Be a Great Manager: Say “No” to Office Politics

January 15, 2016

Be a Great Manager: Say “No” to Office Politics

We’ve talked about trust, motivation, outcomes, and accountability as traits of a great manager. There is one more … when managers choose politics over productivity.great managers productivity

Jim Clift, Gallup CEO, says, “A manager with little talent for the job will deal with workplace problems through manipulation and unhelpful office politics.” He’s right. To get top performance, which creates high levels of productivity, managers have to be employee-focused. In previous articles, I have talked about the need for managers to:

  1. Build trust by recognizing the value of employees
  2. Know what motivates each employee
  3. Role model and insist upon accountability
  4. Solicit feedback and correct course to get results.

This last aspect of a great manager is equally important. Choosing to focus on employee productivity rather than office politics is a conscious decision. Managers who participate in “one-upsmanship” or “knowledge is power” or “divide and conquer” are working to enhance their own personal position.  And every time a manager makes that kind of decision, the result will be lowered productivity because these games disengage employees.

Employees see this as failure on two levels:

  1. Failure of a manager who cares more about themselves than either employees or the company
  2. Failure of company leadership for tolerating this behavior at the expense of the company (reduced engagement, productivity, and likely even customer satisfaction)

That’s why employee engagement is a full-company exercise. It starts with great managers who are employee-focused, but it includes the full spectrum of leaders working in concert with an eye always on staying true to the mission.

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