Politics affect employee loyalty

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An organisation usually consist of four frames, a good company at the structure frame usually will provide clear goals, specific role, policy, procedure, and hierarchies. The problem will arise if the structure does not fit to the situation.

And human resource frame should manage feeling, skill, and limitation of each tenant individual. It is an extended from the family which like most of the people spend most of their time in the office.

Due to most of the time we spend in the office to interact with other people that have different norms & value. It usually creates conflict. Like in a jungle or arenas contest. Politic Frame should manage conflict and coercion. Have negotiation and compromise different people's view and objective.

After everyone become an actors in the organisation, each have their role and script to play with. The symbolic is the cultures based on rituals, ceremonies, stories, heroes, myths. Those create a pattern which is unique and build by all actors within the organisation.

The personal case provided 2 examples happened within the same organisation which a young man has experienced in his last employment. The case provides some examples on how leadership behave under the four frames and how this is going to affect employees and their loyalty about their leadership and company culture.

My father told me that "If everyone can be given a second chance. This world will have no looser" we should always be responsible to our decisions. The four frames provide a different prospective view when you apply using a different frame. Each frame usually provides some advantage but also some blind spot.

The structure can ignores whatever which is outside its jurisdiction, such like policies and procedure, rules, hierarchy. As well as other frames influence.

Human Resources can be a view of human nature by individual. But not all are looking for growth and collaboration. Different people have different needs and agenda.

Politics usually create cynicism and mistrust for most of the people. They usually think it is amoral, tricky, and nonchalant for good thing that people usually trying to do.

Symbolic are usually like a TV series, regardless how attractive it is and how enjoyable you are, you will likely think it is unreal.

After all, leader who only focuses on single frame is likely to fail. They are unlikely let their employee to draw the loyalty and faith to serve them as well as the company. Human capital today are highly mobile, they will move one they found the cheese they are chasing is no longer the same or is unlikely to get more on what they wants. Cheese is every ways out there, today no one employee will stay in the same company unless company continue provide distinctive advantage using four frames to retain employee.


I have been thinking of what topic to put when I received this assignment question, as it is quite hard to present a personal case in related to Boleman & Deal's four-Frames. Now even have to find a good personal case which allowed critically assess in the four frames. I spend 2 nights just to think what subject I should put here.

The lecturer did share a video of "who move my cheeses" (Johnson, 1998) during the class, which refreshed my memory about this book. I had read a partial of this book in a bookstore when at 10 years ago, that was the time I just started by work career. I do not have any idea what to do, what to plan for, who should I become during that time but just attached to a job to gain my experience. However, Sniff and Scurry these 2 mice characters did challenge my thinking and changed my entire life. Because they teach me to be always equipped with running shoes and move ahead when the cheeses has gone (Johnson, 1998).

As a result, I changed few jobs in my work career life. Someone even who told me that a person who has no loyalty to their job will not be successes. They are told me we should try to stick to a company as long as we can to develop a good profile and working experience.

However, I did not totally agree with that statement. It is good to have a life long career, but more importantly, I feel the loyalty should be representing how much commitment you have put in to your job when you are on that duty. By maximise the company's profitability and lowest the cost required for a project/works. And I did, in all my previous career jobs. I contributed them with justifiable results when I was in the position. So when decided to move on to the maze to find another cheeses station. I have no regret.

I used to have a question to myself "is there a job offering everything you want and let you have no reason to move on?" Well, I have no answer on it and I am still searching this "job" until today. But I understand that to continue retain an employee within an organisation, the company must have below criteria based on Bolman & Deal:

The company must have a good organisation structure. Provide clear goals, specific role, policy, procedure, and hierarchies. The problem will arise if the structure does not fit to the situation.

The company must have a good Human-Resource system in place. To manage feeling, skill, and limitation of each tenant individual.

The company must have minimum politic to avoid internal conflict. To manage conflict and coercion. Have negotiation and compromise.

The company must have a good Symbolic to motivate employee using cultures on rituals, ceremonies, stories, heroes, myths.

