Tips, advice and musings to help you improve your management
and leadership skills
December 10, 2014
When starting a new company, or being hired at the forefront of a firm’s opening, you will need to complete a list of preliminary items.
First, you need to decide on a name, website and logo. You will need to figure out what items or services you will be selling, and what your unique angle is. Learn More
September 12, 2014
With over 10 million individuals registered as disabled in the UK, an ever growing number of employers are finding themselves in the process of recruiting or hiring members of the disabled work force. Helping disabled employees to make the most of their time at work begins by taking steps to ensure that adjustments are made to make sure they are able to complete their work tasks. Learn More
I had an interesting email last week from a female IT manager in a large company. Here’s her dilemma:
“I have a management position, but am always coming up against ‘male’ politics. How can I succeed without getting drawn into ugly gender battles and political infighting?”
This is an area that has caused problems for probably hundreds of years, and we’re not going to change them overnight. You may find it helpful to find a mentor (male or female) inside or outside the business. Build your relationships very carefully within the company and find ways in which you can make connections that bring value to your male colleagues. Follow up and ask for feedback. This way, you will build respect and find a tenable position among them.
Remember, politics plays a part in every organisation; it’s an inevitable effect of putting humans together in some sort of hierarchical arrangement. Their behaviours are pretty clearly shown in hypocrisy, double-dealing, cliques, self-interest and deception. People tend to see opportunities for themselves and they will take it. It naturally erodes trust and team performance will deteriorate as motivation is driven downward.
If your organisation is full of political strife, try to follow some simple rules:
Observe the organisation’s style without getting involved. Watch the processes so you can begin to understand what the patterns and motivations are.
Keep your counsel and work according to your own values. If you try to match the values of the business, you will only get stressed. Use your own integrity to make decisions.
Build a network of trusted allies. This helps you to reconfirm and re-establish your own values.
Challenge any politically-motivated behaviour. This takes assertiveness, but will win out in the long run. Saying something like ‘You seem to have a problem with some of my decisions…would you like to discuss them?’ will bring the issues out into the open.
By identifying what exactly are the motives of people who are playing the political hand, you may well uncover some of the issues that are causing other people problems too, and be able to decide on which direction you want to take within the company, even if you eventually decide it’s not for you.
Balancing quality and efficiency isn’t easy these days. Demands from customers and bosses have never been greater and sometimes you feel like throwing your hands in the air and saying “No way!” (or words to that effect!)
What can you do if you know that meeting a specific deadline will result in poor quality or corners being cut?
It might help if you asked the stakeholder “Will you approve the steps needed to meet that delivery date?”
They will probably ask for clarification. This will then allow you to make the point you wanted to make. “Your deadline will not allow me/us/the company to achieve the level of quality you would insist on”.
If they ask what steps you would suggest, tell them that a shorter deadline would force you to deliver reduced quality or quantity, less precision or less formality. Get the stakeholder to recognise these results in advance. Then tell them what will have to happen in order to alleviate these outcomes, like more or better resources or a changed time limit.
If no change can be made, make a note of what happens along the journey, not with a view to casting blame for the poor quality of the job, but to help you reflect on how to handle similar situations in the future.
Also, highlight why this seems to be happening more and more. Is your time management poor, or do you need some project management coaching? Analyse what you can control and what is outside your control before casting blame or criticism in another’s direction.
You may be able to negotiate the deadline in some way. And note that we said ‘negotiate’, not ‘concede’. You have to have something of value that you can offer the other party in order for them to accept the deadline movement. You’re the only person who will be able to answer that in detail, but think about how the change in deadline might affect quality or performance or results.
Commit to achieving those results, and the stakeholder will realise that, if you are supported, the extra time given was worth the wait.
So, learn to determine what can be done, rather than what can’t, and that will help you to ascertain the direction you need to go. Rather than saying “there’s no way”, you may end up saying “there is a way…I just have to find it!”
When we think of workplace politics we usually think of it with a negative connotation. Workplace or office politics tend to get a bit messy at times, as employees or team members clamor for attention and sometimes take credit for work they didn’t really do.
The real truth is that workplace politics isn’t actually a bad thing. The problem is that instead of simply learning to work with others, some people view it as a game and, as such, resort to manipulative tactics in order to play what they perceive is a game. Workplace politics simply is not a game. It’s life.
So what can you do as a manager to help deal with workplace politics? Start by creating the most positive work environment possible. Make sure your employees have enough work to do without overloading them. Employees with a reasonable workload are less likely to start trouble when they are bored. Make sure you are never acting in a manipulative manner – your employees will mimic whatever you do.
Another thing you can do to curb manipulative office politics is make sure your employees are interested in the work they have to do. Boring work is hard to focus on and if your employees aren’t focused they’ll start looking for other things to do with their time. Sometimes making work interesting isn’t as much in the work itself as it is in making sure your employees feel creative about how and why they need to do the work.
Finally, take a real vacation and encourage your employees to do the same. A real vacation constitutes at least a full week away from the office. Tired employees who never get away can easily become burnt out. If they burn out they’ll spend less time focused on the work itself and more time focused on socialiazing or personal work.
Workplace politics can be serious at times but for the most part it can be controlled if you keep your employees relaxed and happy. Do you have problems with workplace politics? If so, share your stories. We’d love to hear how you handled them!