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Nowadays, skill and delicacy in dealing with conflict agendas and shifting power base is needed in the organization. In political organization, lasting relationships is important for continuation of greater political influence (Smith 2010). Effective politics isn't about winning at all costs but about maintaining relationships while achieving results. Although often portrayed negatively, organizational politics are not inherently bad. Instead, it's important to be aware of the potentially destructive aspects of organizational politics in order to minimize their negative effect. Of course, individuals within organizations can waste time overly engaging in political behavior. Research reported in HR Magazine found that managers waste 20% of their time managing politics. However, as Kotter (1985) wrote in Power and Influence, "Without political awareness and skill, we face the inevitable prospect of becoming immersed in bureaucratic infighting, parochial politics and destructive power struggles, which greatly retard organizational initiative, innovation, morale, and performance."
Organizations typically have limited resources that must be allocated in some way. Individuals and groups within the organization may disagree about how those resources should be allocated, so they may naturally seek to gain those resources for themselves or for their interest groups, which gives rise to organizational politics. Simply put, with organizational politics, individuals associate themselves with like-minded others in an effort to win the scarce resources. They'll engage in behavior typically seen in government organizations, such as bargaining, negotiating, alliance building, and resolving conflicting interests.
Politics are a part of organizational life, because organizations are made up of different interests that need to be aligned. In fact, 93% of managers surveyed reported that workplace politics exist in their organization, and 70% felt that in order to be successful, a person has to engage in politics. In the negative light, saying that someone is "political" generally stirs up images of back-room dealing, manipulation, or hidden agendas for personal gain (Gandz & Murray 1980). A person engaging in these types of political behaviors is said to be engaging in self-serving behavior that is not sanctioned by the organization (Harris et.al. 2005).
Examples of these self-serving behaviors include bypassing the chain of command to get approval for a special project, going through improper channels to obtain special favors, or lobbying high-level managers just before they make a promotion decision. These types of actions undermine fairness in the organization, because not everyone engages in politicking to meet their own objectives. Those who follow proper procedures often feel jealous and resentful because they perceive unfair distributions of the organization's resources, including rewards and recognition (Parker et.al. 1995).
Researchers have found that if employees think their organization is overly driven by politics, the employees are less committed to the organization. Have lower job satisfaction, perform worse on the job, have higher levels of job anxiety and have a higher incidence of depressed mood (Maslyn & Fedor 1998).
The negative side of organizational politics is more likely to flare up in times of organizational change or when there are difficult decisions to be made and a scarcity of resources that breeds competition among organizational groups. To minimize overly political behavior, company leaders can provide equal access to information, model collaborative behavior, and demonstrate that political maneuvering will not be rewarded or tolerated. Furthermore, leaders should encourage managers throughout the organization to provide high levels of feedback to employees about their performance. High levels of feedback reduce the perception of organizational politics and improve employee morale and work performance (Rosen et.al 2006). Remember that politics can be a healthy way to get things done within organizations.
The role of HR in the present scenario has undergone a sea change and its focus is on evolving such functional strategies which enable successful implementation of the major corporate strategies. In a way, HR and corporate strategies function in alignment. Today, HR works towards facilitating and improving the performance of the employees by building a conducive work environment and providing maximum opportunities to the employees for participating in organizational planning and decision making process. Today, all the major activities of HR are driven towards development of high performance leaders and fostering employee motivation. So, it can be interpreted that the role of HR has evolved from merely an appraiser to a facilitator and an enabler.
Linda (2003) describe performance management is the current buzzword and is the need in the current times of cut throat competition and the organizational battle for leadership. Performance management is a much broader and a complicated function of HR, as it encompasses activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication, feedback and coaching for improved performance, implementation of employee development programmes and rewarding achievements. The process of performance management starts with the joining of a new incumbent in a system and ends when an employee quits the organization. Performance management can be regarded as a systematic process by which the overall performance of an organization can be improved by improving the performance of individuals within a team framework. It is a means for promoting superior performance by communicating expectations, defining roles within a required competence framework and establishing achievable benchmarks.
According to Armstrong & Baron (2005), performance management is both a strategic and an integrated approach to delivering successful results in organizations by improving the performance and developing the capabilities of teams and individuals. The term performance management gained its popularity in early 1980's when total quality management programs received utmost importance for achievement of superior standards and quality performance. Tools such as job design, leadership development, training and reward system received an equal impetus along with the traditional performance appraisal process in the new comprehensive and a much wider framework. Performance management is an on-going communication process which is carried between the supervisors and the employees throughout the year. The process is very much cyclical and continuous in nature. A performance management system includes the following actions.
