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Game of the Month Game of the Month of July - Marginalize

Game of the Month of July - Marginalize

marginalizeIn Marginalize, individuals are exiled from teams or groups because they challenge the status quo, aren’t one of the boss’s people, or don’t “fi t in” for other reasons. This game can be subtle or overt: leaving a person off distribution lists, not sending minutes to her, forgetting to call her. This cuts the person out of the decision-making loop and limits her effectiveness. People are often marginalized not because they’re failing to contribute or are a drag on teams but for personal or political reasons. This game is often played in a passive- aggressive manner—for example, a manager gives a direct report a thankless task that prevents him from working on a mission-critical piece of business, but apologizes profusely for having to give him the thankless task, explaining that “you were the only one available to do it; I really appreciate it.”

Example: The CEO of a food manufacturer had a favorite among her direct reports, a guy who was highly innovative and worked extremely hard. His peers, however, viewed this individual as the “teacher’s pet” and played the Marginalize game by leaving him out of informal discussions, “forgetting” to invite him to meetings, and often ganging up on him when he presented a concept. It reached a point where it became diffi cult for this individual to communicate an innovative idea; he was discouraged despite working hard and continually met with resistance from his colleagues. Although this story may give the impression that the marginalizing efforts of these colleagues were obvious, the employees were actually quite clever in the way they played the game. In the CEO’s presence, they seemed to treat this teacher’s pet like everyone else. In private, however, they schemed against him in small but signifi cant ways. Ultimately, he ended up resigning and taking a job with another organization.

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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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