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.
Notice how people join your groups. Which strategies work best? First in this series Top Next Issue
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operators can manipulate their environments while limiting their personal risk. How can you detect cutouts?
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See also Workplace Politics and Virtual and Global Teams for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming June 14: Pseudo-Collaborations
- Most workplace collaborations produce results of value. But some collaborations — pseudo-collaborations — are inherently incapable of producing value, due to performance management systems, or lack of authority, or lack of access to information. Available here and by RSS on June 14.
- And on June 21: Asking Burning Questions
- When we suddenly realize that an important question needs answering, directly asking that question in a meeting might not be an effective way to focus the attention of the group. There are risks. Fortunately, there are also ways to manage those risks. Available here and by RSS on June 21.
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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.
- Wikipedia has a nice article with a list of additional resources
- Some public libraries offer collections. Here's an example from Saskatoon.
- Check my own links collection
- LinkedIn's Office Politics discussion group