Developing clear job descriptions and employee performance plans which includes the key result areas (KRA') and performance indicators.
Selection of right set of people by implementing an appropriate selection process.
Negotiating requirements and performance standards for measuring the outcome and overall productivity against the predefined benchmarks.
Providing continuous coaching and feedback during the period of delivery of performance.
Identifying the training and development needs by measuring the outcomes achieved against the set standards and implementing effective development programs for improvement.
Holding quarterly performance development discussions and evaluating employee performance on the basis of performance plans.
Designing effective compensation and reward systems for recognizing those employees who excel in their jobs by achieving the set standards in accordance with the performance plans or rather exceed the performance benchmarks.
Providing promotional/career development support and guidance to the employees.
Performing exit interviews for understanding the cause of employee discontentment and thereafter exit from an organization.
A performance management process sets the platform for rewarding excellence by aligning individual employee accomplishments with the organization's mission and objectives and making the employee and the organization understand the importance of a specific job in realizing outcomes. By establishing clear performance expectations which includes results, actions and behaviours, it helps the employees in understanding what exactly is expected out of their jobs and setting of standards help in eliminating those jobs which are of no use any longer. Through regular feedback and coaching, it provides an advantage of diagnosing the problems at an early stage and taking corrective actions.
Systematic process of performance management
Performance management is the systematic process by which an agency involves its employees, as individuals and members of a group, in improving organizational effectiveness in the accomplishment of agency mission and goals.
Employee performance management includes:
planning work and setting expectations,
continually monitoring performance,
developing the capacity to perform,
periodically rating performance in a summary fashion, and
rewarding good performance.
In an effective organization, work is planned out in advance. Planning means setting performance expectations and goals for groups and individuals to channel their efforts toward achieving organizational objectives. Getting employees involved in the planning process will help them understand the goals of the organization, what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and how well it should be done.
The regulatory requirements for planning employees' performance include establishing the elements and standards of their performance appraisal plans. Performance elements and standards should be measurable, understandable, verifiable, equitable, and achievable. Through critical elements, employees are held accountable as individuals for work assignments or responsibilities. Employee performance plans should be flexible so that they can be adjusted for changing program objectives and work requirements. When used effectively, these plans can be beneficial working documents that are discussed often, and not merely paperwork that is filed in a drawer and seen only when ratings of record are required.
In an effective organization, assignments and projects are monitored continually. Monitoring well means consistently measuring performance and providing on-going feedback to employees and work groups on their progress toward reaching their goals.
Regulatory requirements for monitoring performance include conducting progress reviews with employees where their performance is compared against their elements and standards. On-going monitoring provides the opportunity to check how well employees are meeting predetermined standards and to make changes to unrealistic or problematic standards. And by monitoring continually, unacceptable performance can be identified at any time during the appraisal period and assistance provided to address such performance rather than wait until the end of the period when summary rating levels are assigned.
To conclude, performance management can be regarded as a proactive system of managing employee performance for driving the individuals and the organizations towards desired performance and results. It's about striking a harmonious alignment between individual and organizational objectives for accomplishment of excellence in performance.
In an effective organization, employee developmental needs are evaluated and addressed. Developing in this instance means increasing the capacity to perform through training, giving assignments that introduce new skills or higher levels of responsibility, improving work processes, or other methods. Providing employees with training and developmental opportunities encourages good performance, strengthens job-related skills and competencies, and helps employees keep up with changes in the workplace, such as the introduction of new technology.
Carrying out the processes of performance management provides an excellent opportunity to identify developmental needs. During planning and monitoring of work, deficiencies in performance become evident and can be addressed. Areas for improving good performance also stand out, and action can be taken to help successful employees improve even further.
From time to time, organizations find it useful to summarize employee performance. This can be helpful for looking at and comparing performance over time or among various employees. Organizations need to know who their best performers are.
Within the context of formal performance appraisal requirements, rating means evaluating employee or group performance against the elements and standards in an employee's performance plan and assigning a summary rating of record. The rating of record is assigned according to procedures included in the organization's appraisal program. It is based on work performed during an entire appraisal period. The rating of record has a bearing on various other personnel actions, such as granting within-grade pay increases and determining additional retention service credit in a reduction in force. Although group performance may have an impact on an employee's summary rating, a rating of record is assigned only to an individual, not to a group.
