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How people survive the work place political jungle Essay

Distinguish between positive and negative corporate politics and explain how these can influence employment engagement. The essay will seek to distinguish between positive and negative corporate politics. The writer will start by defining corporate politics in trying to have an understanding of corporate politics and how it influence employee engagement Kakabadse (1983) cited by Armstrong defines politics as ‘a process, that of influencing individuals and groups of people to your point of view, where you cannot rely on authority’. Organizations consist of individuals who, while they are ostensibly there to achieve a common purpose, are, at the same time, driven by their own needs to achieve their own goals (Armstrong, 2009). There is significant difference between corporate politics and negative corporate politics. This can seen from the effect the two have on employee engagement and the purpose of the individual that is to say positive corporate politics is done as tool mainly by management and supervisors to try and influence other staff so as to meet organisational goals.

Positive corporate politics is normal done to the benefit of the organisation as a whole. On the other hand negative corporate politics is self fulfilling – it is aimed achieving self interests and in most cases it is against organisational goals Positive corporate politics include the process of influencing individual endeavour and ambition to the common good. Some individuals genuinely believe that using political means to achieve their goals will benefit the organization as well as themselves. Positive corporate politics can thus illustrated in the following case; Mrs Takuta is the Personnel at ZTRD Development Bank and is deputised by Taurai who she went to the same University and the two were in the same class. Taurai was more intelligent than his supervisor and because of the relation between the two, Mrs Takuta always find it difficult to give Taurai orders and in extreme situations taurai will challenge his boss. In the quest to have work done through her junior, Mrs Takuta will use the following statement “the HR Manager wants the report done by the end of the day”.

Mrs Takuta would use the HR Manager’s authority to influence Taurai to perform his duties. To the same effect, Positive corporate politics can increase efficiency, form interpersonal relationships, expedite change, and profit the organization and its members simultaneously. This can be achieved if those in power are able to use their power to influence members of staff to this effect. Thus positive corporate politics would also include the different powers vested in them to influence positive employee engagement and increase in productivity. Management can give their employees the power to make decisions about their jobs – flexible autonomy, reward for good performance among others. Positive corporate politics involves action by individuals or groups to acquire develop and use power and other resources in order to obtain preferred outcomes (Hellriegel, Slocum and Woodman, 1995) Armstrong (2009) defines power as the capacity to secure the dominance of one’s goals or value over others. Individuals and managers can thus influence directly and indirectly using the various types of powers.

French and Raven (1959) cited by Armstrong identified the four different types of powers that can be used to influence other employees and the power are; reward power, coercive power, expert power and legitimate power. Reward power is when individuals and managers use the reward power to influence or obtain compliance from subordinates by promising or granting rewards that includes salary increase, bonuses or even promotions. It is the management who normal use this power positively to achieve company goals. Coercive power is used to obtain compliance through threats of punishment and actual punishment. For example promising to fire an employee if they use company vehicles for personal use. The ability to influence others with the power anchored in one’s formal position of authority thus the legitimate power. Individuals can use their legitimate positions of authority to get things done through others.

Legitimate power focuses constructively on job performance. Expert power is when individuals have influence because of the valueable information or knowledge they posses. The supervisor’s power is enhanced because they know about work schedules and assignments before their subordinates. Corporate politics involves struggles between social entities for resources, personal conflict and a variety of influence tactics executed by individuals and groups to obtain benefits and goals in different ways (Molm 1997) cited by Vigoda, (2000). Molm’s view of corporate politics would to a greater extent reflect negative corporate politics. Ferris, Russ, and Fundt, (1989) cited by Vigoda (2000) defines negative corporate politics as behaviour strategically designed to maximise self interests. Corporate politics can contradict the collective organisational goals or the interests of other people. Medison etal 1980) cited by Vigoda, (2000) observed that when individuals were asked to describe work place politics they would list self serving and manipulative activities.

It can then be understood that negative corporate benefits individuals at the expense of the entire organisation or a work unit. The behaviour is thus associated with manipulation, defamation, subversiveness and illegitimate use of power to attain one’s objectives. Corporate politics can then lead to job anxiety, decrease job satisfaction, and withdrawal from the organisation. Dorory (1993) cited by Vigoda, (2000) found that corporate politics has a potential demaging effect especially on lower status employees. He speculated that employees who lacked a stable power base and effective means of influencing perceived organisational politics as a source of frastiration and react by showing negative attitude towards the organisation. Employees can feel isolated and unhappy if they are not part of a cohesive team or if they are bedevilled by disruptive power politics.