But I have noted that most of the company I joined are losing some pieces from above criteria. From a local Small Medium Enterprise (SME) company to a Multi National Corporation (MNC).

What I am going to discuss here is the important of the four flames, which anyone functioning correctly, company will faces challenge to retain talent within the organisation. As smart employee always smell and measure the cheese from time to time. And they leave if they are able to find a bigger cheese station, or current cheese is no longer attracting them.

This story is based on my own case. But to keep the story in a right length and fit the assignment criteria, I will only present my story in a very recognised MNC company - Hewlett Packard for what I have experienced on the four frames there.

How Organisation Structure, Human Resources, Politic and Symbolic affect employee's loyalty.

My Personal Case

I worked in Hewlett Packard Malaysia for few years in a various departments. So I am quite familiar the environment and people there. I would like to say HP is a very good company indeed. I would like to be there until retired if possible. However, my loyalty has being challenged that time in 3 major cases which I will briefly describe as followed. All character names are faked (To be fair to those individual) but based on true situation.

My Hewlett Packard Malaysia's Life Started.

After 3 jobs in my early career life as an IT executive, System Engineer/Project Leader & Technical Consultant, I have started my career as a senior position in Hewlett Packard as a Global Tier 3 support, which is a project to develop first pioneer level 3 supports team in HP Malaysia. To establish the deep level support and takeover from current support team which is based in Geneva, there are 9 of us spilt into 2 teams and report to same team lead (let's called him as Ivan).

Ivan is a person who was just promoted from an internal IT support in HP Malaysia for his past 10 years, due to the seniority and his relationship with the project manager. However, he is people that do not have a strong technical competency, and low in EQ. He likes to do micro management and can mistreat his staff in a public area. As he do not trust people and not respect the structure. He can give extinction lesson to a level 3 member at a public area and with all juniors around. He do not like his team member to group together, he do not allow Level 3 peer to lunch together. No conversation over the working hour and trying to jeopardise the relationship between team members. As a result, 7 out of 9 employees resigned or request to transfer within 3 months, some even leave the company without getting another job. Which the following 2 are typical cases:

One local employee file a long complaint letter to senior management before he tender his resignation. We all know before he sends out the complaint, and we hope this could help make some changes to the working environment. However, this disappointed for the actions that has been carried out by company. The company HR has interviewed all of the team members end up with 2 replies to us.

HR mentioned that as we are the contract staff. We are not protected by their HR policy, they opt to stand at HP employee's side, should there any disagreement or discrepancy. We are advised to opt to take it or leave it.

The person who filed the complaint request to leave immediately to cover the issue. As this is a high profile project within the company, the project manager does not wish higher management to see this as a failure.

Another case, which an employee from India in our team has been mistreated by Ivan caused him with a serious psychology stress. It ends up that employee decided to quit in front of him and buy air ticket back to his country. This story was covered up and we are told that person suffered in illness and unable to works anymore.

Both Ivan and HR manager has discovered by senior management due to their managing style and compliant by from Geneva team. The HR manager has leaved the company and Ivan has been removed from the team lead position. Today, HP Malaysia level 3 has growth to more than 100 team members, one of the manager is the last survivor from our revolt.

We have achieved a successful transition model with all the hard work from the team. Allowed this to be replicated to the size they have today. Till today, few of us always meeting together and when talking about our story in that HP pioneer team, it has become a story for our future reference.

My Second Role In Hewlett Packard.

I have opted to transfer to another department after my 1st year service in this team. I then joined to problem management team, I work very well with under new director's direction. This allowed me receive 3 time of merit increment with 2 promotions over 4 years. My supervisor gives me the confident to draw my commitment for contribution.

However, becoming a blue eyes boy lead more problems to me, as there are many other more senior managers who has been working there for many years. They tried to group up and give many pressures for my work executions.

Getting worst is one of my staff - Chris was poisoned and go against most of my decision, did not respect hierarchy. I knew this will have to be controlled otherwise can lead to team performance breakdown. L ike Sir Ernest Shackleton, I know a painful decision has to be made if I can't stop a person to continue corrupt the team. (Morrell & Capparell, 2001). I was fortunate enough that I am able to control the situation after few open heart dialogs with Chris. It works when you put your heart and rationally analyse the issue, even I know he can't be as trusted as before. He left after 3 years worked under me and now I am happy that he found better career and still maintaining the contact with me.

