As a former US political campaign consultant from the '90s, I've rarely seen the words "political" and "politics" used with as much revulsion as the world's current electoral menu is sparking today.Â
Inside of this revulsion is a paradox.Â
Read closely this definition from the Oxford English Dictionary: that politics encompasses "the principles relating to orÂ inherentÂ in aÂ sphereÂ or activity, especially when concerned with power and status:the politics ofÂ gender."
As much as people are wanting to disparage or avoid "politics" in the business and in the civic spheres, two realities underscore its essential importance:
* the presence of specific stated and unstated operating principles in an organization or community
* the extent to which individuals have a degree of power to apply, adapt to, shape, accept, or resist those principles
With very few exceptions, Noam Chomsky's views notwithstanding, individuals have some degree of political power in the workplaces and communities in which they operate. Effective internal communication, in essence, asks employees to channel their individual power to support or enable common objectives.Â Ineffective internal communication acts as if such power is nonexistent or irrelevant.Â
This doesn't mean that employees have to continuously be given a lot of options. It just means recognizing that they have a choice even if onlyÂ one option is on the menu.
Politics isn't the enemy of effective internal communication. It's the most essential ingredient.
2 thoughts on “Is politics the enemy? No, it’s important.”
Good post Mike. In a team of two, there might be disagreement. In a team of three, there can be factions. On the list of essential reads for communication professionals, I include Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Managing With Power. It’s descriptions of the pragmatic outcomes of workplace politics – or power dynamics in his terms – and the approaches he describes for working through different situations shifts politics from a dirty word to a reality that needs to be understood and worked through.
Sounds like a good read! Agree on your factions comment–politics is as natural to organizations and communities gravity is intrinsic to physics.
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