In an effective organization, rewards are used well. Rewarding means recognizing employees, individually and as members of groups, for their performance and acknowledging their contributions to the agency's mission. A basic principle of effective management is that all behaviour is controlled by its consequences. Those consequences can and should be both formal and informal and both positive and negative.
Good performance is recognized without waiting for nominations for formal awards to be solicited. Recognition is an on-going, natural part of day-to-day experience. A lot of the actions that reward good performance - like saying "Thank you" - don't require a specific regulatory authority. Nonetheless, awards regulations provide a broad range of forms that more formal rewards can take, such as cash, time off, and many nonmonetary items. The regulations also cover a variety of contributions that can be rewarded, from suggestions to group accomplishments.
In effective organizations, managers and employees have been practicing good performance management naturally all their lives, executing each key component process well. Goals are set and work is planned routinely. Progress toward those goals is measured and employees get feedback. High standards are set, but care is also taken to develop the skills needed to reach them. Formal and informal rewards are used to recognize the behaviour and results that accomplish the mission. All five component processes working together and supporting each other achieve natural, effective performance management.
The politics of performance appraisal
Most of the managers seem to miss the point about the purpose of performance appraisals. They judge the person and not the employees' job performance. The purpose of evaluations can be instructional or motivational; however, it must be based on factual events and not subjective feelings. While managers sometimes fine-tune appraisals, thinking they are helping their employees, they are really hurting them because their feedback is not based on accurate accounts of his or her job performance. Effective feedback instructs when it points out areas for improvement and teaches new behaviour. Good performance evaluation feedback is motivational when it provides a reward or promises a reward.
Armstrong & Baron (2005), research shows that performance evaluations do result in using feedback to improve performance. Effective performance evaluations should be given more than once a year. Companies that only have annual performance evaluations are not giving employee feedback in a timely manner. Employees should be given a voice and participation in the evaluation to give two way exchanges instead of the evaluator just telling them the results. The evaluation should end with praise for excellence, goals accomplished, and new goals for the future.
Contemporary companies implement a 360-degree approach in performance evaluations instead of the traditional top-down feedback program. Many firms are implementing a multisource program to provide a fairer, clear, and a more accurate performance evaluations program. Fleenor et.al (2008), the 360-degree approach is for employees to gather feedback from their peers, supervisors, and other managers that observe their day to day actions and score them on different metrics. This approach gathers different viewpoints. The argument with this is there is still not much research on this type of approach and it is not easy to implement in large organizations; however, more than ninety percent of fortune 1000 firms use some element of the 360-degree evaluation.
It is good to exercise good judgment when evaluating an employee. For example if the performance management firmware allows ranges, from five to six and the manager have observed and documented improvements in the employees' behaviour, then it would be permissible to give that employee a six on the performance appraisal. However, intentionally giving a bad score to an employee to send a negative message and not basing it on factual performance is unethical. On the other hand, fine-tuning a score because you feel the employee is improving or the manager wants to gain good favour is just as unethical. As leaders of an organization, there must be a focus on training managers in the area of performance evaluations. This is one of the main aspects of managing people: training staff, measuring performance, and providing feedback for improvement. Managers should be required to undergo certification for performance management firmware and should be evaluated during evaluations to ensure compliance.
Reduce the objective opinions and put into place a uniform performance management firmware that would provide a more objective approach in evaluating employees. I would allow exceptions where managers could provide documentation to give higher scores and comments in certain parts of the evaluations. It is important for firms to create better performance evaluation software that is user-friendly and reduces errors or mis-keyed information. There needs to be different metrics that the employee is judged on to identify employees' strong and weak areas. This software should allow users to make adjustments and add documentation or notes. For example, if the employee has dramatically improved his or her performance in the last quarter, the system should allow managers to take that into consideration and adjust the overall score of the performance and document the employees' improvement.
In conclusion, performance evaluations should be a tool managers can use to improve and run their business, not letting the performance evaluation run their business. Technology is the foundation of many firms that are successful today; however, technology shouldn't replace human experience, human relationships, good common sense and judgment. Performance evaluations should not be used solely as a record keeping tool or a means to distribute raises or promotions, but should be a tool to provide feedback to employees to improve their job performance. Successful organizations will strive to improve their performance evaluations and strive to find the best tool to measure their success in developing their employees.
Organizational politics can be a nasty business where people promote their own self-interests at the expense of company goals. It can also be secretive, and it can cause us to doubt the intentions of other people. Self-serving political actions can negatively influence our social groupings, cooperation, information sharing, and many other organizational functions, but because of its secretive nature, politics is also experienced subjectively.
