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Report Highights Positive Power of Office Politics


Away from its image of petty point-scoring, office politics can be a force for the common good, according to a new report.

Author Linda Holbeche investigated "constructive" office politics, she claims that the distinction between this form and destructive politics is not so much the games played or the strategies deployed, but the intention behind them.

"Politics is a fact of life in organisations," she said. "People will deploy political skills and use their power and influence to enhance or protect their interests.

"However, constructive protagonists use politics to achieve a beneficial outcome for others as well as themselves. These people certainly exist in organisations but we’re more likely to know them as effective strategists, skilful influencers or even powerful leaders."

The study, developed through focus groups and surveys of 856 managers and HR professionals, found that 32% of managers believe it simply isn’t possible to use office politics constructively because people will always guard their turf and abuse their role power.

On the other hand, 58% claim they have experienced the constructive use of office politics. 61% say they have personally engaged in political behaviour which resulted in a positive outcome for their organisation.

Called ‘The Power of Constructive Politics’, by Roffey Park, the report argues that constructive politics does not happen by chance. As well as principled leadership, the research details several cultural factors which must be in place if constructive politics is to thrive.

"The organisational challenge is to create a culture which encourages the use of constructive political behaviour rather than the more negative, self-serving type," said Holbeche. "For this to work, each individual’s agenda must be aligned to theorganisational goals."


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