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:
- Currying Favor
- The behavior of the office kiss-up drives many people bats. It's more than annoying, though —
it does real harm to the organization. What is the behavior?
- Managing Pressure: The Unexpected
- When projects falter, we expect demands for status and explanations. What's puzzling is how often this
happens to projects that aren't in trouble. Here's Part II of a catalog of strategies for managing
- When It's Just Not Your Job
- Has your job become frustrating because the organization has lost its way? Is circumventing the craziness
making you crazy too? How can you recover your perspective despite the situation?
- Columbo Strategy
- A late 20th-century television detective named Columbo had a unique approach to cracking murder cases.
His method is just as effective at work when the less powerful must deal with the powerful.
- Embarrassment, Shame, and Guilt at Work: Coping
- Coping effectively with feelings of embarrassment, shame, or guilt is the path to recovering a sense
of balance that's the foundation of clear thinking. And thinking clearly at work is important if you
want to avoid feeling embarrassment, shame, or guilt.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 1: The Big Power of Little Words
- Big, fancy words, like commensurate or obfuscation, tend to be more noticed than the little everyday words, like yet or best. That might be why the little words can be so much more powerful, steering conversations where their users want them to go. Available here and by RSS on February 1.
- And on February 8: Kerfuffles That Seem Like Something More
- Much of what we regard as political conflict is a series of squabbles commonly called kerfuffles. They captivate us while they're underway, but after a month or two they're forgotten. Why do they happen? Why do they persist? Available here and by RSS on February 8.
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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.