Cultural Shaping of an Organization’s Business Politics Landscape
All organizations are political to some degree with their culture defining the predominant, acceptable political practices – the organization’s political landscape. This unique landscape represents where political activity takes place and the sources of power exerted, shaped by established activity controls and triggers respectively.
Landscape Elements Promoting Business Politics
Leadership practices and organizational constructs enable and, in extreme cases, promote a politically charged workplace environment. Collectively, they drive the degree to which an organization behaves politically. As these practices and constructs are readily observable; the logical question is: Which of these practices and constructs exists within your organization?
An organization’s senior leaders set the tone for acceptable behavior as well as establishing the organization’s foundational constructs. Both have a direct and profound impact on organizational culture and the degree to which politics can be practiced.
Organizational design – structural and hierarchical relationships, decision-making authority, budget control, and information flow and control – establishes a framework preventing or enabling political activity.
Policies and Procedures
Policies and procedures capture and translate senior leadership’s goals and values into the decisions and actions of the workforce. These directives define what the organization does, who does it, and how it is done; providing barriers to or tools for the organization’s business politicians.
Performance metrics themselves drive individual behaviors. However, they become an incredibly powerful tool for the business politician when not assigned to those directly impacting reflected performance or when an outsider’s (not within the metrics owner’s influence) work output heavily influences successful performance.
Rewards and disciplinary programs are natural tools for business politicians in management roles; directly reflecting two types of personal power. That said, rewards programs can often be used by individuals at lower stations to influence organizational decisions and personnel behaviors.