Politics is a common occurrence in many organizations, but its damaging impact cannot be underestimated. Internal politics can be defined as using power and influence to achieve personal or group goals within an organization. It often involves manipulation, favoritism, and backstabbing, which can lead to a toxic work environment, low morale, and reduced productivity. Furthermore, internal politics can hinder an organization’s ability to innovate and compete in a fast-paced market. Talented employees are also likely to leave an organization with a political culture, leading to a loss of knowledge and experience.
Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, once said, “I weak companies politics win – in strong companies ideas do”. Organizations that are able to keep internal politics out tend to be more successful. They have higher levels of employee engagement, better communication, and a more collaborative culture. They can also move faster and make more informed decisions, which is critical in today’s fast-paced business environment.
Digital transformation programs can be particularly susceptible to internal politics, as they often involve significant changes to an organization’s structure, processes, and systems. According to research by McKinsey, “digital transformations are at risk of failure if not properly managed, and the effects of political resistance to change can be particularly damaging.” To avoid politics during a digital transformation program, organizations need to take proactive steps to manage the process effectively.
Here are ten strategies and actions that organizations can consider to avoid or stop internal politics within their organization:
- Set clear expectations: Clearly define what behavior is acceptable and what is not. Make it known that political behaviors will not be tolerated.
- Lead by example: Leaders must model the behavior they want to see in their employees. They should refrain from engaging in political behaviors themselves.
- Encourage open communication: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.
- Address conflicts promptly: When conflicts arise, make sure to deal with them immediately before they escalate.
- Create a shared vision: Develop a common purpose and shared values for the organization and ensure employees understand and support them.
- Recognize and reward positive behavior: Reinforce positive behavior by recognizing and rewarding it.
- Provide training: Offer training on communication, conflict resolution, and team building.
- Hire for cultural fit: During the hiring process, evaluate candidates based on their fit with the organization’s culture.
- Foster trust: Build trust among employees by being transparent and honest.
- Hold everyone accountable: Make it clear that everyone is responsible for maintaining a politics-free environment.
Research by the Harvard Business Review also suggests that it is important to involve employees in the digital transformation process. “Leaders should actively engage with employees and involve them in the planning and implementation of the digital transformation program. By doing so, they can help to create a sense of ownership and reduce resistance to change.”
In summary, it’s important to remember that leaders and employees are responsible for working in a politics-free environment. They also must be willing to set aside personal interests and work collaboratively toward the organization’s goals. By following the above-listed strategies and actions, organizations can help to create a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation within their organization. By doing so, they can help to create a more positive work environment and achieve greater success in the long run.