In conclusion, one can therefore generalise that positive corporate politics reinforces employee engagement. Employees tend to put more effort either because they expect a reward or have been promised reward for such performance. That is to say employees can be influenced by the reward power. Employees work hard or do not do unwanted behaviours to avoid punishment. in most cases, employees will also give respect to those in authority thus the legitimate power. However, on the other hand, employee will not perform as expected thats negative engagement which can be caused by negative corporate politics.

Using case studies, discuss how people within an organisation can use political tactics to survive the corporate political jungle? Individuals within an organisation which can be likened to a political jungle act out roles in efforts to establish identities they wish to convey, and which can result in personal gain. It should also be noted that people alter the image they choose to present, and the strategy used to present this image, based on the situation they are in and the outcomes they hope to achieve that is how they intend to survive (Chad etal 2003). To this effect, it is important to note that individuals do not necessarily use the same tactic in every situation. Likewise, different individuals may choose different tactics when faced with similar situations. For example, whereas one individual may use self-promotion to obtain a job offer, that same individual may use ingratiation or rationality in an attempt to obtain a promotion or pay raise.

On the other hand, another individual, when faced with the same situation, may use ingratiation to obtain a job offer and assertiveness or self-promotion to win a pay raise. Different individuals may use a number of contextual factors which influence tactics an individual chooses to use, under what circumstances he or she chooses to use them, and how effective the tactic of choice will be. Such factors include the relative power of the parties, the direction of the influence attempt, the objective of the influence attempt, and the political skill of the influencer (Falbe & Yukl, 1992; Ferris, Perrewe, Anthony, & Gilmore, 2000) cited by Chad etal (2003). Buelens etal (2011) also subscribe to the same tactics as identified by Appelbaum and Brent (1998). He pointed out that individuals would use different tactics to get influence within an organisation or rather to get favours and promotions from their bosses.

It is however believed that political behaviour is far less common and less intense among employees in lower-level positions than among employees in higher-level positions. There are a variety of political tactics used by employees at almost every organizational level that include forming coalitions and networks, impression management, information management, pursue line responsibility , ingratiation , rational persuasion, consultation and exchange Appelbaum and Brent (1998) . Forming coalitions and networks best known as networking, is a political tactic which consists of befriending important people. These people may not be in positions of any obvious political value but their jobs may provide them with information that could be useful to have. Some people find that forming friendships with people in upper-level management can help them gain access to important information (Appelbaum and Brent (1998). The above can be illustrated in the following case: Zikanda was a messenger at RIT Energy.

Despite the fact that Zikanda was just a messenger, other senior employees would always give him respect and at most times conform to his needs and favours. For many years in the same organisation, I never realised why even middle level managers would actually conform to unreasonable demands of a mere messenger. Zikanda would take the pool car home as and when he feel like and no one would question that and worse of other senior employee would commute or even ask for transport from him. I later realised that his power or influence was because of his relationship with the General Manager. Zikanda was no relative with the boss but has managed to form a network with the General Manager they were friends. Zikanda every lunch time would go to the General Manager’s office ask him what he want for lunch.

It was Zikanda’s job to be sent to buy him lunch however it was the way the whole thing was done, he would at times buy him lunch with his own monies. The General Manager and Zikanda were just friends they were just too close. Other employees were not comfortable with this relation there were not sure what information the two buddies share. Zikanda has managed to make a network with the General Manager. Impression management is a simple tactic that most people uses from time to time is the management of their outward appearance and style in the quest of trying to impress those in authority. Generally, most organizations prefer a particular image that consists of being loyal, attentive, honest, neatly groomed and sociable. By deliberately trying to exhibit this preferred image, an individual can make a positive impression on influential members of the organization.

