Dealing With Organisational Politics

The Political Zoo

Baxter Thompson Ltd, Jon Baxter

By Dr. Robina Chatham

In the workplace organizational politics are a fact of life. Organizations, being made up of people, are essentially political institutions. All business professionals need to be adept at dealing with political situations, but some are better at it than others.

As a a Business Relationship Manager (BRM) political acumen is an imperative skill: since you do not have position power to fall back on other people have to want to do business with you! Success in this arena is dependant on the following two capabilities:

1. Acting from an informed and knowledgeable position that demonstrates:

  • An understanding of the decision-making processes within your organization
  • An awareness of both the overt and covert agendas of the key decision makers
  • An innate understanding of who has the power within the organization and what gives one power
  • A willingness to go above that extra mile to help others
  • An understanding of the style and culture of your organization.

2. Acting with integrity as defined by the following principles:

  • Avoiding playing psychological games with people
  • Being authentic and accepting self and others for what they are – human beings who all have their associated strengths, weaknesses and imperfections
  • Seeking to find win-win strategies in difficult/conflicting situations.

The model below utilizes these two dimensions.  Each quadrant is illustrated with an animal analogy to create a political zoo.  The innocent sheep acts with integrity but hasn’t a clue about what is going on in the organizational sense.  The clever fox knows exactly what is going on but uses this knowledge to exploit the weaknesses of others.  The inept baboon neither acts with integrity nor knows what is going on. The wise dolphin possesses both understanding and integrity and hence represents the icon of political success.

Remember the key is in the title B ‘Relationship’ M, as a BRM relationships are the foundations to everything you do, they are the gateway to being heard and respected.  Never forget that ‘being right’ is not enough!

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