Let’s define organizational politics splitting them into two words – organization and politics. Organization is a social unit of people that is structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue collective goals and politics pertains to the activities, actions, policies that are used to gain and hold power over a human community. When politics is there, then the word “power” comes with it. Organizational politics is the pursuit of individual agendas and self interest in an organization without regard to their effect on the organization’s efforts to achieve its goals.
Politics in business is the use of power and social networking within an organization to achieve changes that benefit the organization or individuals within it. Power is the possession of authority and influence over others. It is a tool that, depending on how it’s used, can lead to either positive or negative outcomes in an organization. For managers, they have the coercive, referent, legitimate, expert and reward power with them.
Politics, whatever sense it maybe, people always thinks of it dirty. In the real sense of politics in the country where corruption is rampant or identity is defined by what you’ve done for the benefit of all, when power and politics are combined, either good or bad effects are there depending on the motive of the one in the position. When it’s in the workplace, that’s same thing! Higher ups can also use their power to either improve or worsen the company’s status.
Best example I would say is with promotions, in most cases it should be a choice of people that performs outstanding and has good credentials judged by the positions above, however politics is when someone was promoted just because he/she’s friends with the higher position. Or someone gaining power in absolute terms at someone else’s expense.
What comes to my mind when politics in an organization is mentioned, are the words coalition and collusion. From merriam dictionary, the term coalition is a group of people, groups or countries who have joined together for a common purpose while collusion pertains to a secret cooperation for an illegal or dishonest purpose. Both works and is common in a workplace especially with the higher ups or between employees. Taken negatively, both causes the downfall of a company and would lead to a bad employee experience especially those who are innocently unaware of the under the table happenings in the organization.
Politics are a part of organizational life, because organizations are made up of different interests that need to be aligned. In the negative light, saying that someone is “political” generally stirs up images of back-room dealing, manipulation, or hidden agendas for personal gain. A person engaging in these types of political behaviors is said to be engaging in self-serving behavior that is not sanctioned by the organization. Thus, affecting the workplace environment as well as decision making (if higher ups are involved). It’s a fact that it’s part of the organization, that’s why good people put into appointment has a big impact.