Navigating politics in an organization.
As I’ve moved along on many projects I have found that different organizations have different hierarchies and methods of delivery for actions and responses. The students are in the process of learning the same lessons and are becoming frustrated with the amount of time or scheduling conflicts that have come up in the process of getting approval for their campaigns.
Their current state of “I”.
Students are use to submitting papers and getting feedback by grades and due dates. So to them this closes the loop and can be considered executed. It all revolves on the axes of themselves or “I”. This doesn’t require much navigating other than:
- Do I pay attention in class?
- Am I a disturbance or a functioning member of the classroom?
- Am I giving valuable assets (feedback, discussion, outside supportive material and application) to my class and fellow students?
- Am I completing work by the due dates?
- Do I get good grades? Am I able to comprehend the necessary material?
So the difficulty in directing their frustration is teaching them that because you have finished your thoughts and found supportive references for wanting to implement them does not mean that you can go about executing them. It actually requires approval from their superiors and if necessary from the following superiors. This is important for students to understand as they are coming up with campaigns. Especially in an environment where the liabilities or ramifications are high. Getting them to express their ideas as benefits and actions that can positively affect the organization is the key to approval.
Changing to applying an organizational attitude: So we sat down and discussed channels for approval and the support necessary by penetration of ideas.
1. Channels: Talking to those necessary to get approval and what I should say.
- How this will this affect the organization goals positively.
- How it can be quantified for administrative purposes.
- Organizing your briefs to leave for approval if necessary
2. Getting Support: Within the organizational structure.
Allowing people to know what you are up to and the benefits of visibility or increased involvement from students and the community. These are great points for championing people within the organization or those who lend a supportive role in approval of their plan.
They already do this in their daily lives, it is just giving them an example to realize how they do it and allowing them to come up with how they will apply it to this organization structure.
Teaching individual politics through
Example: You want to go into the city with a group of friends to see a band play. But as expected your parents say “No.” Notice how the response is just “No.” meaning there is not to be a discussion about it. So I asked the students how do you turn this into a discussion? Their response was
- Why I want to go.
- How I would get there and that it can be done safely.
- Who is involved.
- Suggested compromises that they could live with such as, who could chaperone or what chores they would do in exchange for being allowed to go.
- A previous example of their responsibility and how it can apply to this situation.
As you can see they are coming up with points that champion their cause. Anyone with children or experience interacting with teenagers can attest to the fact that they have been honing the art of negotiation for many years! Beginning with why that want a toy, or a certain cereal in the store. So giving them the example and having them focus on the application is the best way to get them thinking of how to apply these same techniques in an organizational structure.
But then you get to the point that each student has a different learned technique based on their experience with their set of parents. Well then I came up with the idea “would you go to your parents individually or as a collective unit?” For those that answered “Individually” I stated it was most likely for the reason of different value systems or personalities. Meaning that what motivates one might not be what motivates another. This is exactly what happens in the real world outside of their direct microcosm of a home.
Teaching organizational politics through
I then brought up the following example of their friends. Each individual friend has a different personality (funny, serious, smart, average, athletic, etc) and therefore their interactions with each friend may vary.
They could even have an underlying similarity among their group of friends, because they have similar qualities and want similar things. They could even have multiple microcosms such as clubs and sports they participate in. Those also in turn have different driving forces aka Value Systems such as discipline in academics or athletics.
The take away:
They move differently in each of those microcosms. They understand that how they act with their parents might not get them the desired effect with teachers, coaches, teammates or friends. They realize subconsciously that different value systems require different interactions and focuses. Those same concepts can be applied to individuals and organizations.
3. Involvement through motivation.
If you are involving multiple areas of an organization it is imperative to have the support of the heads of each area. For example:
- We want to involve the business department for interns. They will benefit from involvement because students will be involved in executing campaigns, which will give them real world application of what is taught in the classroom.
- We want to involve the English department and clubs. They will benefit because of the journalism and public relations experience. Also in addition the writing club will have copy writing experience.