As illustrated in the case of Transport officer who has turned himself to driver. Nhetuka is a transport officer at ZBM Company. Mr Nhetuka has turned himself into a driver in trying to impress management. Nhetuka is always driving managers when he is supposed to delegate drivers to drive managers around. Not only that he takes the Area Manager’s son to and from school a job which is supposed to be done by company driver. Information management is a tactic consisting of managing the information that is shared with others. The nature, as well as the timing, of information given out can have strong effects on others’ conduct (Appelbaum and Brent (1998). People who play the information management game are not likely to lie or spread misinformation, but they rely on the carefully planned release of valid information to obtain their ends (Vecchio and Appelbaum, 1995, p. 323) cited by Appelbaum and Brent (1998).

An example can be given of a personnel Clerk who by virtue of his job has access to very important information to include how people can get access to loans among others. The person having such a position can sort respect and influence to the extent that he is able to make people lower themselves to get that information. In a political jungle despite the fact that this information should be given to all employees, one can choose to with hold the information for his own benefit. Pursuing core business within an organization, some positions are more closely tied to the primary mission of the organization thus the line positions. They are at the very heart of the organization. While staff people may come to wield great power within their own territories, it is the people who do core business who usually “call the shots” on major issues. Core staff not only makes the more important decisions within the organization, they are also more likely to be promoted to top-level executive positions. In many organizations, there is a preferred department of origin and career path for top- level managers.

Therefore, one way to gain influence within an organization is to be assigned to a core position. It will often provide more visibility, influence, and upward mobility. A case to support the effect of core position for influence in the in an organisation; Takunda was an administration clerk ZETDC an organisation whose core business is to transmit and distribute electricity. He worked very hard for ten years furthering his qualification hoping that one day he will be promoted and be given a higher grade but nothing cane his way. ZETDC would on get people with 5 ‘O’ Level train them as electricians and give them good grades despite that they only posses a Certificate in Electrical power engineering. Takunda then decided to change the career and started a programme at the Polytechnic were he attained a Certificate in Electrical Power Engineering.

And it was only then Takunda was recognised and promoted. ‘Ingratiation tactic involves giving compliments or doing favours for superiors or co-workers. Most people have a difficult time rejecting the positive advances of others. Ingratiation usually works as a tactic insofar as the target often feels positive toward the source even if the ingratiation attempt is fairly blatant and transparent. In the behavioural sciences, the notion of “social reciprocity” has been offered to help explain the process of ingratiation. In social reciprocity, there is a feeling of a social obligation to repay the positive actions of others with similar actions’ Appelbaum and Brent (1998). Appelbaum and Brent, (1998) defines ingratiation as an attempt by individuals to increase their attractiveness in the eyes of others. Ingratiation tends to be used more as an upward influence process than as a downward influence process.

This tactic can best be observed when especial when one has a female boss how often do we pass complements to our female bosses, “nice hair style”, “nice dress” even if we don’t mean it. It is a political game most of us play to survive hash judgement from our bosses. In case of a Human resources clerk who was left acting as Human Resources Officer. During the absence of his boss, Sipiwe was supposed to employ a Customer Care Clerk on a contract basis. Sipiwe knew that his boss’s daughter was unemployed and Sipiwe took this opportunity to employee the boss’s daughter without even consulting the boss. It was later discovered that Sipiwe did this because she had a boyfriend who was out of employment. Sipiwe calculated and realised that it would be easy for her to convince the boss to employ her boyfriend since she has employed the boss’s daughter. In a game of politics one has to be clever and calculative and be able to use political tactics to your best advantage. The case above illustrates a tactic called exchange.

Appelbaum, S..H. and Hughes, B. (1998) Ingratiation as a political tactic: Effects within the
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Armstrong, M. (2009) Armstrong’s handbook of human resources management Practice;
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Buelens, M. etal (2011) Organisational Behaviour; Berkshire,McGrall- Hill Chad, A. etal (2003) Influence tactics and work outcomes; Journal of Organisational
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Hellriegal, D. , Slocum, W. J. Jr. and Woodman, R. W. (1995), Organisational Behaviour;New York, West Publishing Company. Vigoda, E. (2000), Organisational Politics, Job attitudes and work outcomes: Exploration and implications for the Public Sector, Journal of Vocational Behaviour Vol 57.





Assignment Cover Page

Surname : NcubeName: Innocent Taurai

Reg. Number: R135973GMode of Entry: VISITING

Level 2.1

Lecturer: Mrs. Masitara

Distinguish between positive and negative corporate politics and explain how these can influence employment engagement. Using case studies, discuss how people within an organisation can use political tactics to survive the corporate political jungle?

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