POLITICS – when defined by most dictionaries, it is mostly associated with the governance of a country, especially the debate or conflict among parties or groups having or hoping to achieve power. This could not be better demonstrated than with the upcoming Presidential campaign unfolding before us. It is the “third rail” of conversation in society. Your parents have always instructed you not to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table, and especially at Thanksgiving. But if you dig deeply into the definition of politics you will find the following description – “to deal with people in an opportunistic, manipulative or devious way for the purposes of gaining power or control”.
Little do we realize how prevalent a role politics play in our daily lives. It is engrained in our society. It is woven into the fabric of parenting, running a business, sports, etc. If you have raised children or even pets you have probably engaged in some type of “politicking” without even knowing you’re doing so. I’m sure you’ve spoken these words several times: “If you do this chore you will get this reward” or “If you eat your broccoli, I’ll give you ice cream”. How about leading your dog out the door with a treat to do his/her duty? This is politics in its simplest form. You have manipulated through trickery – a form of politicking.
The most common form of politics, and probably the most toxic in our daily lives, occurs in the workplace - otherwise known as the dreaded “office politics.” Simply stated, it is the art of dealing with people that produces outcomes that are beneficial to you as a manager or owner, or bettering yourself as an employee at the expense of others. It can have nasty ramifications, and drive a stake through a company if not kept in check. Gossip, cliques, favoritism, backstabbing and even sabotage are the major ingredients in office politics.
The way to help combat this problem is to repeatedly preach to your workers that they concentrate on their jobs and their jobs only. More importantly, instill in them the need to “become that employee that they themselves would want to work beside”. Strike favoritism out of the equation by treating everyone fairly and equally. This will go a long way in ridding a company of such a cancer.
Joseph Bodio is the president of the Associated Subcontractors of Mass., Boston and is president and CEO of LAN-TEL Communications, Norwood, Mass.