Since I am able to overcome all above challenges in this company, it seem like I should be able to stay here until my retirement. But cheese will change and you need to keep measure it (Johnson, 1998), a new department head has been appointed after the director has been promoted. The new head of department named Jimmy is very eager to achieve result, and request each team to do extra hours every day. He likes to know everything with his fingertips always visit low lever staff to get status instead of his middle manager. Make all his middle managers looks bad. As a result, most of the team members are under stress physically and psychologically. The chesses smell has now changed.

I spoke to him personally in one occasional evening left only 2 of us in the office, he told me according to Jack & Suzy Welch that a successful manager should be effective no matter the cost spend behind. One of the talent trait for execute is very simply, get things done. (2007, p. 47). I did not challenge him, instead I quit the company after few months later. Because I believe he could be right but does not mean I am wrong. A success by scarifying other people is not a pride for me,

How Structure Affect Employee's Loyalty

I view of my personal case. We can see how important the structure to a company, a team or individual. Organizations exist is because they are here to achieve established goals and objectives. And it is through how to organize and structure groups and teams to get results (Bolman & Deal, 2003; Enlow, 2003). However, an ineffective leader likes Ivan do not know how to organise group to get result due to worrying the team go against him when team relationship is established.

Both Ivan and Jimmy should be focusing on task, facts, and logic, rather than on personality and emotions, but they work differently. Especially Jimmy always lessoned me and he told me it is the teaching he learned from his MBA or Jack Welch's books, I think he has learned something but applied in an inappropriate way. For Ivan, I feel he is trying to gain result but without a right competency to lead the team and set structure. He don't even how to manage the environment within 2 regions and has to relayed on his team member, and when he lose his team members, he is gone eventually like what I have mentioned in the case.

If an organisation structure cannot deliver efficiency. It has to be reviewed. As the structure followed strategy. If company do not have a strategy or clear vision or mission, they will not know what structure fit them the best. Everything is trial and error. If an employee worked under this kind of structure, no matter how efficient and effective the person are. This person will not last long because:

If he fails to set himself a good direction, his efforts is wasted most of the time.

The team can not establish an efficient communication

The Structure and Lines of authority is not clearly defined

It is very danger if the organisation structure cannot deliver good communication. Because anything not communicated openly within the company, the employees loose the trust and linkage. Imagine how Ivan managed his team, team members are not allowed to share information among the team freely. Lunch together must have his prior approval. I wonder how an individual will appreciate this type of structure like.

How Human Resources Affect Employee's Loyalty

No question asked, human resources is always appear to be the most easiest to affect employee's loyalty. As this is the most fundamental frame for an employee stay, imagine a work without a salary for survive, basic safety benefits and good HR policy. I guess most of the peoples will leave the job unless there are some special reason behind like it is their family owned business.

What most people getting from HP and compared to Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. (Samson & Draft, 2009). We can see HP has provided a good Physiological need and Safety (in some extend) to most of the employees. However, many people still cannot achieve the Belongings need, Esteem and Self Actualisation need. And it is all caused by people. Which is when a wrong leadership appointed by wrong decision.

So when conflict arise, most employees will either quit, become inefficient, resist, get allies, or have negative influence to other people. (Bolman & Deal, 2008)

A company practise well in this frame should look after people's skills and commitment. Like HP, the company is always trying to stimulating and rewarding people because If company concerns itself with its people's welfare then it will succeed (Bolman & Deal, 2008; Enlow, 2003).

In the case with Ivan the unfair HR treatment has broken all of our heart that time. As all evident are so obvious such a problematic manager should be warned or to be taken with disciplinary action. However, the human resource manager and project manager decided to cover up the entire incident. Result a contract staff has been forced to leave. Instead should be protected. One of staff said that he would never work in this company anymore. This impact is huge and unrecoverable.

