Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That's Not So Easy

The Staples' Easy Button isn't going to help employees out with the number one request on their wish list for office improvement:  Eliminate Office Politics

In preparation for "Improve Your Office Day" on October 4th, Staples released results from a survey they conducted in September (Staples Survey) sharing employee wishes for better technology and more comfortable office furniture.  But granting the number one request isn't so easy as a trip to Staples.

Management is the major influence on the role of office politics within a company's culture.  It's the classic example of The Shadow of A Leader (Senn-Delaney Leadership).  If politics are created and encouraged within the leadership teams, individual employees will follow suit.  And even those who make their best efforts to "stay out of it" will be affected if their direct management and/or team members are playing the game.

Office politics are a distraction to the real work of the organization, draining energy and wasting time.  They can be the very reason teams fail to reach their full potential.  If you suspect your team is suffering from the politics game, this survey could be a great conversation starter.   


  1. As a Vice President for Experian, how did you handle eliminating office politics? The culture there, especially and including your tenure, was nothing but office politics. People walked on egg shells, made sure they were "in" with the "right" people, etc. How would you have handled that differently if you could go back?

  2. Yes, our organization grew through acquisition with frequent restructuring and senior leadership changes that created a highly charged political environment. If I could coach my former self, I'd challenge her to ask more questions about how those politics were affecting both my teams and the teams around me. I'd also encourage my former self to forge stronger relationships with the senior leadership in areas outside my department/division. When someone says they want to get rid of office politics, the general implication is that someone is trying to "win" (or be seen as the winner) at the expense of someone else. Having good communication and strong relationships at a broader level allows a leader to better understand how actions they take could be having a negative impact on those around them.