talking, more people can use this information against you. Finally, as the author, Ana Maria Rossi introduced her book “Improving Employee healt and well Begin” “healthy employees are happier and more productive at work and that in consequence stress at work decreases employee’s health and affects their well-being”[3].

What did the researches say?[4]

According to the book “Improving Employee Health and Well Being” by Ana Maria Rossi, who is part of the international Stress Management Association, they were proposing that political skills proceed as an interpersonal resource which gives to the workers a sense of control towards political work environment that attenuate the negative effect of perceives politics on employee well-being.

First of all, they found that people who are working in highly political context would experience, for example, high levels of inflammation, elevated resting blood pressure, and harmful changes to their metabolic system. Secondly, the researchers were suggesting that political behaviour represent an adaptive mechanism, which will reduce the negative effect of the politics by allowing the workers to exert a control on their work environment, and access to information that will let them understand the political context. Then possessing political skills will lead to attenuate the negative outcome of politics as stress and ambiguity.

The interesting part comes from multiple studies, which proved that political skills that are linked with socials stressors would reduce the effect of stressors on psychological and physiological indicators of well-being. First, a study (Perrewé, 2004) proved that political skills would neutralize the stress caused by the role conflict. It indicates a positive relation between perceived role stress and physical indicators of stress (elevated blood pressure) weaker for people who were politically skilled. Secondly, other studies revealed that the negative relationship between perceived politics and numerous affective indicators of well being as job satisfaction is weaker for those who are more politically skilled.

Conclusion

If you want to succeed, grow and feel welfare in your future career it would be crucial to understand and being able to “play the game” of power and politics at work.

References

Ana Maria Rossi(2013). “Improving Employee Health and Well Being”, IAP, p.15-16

http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/25/office-politics-psychology-leadership-managing-ccl.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_politics

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/negative-consequences-politics-workplace-20176.html

http://www.managementstudyguide.com/effect-of-politics.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xo4OhTKc1k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGdRyPN3IRk

 

 

[1] http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/25/office-politics-psychology-leadership-managing-ccl.html

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_politics

[3] Ana Maria Rossi(2013). “Improving Employee Health and Well Being”, IAP, p.15-16

[4] idem 3

The value of TeamWork

The case “Duke-Nus Graduate medical school: Educational transplant” shows that working in team can be more challenging but also more efficient as a method of learning. By this text I will try to clarify the concept of working in team, the importance of it in business and some thoughts about the differences in the working ways between NUS and my school back home.

What working in team really means?

The business dictionary describes it as “The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal”. Teamwork implies cooperation between people who know how to value the strengths of each other while minimizing their weaknesses. Trusting the others, believing in their capacities as a team, exploring new aspects, learning how to work with different kind of personalities, focus on establish common goals instead of individual ones, provide constructive opinion and communicate efficiently are substantial points to improve the cohesion of the group. It can take a lot of time and an important level of commitment to form a good team. As we saw in class there’s a model called “The Tuckman Model” that describe the evolution of a successful team in four steps. The first one is “Forming”; the teammates try to know about each other’s by acting politely and testing the limits of tolerance. The second one is “Storming”; people begins to argue and conflicts arise. That’s the moment where they learn how to work with different opinions. The third one is “Norming”; people work efficiently by accepting the difference between them. The final step is “Performing”; that’s the hardest one to achieve because it requires trust between the teammates, and this is the stage where the creative confrontation and innovation-solving problem arise. Effectively, this is a theoretical development and there are different models to describe it as the “The Cog Model”.

Other applications in our lives?

I want to introduce you a video called “What Marriage Teaches About Teamwork” that can be link with the concept of teamwork. As you can see the expectations to be successful in a marriage are quite the same as for a team at work. We can also make a link between the Tuckman Model and the different steps with the beginning of a relationship.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFiLl-KNTtk

Why teamwork is so important?

In business, teamwork is substantial considering that your value in the market depends on your capacities to be innovative and your proficiency and that depends on the capacity of your team to excel. That concept is a crucial part to be successful in your career if we considerate that the people in the team need to work well together but also work at their best to surpass themselves. Teamwork increases the responsibilities of each other as you don’t want to disappoint your teammates for who you have a lot of respect. Also that increases your motivation as you can accomplish and celebrate the achievement together step by step. As for my own opinion, I think that this manner of working brings people at their best performance and forces you to be a better person. That makes you learn how to work with different types of personalities and how to be open to different culture and manners of thinking.

Application?

As an exchange student, I can tell the difference that I saw between the learning methods from my University in Montreal to NUS. In fact, our method is more theoretical; the class is about presenting theory from the book that is going to be use for the final exam. At NUS, the courses focus on an Asian perspective, team discussion and analysis, cases and I notice that manner of learning brings more motivation and enthusiasm from the students. I think the case of Duke-Nus shows the benefits of mixing the two different method of learning from USA and Singapore. Maybe when the efficiency of this program will be proven, others school around the world will review their methods. Do you think that the students would improve more with a learning method that emphases on teamwork and group discussion like at NUS?

By Stéfanie Bernard

References:

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/teamwork.html#ixzz3SGYXk3b9 <

http://itll.colorado.edu/images/uploads/courses_workshops/geen1400/textbook/ch06teamwork_and_working_in_teams.pdf

http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2013/01/23/why-and-where-is-teamwork-important/