What happened when Jimmy praying success by exploiting people, pressing them and put them in fear. The turnover that year is highest over the last decade. Many employees resigned and complaint to human resources by putting the reason during the exit interview. However, human resources are unable to take any actions which lead more employees to resign. As they have lost their faith to HR and they think it will not happen anymore. The issue still continue until today.

Some people might think what is to big deal with the unreason boss if the company pay you well. I could only say based on Maslow's need theory, different people has different needs at different stage. However they must fulfil their current level before they can move further. (Samson & Daft, 2009).

Maybe my intension was other thing than money that time. There are this type of people exist. Otherwise, the greatest explorer for Atlantic Sir Ernest H. Shackleton, would not attract so many talent by putting now this advertisement:"MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY.SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD. LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS. CONSTANT DANGER. SAFE RETURN, DOUBTFUL. HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS." Imagine this ad attracted 5,000 applicants (including three women) which are so amazed that why so many people willing to risk their life with unpredicted pay? (Morrell & Capparell, 2001). Money are important for me, but not at the level to trade my value.

How Politic Affect Employee's Loyalty

This will be a tough topic to explain. Sometime I even have no answer for who is right and who is wrong. It seem like to can out talk are usually to be the winner and gain the Power.

In the case with Ivan, he tried to use coercive control and make sure people fear him and obey his order. However, thing dose not worked out and resulted in to a revolt. He do not know what to do but and upper hand has saved him as they have similar purpose behind, which is to avoid themselves looked bad in senior management eyes. If the project failed, the Europe side will likely not to transfer the lever 3 service to Kuala Lumpur hub. So to say, those poor protesters are suppressed by a few parties due to their common intention.

I would say Jimmy is much higher skill as a politic player compare to Ivan. He knows how to make thing in control, make coalitions and eliminate potential voice before they rise up. And play around with the creative survey static to management to make them believe the company are improving even though they know most of the employees are not in a pleasure.

What I have learned that time is someone always there to move the cheese or blocking you to the way to get your cheese (Johnson, 1998). In that case, better get through or get out. An interview before the day the Benazir Bhutto was the day the Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, she was asked if she like power, she responded that "Power has made me suffer too much. In reality I'm ambivalent about it. It interested me because it makes it possible to change things. But it's left me with a bitter taste." (Lagarde, 2008, p13). So it is worth to get thing done in a painful way? For me, I would rather think twice if there is a better option.

How Symbolic Affect Employee's Loyalty

In my Hewlett Packard time, the CEO was Carly Fiorina. We always like to listen to her speech when there is an internal broadcast. As she has the influence and it is always a very cheerful to us and make us feel proud to work in HP. After all, I feel she is playing a good symbolic role. And we think HP has made a questionable decision for changing the CEO. This further reduced our faith to serve in the company even it has nothing much impact to our local operation.

As many people say the meaning, belief, and faith are central to symbolism. What we are getting from HP that time has really made some of us to lose our belief. Imagine one of my ex-colleague after he left HP. He dares not to simply change job as he do not wish to meet a person like Ivan anymore. I have been trying to encourage him like what HAW trying to do for HEM, he already thinks that "monster is out there, it is better to stay here with the chesses" (Johnson, 1998). I always left my handwriting to him and hope one day he could found those writing and follow my footsteps. For whatever reason, spoiling employee' belief is what a manager should never attempt.

The Power Of Reframing

The power of 4 frames helps me to analyse each complex situation at different perspective view. Each time when I applied different frame, thing might looks differently. Generally a successful company should take care of each frame and development then at the equal weight-age.

So which frame is most difficult to be developed and realigned? In my point of view, the politic always the number 1 issue at the organisation. It does not matter the size of the company or the natural of the business. Politic exist when there are 3 or more people group together. Expert says as a manager should be "constructive" politicians. (Bolman & Deal, 2008) And the problem is no one know where is the line should be draw, there are too many managers think they are right to use "Stick" approach but forgotten where is the "Carrot". I suggest the best way to deal with politic is to avoid the politic.

Followed by the Symbolic, it is hard to develop and realign without a right leadership. And it cost a lot of things. They are used to form company culture, myths, rituals, ceremonies, and stories. Without strategically planning and identify the leader will lead company go to sunset.

