Company Politics: The Last Campaign
Comprehensive coaching in an organization means that all its former company politics are put to bed. Employees can readily see and viscerally feel when politics dominate a company's decision-making process. Indeed, when politics rule in the office, people feel a sense of powerlessness in performing their jobs in the present, with a corresponding sense of hopelessness as far as their futures are concerned. They feel that no matter what they do on the job, company politics will eclipse even their best efforts.
So, yes, we've got another vital coaching job for you. And that's removing any overt politics from the office, which is your little part of the company — your domain and responsibility. When you work at eliminating this blight, you're handing more power over to your employees. You're raising their levels of satisfaction vis-à-vis their job roles and within the company at large, because the workplace is now unfettered with relationships and decision making clouded by company politics. Just what is meant by company politics? Here are some examples.
The Blame Game
Deleterious company politics often spawn the blame game, in which the buck never seems to stop on any boss's desk and employees shoulder the lion's share of the blame for what goes wrong. As a coach, you must put an end to the blame game if it exists. Replace the blame with accountability and personal responsibility.
That is, put responsibility for doing a job in the forefront of any job assignment or project. Employees then know precisely what they are responsible for accomplishing. They have performance plans to guide them and have settled on goals to strive for. The blame game plays no part in a workplace where there is complete and defined accountability.
Never play the blame game in your office. Make responsibility and accountability the rule, for both you and your employees, and the blame game will become yesterday's news. Work with individual performance plans and goals, and hold each individual strictly answerable for his or her results on the job.
The Distinctive Relationship
Another area of office politics revolves around what can be called the “distinctive relationship.” Not only the obvious ones between managers and employees, but relationships between and among employees themselves that exclude others. And we're not talking about exclusion in a personal sense, but in a business sense, where employees do not sufficiently share information or work loads as a team (both of which are so essential these days in getting a job done right).
You've got to be eternally vigilant that these types of distinctive relationships don't take root and cause disharmony and disarray in your office environs. You must foster relationships that you know from experience promote team rapport and competent, concerted efforts. In your office, there should be no secrets.
The Aura of Superiority
Company politics sometimes permit an aura of superiority to prevail in the office. An office caste system, if you will. Yes, you're going to have high-flying employees, the big achievers, whom you will rely on and groom for advancement. That's a highly desirable scenario. But you must be ever mindful not to tolerate your team splitting apart into factions based on skill levels or for any other reasons.
Never allow an aura of superiority to hover over your office like a dark cloud about to rain down on it. Keep your team from splintering apart based on skill levels and other factors. Foster an aura of generosity instead, encouraging the sharing of knowledge and teaching of skills.
You're responsible for taking any aura of superiority and turning it on its head into an aura of generosity. Those in your employ with more advanced or sharper skills should be encouraged to impart their knowledge and skills to their coworkers (mini-mentoring) — without displaying an attitude of superiority or condescension. No employee appreciates feeling like a grade-schooler on the job, patronized and inferior. A team that produces results must share in so many critical ways, and every member of the team should be made to feel like an important part of the group effort.
When company politics reign supreme, even delegation of authority suffers, and sometimes gets twisted like a pretzel. Undue delegation, also called passing the buck, is in reality no delegation at all. It's an abrogation of somebody's responsibility.
You know by now that coaches regularly delegate important assignments and jobs to their employees. As a coach, you are morally obliged to delegate, and as often as you possibly can, or you're not a coach. But you base your delegation of important job responsibilities on what you have to work with in talent and skills. Don't ever pass the buck and call it delegation. That is, don't get your employees to do your job for you in any way, shape, or form. And don't allow members of your staff to get their coworkers to do their jobs for them in any way, shape, or form, either.
Coaches delegate, then delegate some more. It's all part of showing confidence in their employees and offering them added responsibilities and more challenges. But it's not delegation at all if it amounts to passing the buck. When you delegate, you delegate based on merit and ability to do the assigned work.
The Exclusive Clique
The last of the company politics issues we'll tackle is the notorious “exclusive clique,” which is in some ways an extension of distinctive relationships in that it deals with interoffice alliances. The difference is, the exclusive clique sets the rules on how things get done — everything from soup to nuts. This is the way it's done, period, end of story! And nobody is going to come along and tell them otherwise.
In companies that don't practice coaching in management, it's not unusual for new managers, let alone employees on lower levels, to run headfirst into exclusive cliques and be rejected as unworthy of admission. Managers with new ideas or methods are rebuffed; employees with any initiative are shunned. You get the picture. Your job as a coach is to implode any exclusive cliques if they are around, and replace them with teams of achievers. Also, you must be circumspect in not allowing any of these cliques to spring to life and grow on your watch.
Sometimes these cliques can sprout up without you ever realizing it. You're only human. When you're working with the same people day in and day out, a certain comfort develops that can lull you into an unsuspecting repose, and yes — a rigid way of doing things. You're in trouble when your way of doing things excludes others from contributing their ingenuity and talents.
However, if your way of doing things is coaching in an enduring learning environment, you are, in effect, overseeing a team of self-starters, and that's what you want to be doing as a coach. If you want to get the best possible results in overall employee satisfaction and performance results, don't ever find yourself hunkered down with a cozy clique of favored employees.