Change comes from the top

I imagine you’ve heard some employees saying, ‘it’s very political here’, when asked about their company.  I have and it started to make me think about what it means, what’s behind it and the effect that it has on the company.  Like most things, it’s the case that it has different meanings for different people, but fundamentally it carries a negative connotation.

Internal politics are an inevitable fact of life, not just in companies, but in organisations and groups of all kinds, in all places where people gather – even in churches!  I imagine that most senior managers would not want their company associated with this ‘informal strap line’ and surely, any forward-thinking company executive would want to do the following:

  • To understand why employees say it, then
  • Do something to change it – both the reality and the perception.

Senior Management must know that this is the talk, if they don’t then this amplifies the problem.  The first thing any caring executive would want to do is to decide to investigate it.  Just starting this process and getting some discrete views from a cross section of staff would, in itself, initiate an encouraging reaction.

Let’s imagine what employees would say if they were asked: ‘Decisions take far too long’, ‘No-one ever listens to us or asks our opinion’, We never see senior management,’ We’re not appreciated for what we do and ‘X never talks to Y’.  Now none of these examples mention the word politics, but the phrase, ‘it’s very political here’, has a unique way of wrapping up all these into one simple message, which so easily trips off the tongue, such that even those who have different gripes, may start to use it as a basis for introducing the one which they would like to moan about.

So, raising your head above the parapet, coming out of your office and finding out what people are saying about your company is a crucial first step.  Allocating some time, even a small amount on a regular basis will make a significant amount of difference.

‘Politics’ won’t disappear but real efforts can be made to reduce it and, more importantly, give staff something far more positive and rewarding to talk about.

Finding out is the first step, the next is to make some changes.  You’ll have to wait for another blog for that!