The Structure frame considerable difficult to be developed and realigned. Stable environments are should have right organisation hierarchies and rule. As long as the company process a right leadership, strategy and vision. Less politic, it is only a matter of time to realign to a right structure.

Human Resource is consider easier to be develop or realigned frame compared to the rest. However, it is easier to be ignored. A right structure, symbolic and politic is all depend to people. Without setting right of this frame also give challenge to the rest of frame. Therefore it is important to continue invest on human capital and empowering the people (Bolman & Deal, 2008).

If I Could Have A Second Change

My father used to tell me when I was young that "if everyone can be given a second chance. This world will have no looser". So this quote has become my principal, and I always responsible to owns decision. And I will move forward once I have decided, as long as it does not hurt anyone or intentionally to hurt someone.

What I like to talk about here is if I could have relived in above case. What would I do then? Can I make thing better? I would like to make a statement here. I think I have already gone through the good outcome even I know it is not perfect. However, if this really happened to me, they must be something can be done differently.

I think I will in redo something in the following view:

Structure frame: I think I should rationality prevails over pressure that time given my Ivan and Jimmy, as we are all here to achieve objective and goals. There is really nothing personal to complaint about. Sometime people do thing in different way and might not ethical enough. If we can. Forgive them so you can free your soul and move ahead (Gaultiere, 2002).

Human Resource frame: Many people killed to protect themselves. It is self defence behaviour. In the organisation, group are exist to solve problem, so maybe last time we should listen more, identify our commonness, have some experiment, and doubt our infallibility. Things might change in to different result. Human Resource frame can hold on to romanticized view of human nature. Not everyone is looking for growth and collaboration (Bolman & Deal, 2008).

Political frame: I think if Ivan and Jimmy could clarify their purpose during their actions and allow more open or freely dialog between themselves with team members or subordinates. Maybe they would become a successful manager today. They should provide direction while tending to needs of each person. Be candid with all people (Welch, 2007), so to built support from people.

Like what Jack & Suzy Welch said: "The best thing that can happen to you as a boss is hiring a person who is…in some way more talented than you are. You've got a team member whose talent will very likely improve everyone's performance and reputation. Including yours." (2007, p. 89). Most bosses are so afraid to have smart people under them. And they make them become unhappy. If that really happen, let unhappy employee leave in good term. You will never know who they will become someday later.

Symbolic Frame: As life is ambiguous and depend how people interpret it. When people can find their Meaning, belief, and faith. It is symbolic (Bolman & Deal, 2008; Enlow, 2003). Hewlett Packard used to play well in symbolic frame in their senior leadership, but if they could influence the same leadership to their local middle management, they will have further success. Last time I should continue change department until I could seek the leader for my soul to follow. It is not easy, as even good leader can go.


It is very obvious that each of the four frames will affect employee's loyalty. If they are not well arranged and aligned. As a leader focus only single frame will not success (Bolman & Deal 2008). A company who want to gain successful human capital must make sure all four flame are well organised and placed.

If you ask me it is worth to keep changing role or job without negotiation and seek for peace agreement and able to stay long at the same company. I think it is worth to do it because:

It gives you more exposure and keeps learning new things.

It allowed you to growth faster in term of personality and wages.

If a company wants your talent and competency. They will not so keen about your education and employment background.

Be result oriented - I rather be a person can contribute every companies I worked for. Rather than working in a company for many years but no contribution.

Do not lose your value and principal. If you dose, you become nobody.

After all, I feel it is not that bad to be like Sniff and Scurry, sense the environment changed and get moving toward new chesses. But I even respect Haw which can learn from mistakes and improve himself (Johnson, 1998). I might have made some mistake or not done well enough in my personal case, however, I think this is a lifelong process for me to learn about myself especially now with so many tools learned from my MBA study. This world is not for the strongest to survive or the smartest. But is actually the one most responsive and adaptive to the changes. (Darwin, 1861)

So, get through your adventure, appreciate it and always enjoy your new cheese (Johnson, 1998). Be happy on your way on the journey.