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copy_copiaIn Copy, the player sends paper or electronic copies to a boss,a colleague, or someone else who is not in the natural information loop. Copying can provide the copier with a sense of power. It can be used to communicate that the copier has clout. It can also be done to intimidate a third person, letting her know that a copy was sent so as to apprise the receiver of a given situation. Copying anyone outside the natural information loop automatically gets everyone’s attention—it can be used for multiple purposes, including offering documentation in case something goes wrong. The key, though, is that it is a sneaky form of communication, one that’s done with ulterior motives. It creates suspicion and distrust, as everyone knows the copier has a hidden agenda.

Example: Tojiro copied four different executives in his e-mails whenever he made a decision that entailed some risk. Tojiro, a young executive with a fi nancial services fi rm, played the Copy game with an eye toward protecting himself in case any of his risky decisions didn’t pan out. Because his company’s culture was highly results oriented and political, Tojiro saw this game as nothing less than self-preservation. The Copy game was widely played at Tojiro’s company, and people seemed to think that as long as they covered themselves by copying, they wouldn’t get hurt if a decision turned out badly. This wasn’t the case—the culture was highly punitive—but people comforted themselves with the illusion that if they copied,they would be safe.

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Games of the Month

Token Involvement

To play Token Involvement, a manager conducts opinion surveys, focus group, or involvement meetings to communicate that "your opinion matters", but these activities are done only to make people feel involved rather than actually to involve them. The real intention is just to get rid of the complaints and for managers to show their management that they´re doing the "right" thing-involving their people in the decision-making process. The same game is played when leaders involve their direct reports supercially, soliciting their views on department strategy but relying exclusively on their views on department strategy but relying exclusively on thei own view. Cynicism becomes employees´ultimate response to this game, and they lose respect for management. Perhaps evens worse, when management really needs employees to be committed and contribuing to a major project, they have great difficulty securing this involvement.


Praise for Games at Work

jacopoA terrific read not only for senior leaders and executives but also for employees seeking growth in complex organizations. Goldstein and Read dissect the interpersonal dynamics that affect a company’s performance, provide a framework to understand the games that are commonly played in businesses around the world, and offer practical tools to correct these behaviors and improve the organization’s effectiveness.

Jacopo Bracco Executive Vice President DIRECTV Latin America

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