Organizational politics defined
Organizational politics can be described as self-serving and manipulative behaviour of individuals and groups to promote their self-interests at the expense of others, and sometimes even organizational goals as well. Organizational politics in a company manifests itself through struggle for resources, personal conflicts, competition for power and leadership and tactical influence executed by individuals and groups to attain power, building personal stature, controlling access to information, not revealing real intents and building coalitions.
Interplay between leadership, authority, influence and Employees
How organizational politics is related to leadership can be better understood from the fact that organizational leadership occurs in the context of groups, where followers are influenced by the leader to ensure their commitment and voluntary involvement towards predetermined outcomes.
Political climate of an organization is impacted by a leader through treatment and use of authority under different settings which is clearly visible during the acts of decision making, setting agenda and interaction with others to mobilize support, inspire teams and individuals and recognize people. This interplay between leaders and their authority & influence over the followers set the tone for political climate in an organization.
Understanding of organizations' political systems - key to success
Understanding of organizations' political systems is absolutely essential for leadership to maneuver the company towards the goals. Internally grown leaders will have an advantage of knowledge of general political conditions prevailing in the company (different coalitions and centers of influence which can create buy in or create road blocks). Leaders from outside must put efforts to learn and understand the existing organizational politics through keen observation and focused interaction with different groups of people. Some of the indicators available for leaders to assess political climate is general job satisfaction levels, responsiveness to innovative ideas, and efficacy of decision making machinery and speed of implementation of decisions. Understanding is the key for leaders to exploit and smother organizational politics and also to enhance their own leadership credibility.
Leveraging political understanding for advantage
Leaders use political leverage available to them under different situations in order to promote the organizational interests.
Once the understanding of organizational politics is gained leaders may use political leverage available to them under different situations in order to promote the organizational interests. Leaders exploit organizational politics even to graduate to leadership positions as potential leaders with proper political orientation may:
Time the opportunity to highlight their contribution
Ensure top management support for difficult decisions or initiatives
Make use of suitable persons (experts, consultants, experienced persons with right image) to put their point across
Show respect for hierarchy in spite of the hurdles that it may create
Also political acumen of leaders is put to test when dealing with aspects such as change management and crisis management. In such situations leaders need to quickly identify the group which is going to support them and build a strong coalition with counter strategies backed by overwhelming facts and reasons before the war begins thereby preempting a war. Also crucial at these times is the choice of the persons made responsible to fight the war (change agents or crisis management team) and how critical support is made available to them through subtle changes in organization structure and resource allocation.
Promoting progressive culture not politics
Indisputably, leaders are source of power, influence and hence politics in an organization. Since people have needs and leaders have the authority to fulfill these needs, those who fulfill the needs hold potential power. Leaders can to a great extent smother political climate having negative impact on the people attitudes and organization outcomes by aligning individual needs with organizational goals, in such a way that fulfillment of collective goals results in automatic fulfillment of individual needs also. Leaders must realize that organizational politics is a function of culture of trust in the organization, which is built through values of fairness and transparency. Fair play, justice and transparency in procedures and processes is key in creating an environment where organizational politics take back seat and a progressive culture is established which gives prominence to organizational goals through voluntary involvement of individuals. In other words, leaders must inspire people into action by creating clarity and unity of purpose and build synergies through organizational values.
Leadership and actions to reduce negative aspects of organizational politics
As a leader there are many actions that can be taken to reduce the negative aspects of organizational politics. Some of these actions include:
Define core values such as cross functional teamwork, trust and honesty and most important modelling these values.
Engage in discussions that focus on data and facts.
Focus on the problem or issue and not the person.
Ask questions that encourage employees to seek to truly understand the other person or teams perspective.
Raise contentious issues for open discussion.
Reinforce the need and establishing the practice of getting people to work horizontally solving problems and resolving conflict without having to escalate to higher levels.
Build a culture where there is open communication across multiple levels.
Provide training on effective conflict resolutions and effective interpersonal communication.
Avoid engaging in personal attacks and gossip.
Negative level of organizational politics can be minimized if leaders put more effort and thought into how:
People are treated
Information is communication
People with the right values and behaviours are put into roles of leadership and influence
Decisions are taken and problems / conflicts solved.
If each person put in a little more effort to reduce negative organizational politics the combined effect will result in a more cohesive, focus and productive workforce adding value to business.
Employees Overcoming the Politics of Self Protection
Simply put, politics in an organisation can be better understood as self-protection. Employees learn very early on in their careers that in order to survive the corporate world they need to watch out for themselves.
