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:
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who choose not to tolerate differences of opinion, emphasizing the meeting context.
- On Reporting Workplace Malpractice
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming August 22: Dealing with Credit Appropriation
- Very little is more frustrating than having someone else claim credit for the work you do. Worse, sometimes they blame you if they get into trouble after misusing your results. Here are three tips for dealing with credit appropriation. Available here and by RSS on August 22.
- And on August 29: Please Reassure Them
- When things go wildly wrong, someone is usually designated to investigate and assess the probability of further trouble. That role can be risky. Here are three guidelines for protecting yourself if that role falls to you. Available here and by RSS on August 29.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- 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.