Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dealing With Office Politics

Office politics: They are a powerful thing in every office and, whether they like it or not, nonprofit managers have to deal with them.

In their book "Make Talent Your Business," Wendy Axelrod and Jeannie Coyle say managers must first acknowledge the existence of organizational politics.  You can't tackle a problem, after all, if you don't believe it exists.  Further, Axelrod and Coyle encourage leaders to show their employees how to navigate the twisted webs of office politics.  They suggest the following tips:
  • Clarify and adjust assumptions about organization politics. Yes, people often use political skills for unprincipled self-serving. Employees who can read the dynamics, however, can create and sell effective solutions.
  • Help map the bumpy political terrain. Make sure employees get a full view of the landscape, so they know where danger points occur.
  • Coach employees to build a portfolio of politically smart approaches. Set a strategy, influence others and adapt familiar skills to political solutions.
  • Prepare for and sometimes rehearse the handling of complex situations. Employees will do better after having had the opportunity to fine-tune messages, practice handling questions, listen to opposing views, think through their reactions and adapt an appropriate personal presence.

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