In last week's issue, we explored social entry strategies that emphasize the stance of the joiner. With those strategies, joiners present themselves in such a way as to bond with the group and to encourage reciprocal attempts to bond. This time, we consider strategies that depend for their success on the outcome of other kinds of interactions between the joiner and the group.
- Users of transforming strategies enter by changing the group in some way. This approach is effective when the group is in chaos following a disruption, such as dramatic change in the marketplace, loss of influence, or the passing of a leader.
- Transforming strategies can be problematic when the group is stable and healthy, or when it believes it is. In such circumstances, the joiner can seem to be disruptive or power hungry. To avoid this problem, some joiners foment disruption indirectly or by subterfuge.
- Donating strategies create connection to the group by providing something of value. The donation can be almost anything the group values. Examples are finance, material, labor, information, expertise, credibility, or external connections.
- Donating strategies can be problematic when the donation is something the group already has (or thinks it has), or when it is something the group regards as unimpressive. Excessively valuable donations can seem like bribery.
- Some joiners seek entry by simply demanding entry. Sometimes, but not always, they provide a basis for the demands. This approach can be effective when a basis is provided, and that basis is consistent with the values of the group, or when it relies on legal action.
- Demanding can be problematic when no basis is provided for the demands, or when the basis asserted is inconsistent with group values, or when the legal action, if employed, fails. In these cases, the joiner can seem petulant, selfish, or juvenile.
- Bringing questions before the group can be an effective method for joiners to demonstrate a thoughtful and receptive attitude, if the questions are presented respectfully.
- If the questioning Bringing questions before the group
can be an effective method for joiners
to demonstrate a thoughtful
and receptive attitudeseems more valuable to the joiner than the answers, questioning can be problematic. For example, trouble can appear when the responses to the questions don't seem to have any value to the questioner, or when subsequent questions are repetitive.
- Some joiners ally with one or more other joiners into a joining gang, which makes them comfortable with risks that they might not otherwise tolerate. Some groups encourage ganging, which are sometimes identified as a "freshman class" or "pledge class."
- Ganging can be problematic when it acts as a barrier between the joiners and the existing members of the group. For example, if the joiners seem to have greater affinity for each other than they do for the group, the purpose of ganging is defeated.
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More articles on Workplace Politics:
- I've Got Your Number, Pal
- Recent research has uncovered a human tendency — possibly universal — to believe that we
know others better than others know them, and that we know ourselves better than others know themselves.
These beliefs, rarely acknowledged and often wrong, are at the root of many a toxic conflict of long standing.
- The Politics of Lessons Learned
- Many organizations gather lessons learned — or at least, they believe they do. Mastering the political
subtleties of lessons learned efforts enhances results.
- No Tangles
- When we must say "no" to people who have superior organizational power, the message sometimes
fails to get across. The trouble can be in the form of the message, the style of delivery, or elsewhere.
How does this happen?
- Before You Blow the Whistle: I
- When organizations know that they've done something they shouldn't have, or they haven't done something
they should have, they often try to conceal the bad news. When dealing with whistleblowers, they can
be especially ruthless.
- Power Affect
- Expressing one's organizational power to others is essential to maintaining it. Expressing power one
does not yet have is just as useful in attaining it.
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- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
Beware any resource that speaks of "winning" at workplace politics or "defeating" it. You can benefit or not, but there is no score-keeping, and it isn't a game.