Essay on Groups and Politics

Published: 2021/12/02
Number of words: 1837

The organization structure is made up of different departments, teams or groups, and individuals working together to achieve the organization’s goal. However, these teams and individuals may have specific ambitions within the organization, which leads to office politics. Although, office politics can motivate people and groups to become more productive by utilizing the right resources and talent within the team. On the other hand, it can lead to unproductivity as well as destruction at the workplace. Therefore, the role of a project manager or a team leader is crucial to tackling office politics. This research paper focuses on the office environment in the organization. The efforts have been made to identify principal agents that influence change initiatives politically and analyze corresponding challenges. Further, a buy-in and support strategy has been formulated to implement change initiatives within the organizational structure or a department.

1.0 Introduction

A project manager or any employee within an organization experienced a scenario in which management enthusiastically incorporates change initiative to enhance performance through comprehensive changes in the organizational processes, the system, and culture. The launch of the change initiative seems enthusiastic; in some cases, considerable resources have been invested. Although, management and supervisor wondered about the failure of the change initiative, which started with enthusiasm. In some scenarios, it does not give any economic benefits, although some sincere employees produce short-term results, in the long-term, the organization is soon trapped into old working habits. The dysfunctional behavior kicks in, and process and performance improvement does not make the change initiative unsustainable. Senior management or supervisor loses reliability as employees dismiss the change initiative as “flavor of the month.” Many factors involved in the change initiative fail, such as office politics and resistance to change. The initial response from the team may look enthusiastic; however, some elements involved influence the office politics that eventually lead to the failure of the initiatives (Peus, Frey, Gerkhardt, Fischer & Traut-Mattausch, 2009). Politics is defined as, “science of guiding and influencing policies and the conduct of work.” Therefore, politics can play a crucial role in the success and failure of the change initiative. Whereas resistance is defined as “opposition to the change initiative.” Resistance could be either active or passive. There are many ways individuals, and a group can express their resistance (Lientz & Rea, 2004).

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1.1 Research methods

A case study approach is used for the research, which is a type of qualitative research. The research is based on “ABC Forging Inc.” -a pseudonym for one of the largest automotive forging corporations in the country. An organization structure is briefly discussed to understand the hierarchy and the group organization. The following research questions are answered through this research paper.

  • What are the “principal agents” with the ability to influence the change initiative in the workplace and corresponding challenges posed
  • How to establish buy-in and support strategy to implement change initiative by overcoming challenges in the group and politics at the workplace

2.0 The Organization

ABC Forging Inc. manufactured precision automotive components. The company’s organizational structure is shown in figure 1, which comprises several departments such as marketing, accounting, design, tool-room, forging, machining, quality, and logistics. Each department is working independently as well as with other departments according to their functional requirement. For example, the Quality and machining team is working together to produce a quality part that conforms product design set by the design team. Similarly, vendor development and receipt quality are working together to check the conformance of the products and material received from suppliers. Each department has several teams working on individual or several projects depend upon the complexity. Day-to-day functions are smooth except for usual sparks; however, the company has experienced significant flaws in implementing crucial change initiatives.

Figure 1: Organizational structure of ABC Forging Inc.

For example, during an internal annual factory audit, the auditor emphasized two possible changes that could be considered in next year to be more environmentally friendly by reducing the waste, the first is to reduce excess use of water in forging and machining division, and second is eliminating paperwork by using computers and use paper only if it is needed. The management decided to implement changes by consulting with the board of directors as well as team heads. All the team heads have had a chance to discuss the change with their subordinates. The response was positive, and the management decided to implement the first change initiative of reducing paperwork throughout the organization. However, the change initiative was a complete failure in the first month itself as within a month, people, especially employees working in the forging and machining division, started using the papers. The resistance to change initiative was political as well as practical.

