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Office Politics during Integrations – Part 2: Positive Political Behaviors 

 April 29, 2021

By  Steve Nunn

It is human nature to consider “What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM), when making decisions. Understanding how office politics works in an acquired business is a powerful tool in making the business thrive.

Understand Employee Relations

Sometimes, influence is wielded by individuals who don’t have a position that reflects their influence in the company org. chart. Their influence may arise from, for example:

  • Having control over an important company process
  • Having respect from their peers for what they do at work
  • Recognition of what they do outside business hours
  • Having an appealing charisma

Merging business cultures together is a long-term project that requires leadership to understand the office politics. While leadership will understand the business that they come from, acquiring a business will require them to learn quickly about the other.

  • Find out who wields influence in your business through observation and discreet conversations
  • Learn which employees get along, and which are deliberately excluded from what would typically be a well-functioning group
  • Make sure that there are no interpersonal conflicts or harassment between employees

When you understand most of the intra-employee relationships, make sure that your communication and decision-making channels does not accidentally bias towards these channels:

  • Include subject matter experts from the acquiring and acquired businesses in decision-making
  • Do not align too closely with cliques
  • Try to not be too predictable
    • For example, highlight the achievements of employees in the acquired business who do not have a high profile, but are noteworthy in their accomplishments
    • Be careful with this point, as being unpredictable can foster negative office politics

Positive Political activities during integrations

Positive behaviors also combat office politics. Suggested activities for leadership to reduce biased decision-making:

  1. Recognize the activities of high achievers
    • Take care to not give credit to the team leaders over the individual
  2. Do not engage in office gossip, but be aware of it
    • Being aware of gossip can allow you to be prepared for surprises, but also to prevent negative events. For example, hearing about an unhappy salesperson can give you the opportunity to address the issues and prevent him/her leaving the business
    • However, do not believe every rumor that is floated. Be aware, but discerning
  3. Recognize the good work done by decision makers
    • Tacitly acknowledge that there were other options that could have been made and that The Right Thing was done by the decision maker
  4. Help a local charity, and observe which employees get involved in the charitable work

Emotional Intelligence

Uncovering and addressing office politics requires a developed emotional intelligence (EI). EI is a powerful tool for leadership that should be developed with leadership training or coaching, such as this detailed information from Innovative Edge. Assess your level of EI by taking an online quiz, such as this from MindTools https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/ei-quiz.htm

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