Many of us play the political game, defending our performance and actions to colleagues and managers in different ways. How we do this often depends largely on our level of emotional maturity and how much experience we have.
The most common forms of self-defence that employees engage in can be summarised into three areas: Avoidance, Redirecting Responsibility and Defending their Turf (Schermerhorn et.al. 2010).
Avoidance is quite common in organisations where employees are forced to work to an established set of rules and regulations where no amount of deviance to those rules is permissible. One of the most common forms of self-protection and avoidance of blame is when an employee 'plays dumb'.
"I didn't know the deadline had been moved' 'I wasn't aware that I was speeding, I thought the speed limit in this zone was 50mph."
Another form of avoidance or self-protection commonly seen in the world of corporate politics is 'depersonalisation'. This can be seen when a senior manager never has to 'fire' long term employees, but talks about the organisation merely being downsized or delayed.
The third form of avoidance is 'stalling' on a project. This occurs when an employee does not agree with an organisation's ideology or position. Stalling involves slowing down the pace of work to expand the task so that the individual looks like they are working hard. With creative stalling, an individual can look like they are supporting an organisation's ideology and position, but they are actually delaying implementation of changes they consider undesirable.
Politically sensitive individuals will always protect themselves from accepting blame for any negative consequences of their actions. Again, a variety of well-worn techniques may be used for redirecting responsibility.
'Passing the buck' is a common method used by employees and managers (Christensen & Jack 1990). Many of us have experienced the ingenious methods in which individuals can redefine the task in such a way that it becomes someone else's responsibility. Another technique for redirecting responsibility is to blame ex-employees, employees that have been fired or outsiders.
3. Defending Turf
This is a time-honoured tradition in most organisations. It happens if an employee is vying for a promotion, or where a new employee tries to prove themselves to their manager. In an attempt to expand their levels of influence, they often encroach on the activities of other individuals or groups. So rather than co-operating, and supporting each other, individuals end up competing and organisational accomplishments may be compromised in the process.
It's important for managers to recognise these traits and mechanisms when managing their teams' performance, especially where employees have these forms of self-protection down to an art. If allowed to run rampant, politics can impact significantly on an organisation's performance levels. Implementing 360 degree feedback can be a strong driver for positive change in an organisation (Fleenor et.al, 2008).
Not everyone is created equal - of the same values, temperament, and personality and therefore to expect everyone to work harmoniously is quite impossible. We all are bound by bias and therefore Organizational politics is inevitable and to some extent, a person's performance in office is also dependent on how he/she handles organizational politics.
Organizational politics is not limited to how we get along with others but also entails how we behave and conduct our self so that we do not become a target for political performance issues.
Adhere to Code of Conduct
Every office has a code of conduct and it is imperative to ensure that all employees do not break it. Examples could range from taking advantage of travel and expense policies to more serious breaches, such as providing company confidential information.
In most cases, every company will have their employees sign a code of conduct as part of the employee contract. It will serve employee's well to be aware of what they have committed.
Focus on Work Attitude
Integrity, Reliability, Professionalism are three important virtues if we want to survive and succeed in the office environment. Managers are constantly evaluating and assessing their employees and where all else are equal, the person that goes the 'extra mile' when required and upholding the right work attitude will have a better performance appraisal and even chance of promotion.
Use Social Media Appropriately
Be mindful of the use of social media and communicating office related information using your facebook or twitter account. We may unwittingly be infringing office compliance as we are unknowingly providing information to customers or competitors regarding our company's business activities. The consequences can be serious, resulting in warning or termination in extreme cases (Loader & Mercea 2012).
Learn to Let Go!
At some point or other, we would have encountered colleagues who either knowingly or unknowingly said something to make us feel upset. If the matter is of insignificance, nor in any way threatens your work, the best way of handling is to let it go. Examples include comments or opinions versus actual facts. If the comment is work related and may potentially affect your performance appraisal, the best way is to raise this issue with your superior.
There is no point feeling bitter or even harbouring thoughts of revenge as these negative emotions will only affect your work performance.
Avoid Negative Influence
There are often people who are inherently negative or constantly 'complaining' of unfair treatment, bias-ness, etc. It would be wise to be around positive people instead as they generate positive energies and can sometimes provide a different perspective to our problems.
Positive or negative - politics happens. Mark Blitz (2010), the philosopher Plato said, "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." And this hold true today in the workplace: If you don't participate in the political game, you risk not having a say in what happens and allowing people with less experience, skill or knowledge to influence the decisions being made around you. Organizational politics are a fact of life.