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:
- Why Don't They Believe Me?
- When we want people to believe us, and they don't, it just might be a result of our own actions or demeanor.
How does this happen?
- The Politics of the Critical Path: II
- The Critical Path of a project is the sequence of dependent tasks that determine the earliest completion
date of the effort. We don't usually consider tasks that are already complete, but they, too, can experience
the unique politics of the critical path.
- The Deck Chairs of the Titanic: Obvious Waste
- Among the most futile and irrelevant actions ever taken in crisis is rearranging the deck chairs of
the Titanic, which, of course, never actually happened. But in the workplace, we engage in activities
just as futile and irrelevant, often outside our awareness. Recognition is the first step to prevention.
- Pariah Professions: I
- In some organizations entire professions are held in low regard. Their members become pariahs to some
people in the rest of the organization. When these conditions prevail, organizational performance suffers.
- The End-to-End Cost of Meetings: I
- By now, most of us realize how expensive meetings are. Um, well, maybe not. Here's a look at some of
the most-often overlooked costs of meetings.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 8: Multi-Expert Consensus
- Some working groups consist of experts from many fields. When they must reach a decision by consensus, members have several options. Defining those options in advance can help the group reach a decision with all its relationships intact. Available here and by RSS on July 8.
- And on July 15: Disjoint Concept Vocabularies
- In disputes or in problem solving sessions, when we can't seem to come to agreement, we often attribute the difficulty to miscommunication, histories of disagreements, hidden agendas, or "personality clashes." Sometimes the cause is much simpler. Sometimes the concept vocabularies of the parties don't overlap. Available here and by RSS on July 15.
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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.
- Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?
Decision-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. 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.