A Google Search of Office Politics turns up 115M responses, and none of us is surprised. It is rampant, and many companies just throw up their hands. I can go to most companies across Asia, Europe, and North America and find too much politics.
Being Six Sigma Certified, I see that politics is a variance in Six Sigma and a non value added activity in Lean thinking.
Most companies would have to list 10% or more annually for added costs due to their office politics. The potential savings on facing this issue are tremendous. An aside is Does More People Mean More Problems?
Some proactive companies have training on teamwork. I would love to see who feels this has been effective for any of them.
I know the path that has worked for me in companies I have managed and in companies I have supported.
Let’s Massively Reduce Office Politics
1. Plan to replace the most talented politicians with straight talkers. Do it excellently. Ensure from start to finish that you have the thinking and resources to identify people who speak loudest with their positive actions and words. Find people who are teachable and transparent. People like this lower politics. This is our focus as a company. It is most critical in your top leadership.
2. Once you have solidified the question of who, then do Overcoming Five Dysfunctions of a Team Facilitation. Even good teams can benefit from doing this kind of facilitation, and our company has a license to provide this due to our deep interest in making great teams. I have seen horrible teams with the right people who we transform in two days. I have further seen teams that many recoginize as good teams discover they were just cooperating individuals and not really a team at all. This is a really impressive facilitation that has long lasting results unlike all other team work training I have seen and attended.
Facilitation is Really Better Than Training
If you have someone other than us do the training, then research to find out if they can do it well. They must consistently get participants to speak for at least 85% of the time while the facilitators stay under 15%. That is an oft forgotten key to high impact facilitation. Having a good program is also needed, and this one is clearly top notch. We rarely do this for companies as somehow companies do not want to reach that high? It is the only training program that we offer outside of our total focus on recruiting. If you do such facilitation with political teams, it is just training the politicians to be more effective.
3. Coaching internally at all times and getting external coaches is also valuable. Coaching means you are getting the other person to speak and not preaching. Mentoring is another model and sometimes useful in reducing office politics as is coaching done well. Of course, coaching or mentoring a committed politician may only teach him or her how to better trick you.
We focus on Recruiting as see it has a bigger impact than other avenues. Of course, it must be done right. See also, Get Better Teamwork in My China Business.