2.1 Principal agents of resistance

As mentioned earlier, there are two reasons why change initiatives failed, practical reasons and political influence from senior team members. The practical reason was for line workers. It was difficult for them to note the instructions for the day without having the liberty of computers on the machine. Another reason was that very senior team members were reluctant to change their way of working; they were also reluctant to use the computers they had. Being a senior member of the team and rugged experienced working on the production floor, they tried to manipulate the team members by emphasizing the inconvenience of “Not using papers” and their lack of interest in learning new technology. Eventually, most of the people in these two divisions gave up, and within a month, both of these plants started to use papers resulting in the complete failure of the change initiative. In this scenario, the following elements are ‘principal agents’ of resistance,

  1. The company management that implemented a change based on the team leader’s response and without thorough thinking on the consequences of a sudden change
  2. Lineworkers in the machining and forging division, these employees found it difficult to keep track of the instructions to do their job effectively
  3. Senior team member in machining and forging division that influences their subordinate (New generation and technologically sound) to give up on the change initiative implemented by the management

It is necessary to note here that, ‘principal-agent in every change initiative is different as every change affect every team member differently as paperless policy affected senior team members and line workers; therefore, they tried to influence subordinates to deviate, similarly for different change initiative ‘principal agents’ could be different depending upon the effect and their ambition (King & Peterson, 2007).

2.2 Strategies to overcome challenges

After identifying the principal agents, which are also known as ‘internal agents’ and corresponding reasons, the following strategies could be implemented (Goldberg & Martin, 2008),

  • Communication with all the employees through ‘strategic survey.’

This will help establish direct communication with top management between senior, mid, and low-level employees. As a result, management will have a clear picture of the practical problems to which solutions could be found. In addition, employees will have a sense of importance, motivating them to recognize the organization’s concerns.

  • Resources

The line workers need alternative resources such as an LED screen and keyboard to type in their instructions or at least a screen that will display the instructions, schedule, and quantity produced on the screen, which will not affect their performance due to the paperless policy.

  • Training

The failure of an earlier paperless policy was a lack of training to the employees (Lower and senior team members) and senior team members who are not familiar with the latest technology and software and utterly unaware of benefits such as time-saving. The training session will also help to answer their concerns which enhances their trust in the process and the company.

  • Gradual implementation

Earlier, the paperless policy was implemented by a single notification, which resulted in chaos. The best method is to implement the policy gradually, starting with the senior staff members after their training, which will motivate their subordinates to follow. After the success of the first phase, the second phase could be implemented, for example, mid-level employees, followed by lower-level employees. Gradual implementation assures success as it gives time to mitigate the issues one at a time if it occurs.

2.3 Buy-in support

Successful implementation of the change initiative needs resources and support from management which can be requested from top management for which the following strategy can be implemented (Ballowe, 2019),

  • Highlight benefits

Top management does understand the profit and loss statement. However, to catch top management’s attention, it must highlight the benefits of the paperless policy and the resulting reduction in cost in the long term.

  • Explain the idea and strategic plan

The implementation plans and resources needed to achieve success should be communicated clearly with assured benefit to the organization. For example, the benefit of training to the employees, computers on-line stations and phases of implementation should be thoroughly communicated.

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  • Motivation to the management

Top management is usually motivated by the increasing profit margins in the balance sheet and the enhancing image of the company. This is a good chance through which profits to the company can be presented to the management. The paperless policy is one of the best environmentally friendly initiatives that could be flaunted during the marketing to enhance the company’s image and sales.

3.0 Conclusion

This research paper presented the hypothesis based on the research findings for the research questions formulated in the beginning. The research paper shows the influence of office politics and situations on the change initiative. It does not matter whether the change is good or bad, but the principal element with the capacity to influence the process could affect any proposed changes. The paper analyzes ABC Forging Inc. for its change initiative strategy and identified principal agents that influence the change initiative implementation. Finally, a systematic strategy is proposed to assure the success of the change initiative and a straightforward strategy to buy-in support from management.

Work Cited

Ballowe, T. (2019). 3 Perspectives for Getting Buy-in From Management. Retrieved from

Goldberg, D., & Martin, D. (2008). The entrepreneur’s guide to successful leadership. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.

King, S., & Peterson, L. (2007). How Effective Leaders Achieve Success in Critical Change Initiatives, Part 2: Why Change Leadership Must Transcend Project Management for Complex Initiatives to Be Successful. Healthcare Quarterly10(2), 72-75. doi: 10.12927/hcq.18812

Lientz, B., & Rea, K. (2004). Breakthrough IT change management (pp. 33-34). Amsterdam: Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Peus, C., Frey, D., Gerkhardt, M., Fischer, P., & Traut-Mattausch, E. (2009). Leading and Managing Organizational Change Initiatives. Management Revu20(2), 158-175. doi: 10.5771/0935-9915-2009-2-158

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