Politics Performance Relationship

The politics performance relationship appears to be moderated by an individual’s understanding of the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of organizational politics. An individual who has a clear understanding of who is responsible for making decisions and why they were selected to be the decision makers would have a better understanding of how and why things happen the way they do than some one who does not understand the decision making process in the organization. When both politics and understanding are high, performance is likely to increase because the individual will see political actions as an opportunity. This is consistent with what you might expect among individuals with well-honed political skills. But when understanding is low, individuals are more likely to see politics as a threat, which would have a negative effect on job performance. Second, when politics is seen as a threat and consistently responded to with defensiveness, negative outcomes are almost sure to surface eventually. When people perceive politics as threat rather than as an opportunity, they often respond with defensive behaviors reactive and protective behaviors to avoid action, blame, or change. And defensive behaviors are often associated with negative feelings toward the job and work environment. In the short run, employee may find that defensiveness protects their self-interest. But in the long run, it wears them down. People who consistently rely on defensiveness find that, eventually, it is the only way they know how to behave. At that point, they lose the trust and support of their peers, bosses, employees and clients.

Are our conclusions about responses to politics globally valid? Should we expect employees in Israel, for instance to respond the same way to workplace politics as that employees in the United States do? Almost all our conclusions on employees reactions to organizational politics are based on studies conducted in North America. The few studies that have included other countries suggest some minor modification. Israelis and Brits, for instance seem to generally respond as do North Americans. That is, the perception of organizational politics among employees in these countries is related to decreased job satisfaction and increased turnover. But in countries that are more politically unstable, like Israel, employees seem to demonstrate greater tolerance of intense political processes in the workplace. This is likely to be because people in these countries are used to power struggles and have more experience in coping with them. This suggests that people from politically turbulent countries in the Middle East or Latin America might be more accepting of organizational politics, and even more willing to use aggressive political tactics in the workplace, than people from countries such as Great Britain or Switzerland.

Defensive Behaviors:

Avoiding Action>

Over-conforming: Strictly interpreting your responsibility by saying things like, ‘The rules clearly state… or this is the way we’ve always done it’.

Buck passing: Transferring responsibility for the execution of a task or decision to someone else.

Playing dumb: Avoiding an unwanted task by falsely pleading ignorance or inability.

Stretching: Prolonging a task so that one person appears to be occupied for example, tuning a two week task into a four month job.

Stalling: Appearing to be more or less supportive publicly while doing little or nothing privately.

Avoiding Blame:

Buffing: This is a nice way to refer to covering your rear. It describes the practice of rigorously documenting activity to project an image of competence and thoroughness.

Playing Safe: Evading situations that may reflect unfavorably. It includes taking on only projects with a high probability of success, having risky decisions approved by superiors, qualifying expressions of judgment, and taking neutral positions in conflicts.

Justifying: Developing explanation that lessen one’s responsibility for negative outcome and/or apologizing to demonstrate remorse.
Scapegoating: Placing the blame for negative outcomes on external factors that are not entirely blameworthy.

Misrepresenting: Manipulation of information by distortion, embellishment, deception, selective presentation or confusion.

Avoiding Change:
Prevention: Trying to prevent a threatening change from occurring.
Self protection: Acting in ways to protect one’s self-interest during change by guarding information or other resources.