In my role as an Employment Counsellor I got to hear many stories of why people found themselves unemployed. For some it was simply that the business wasn’t doing well and there was not enough cash flow for them to be employed. For many, they blamed the culture of the organization. There was favouritism, employees had to tiptoe around certain people, there was a lack of knowledge on the organization, other employees were taking credit for the things they had done. In other words, office politics was creating an unhealthy workplace. The only thing consistent in the organization was the inconsistency.
It is difficult to imagine a politics free organization, but some have managed to come close. Because people are involved, it is difficult to avoid. The culture of the organization begins at the top and communication is the key. By being open and transparent, employees have less to speculate on, reducing the potential elephants in the room.
Politics begin when conversations are underground and caused by a lack of knowledge or conflicting information within an organization. Whether the message is good or bad, a leader shares it with the employees to minimize the speculation. Employees also do not know how they can help if they do not know what is going on.
Once politics takes over in an organization it is difficult to gain back the trust of the employees. Hard work on communication needs to take place. If you can get buy-in from the employees, programs such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® can be instrumental to understanding change, conflict, communication, and building teams.
The sad thing is many organizations do not have a finger on the pulse and think everything is doing well. They are surprised when good employees leave and do not believe that their culture has caused the resignation. Many times, the employee leaving is not given an exit interview, so no insight is gained as to why they are leaving.
If you are a manager, owner, or CEO, be open and consistent with your employees and know who they are and what they do. They are not your friends, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly!
Keep the politics out or they may ‘elect’ to leave!
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