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Game of the Month Slush Fund

Slush Fund

slushTo play Slush Fund when discussing the following year's budget, a manager mislabels one section, creating a secret surplus to cope with overspending. The problem with this game is that it encourages managers to play fast and loose with their budgets, draining money from he corporate offers that they might not need. It also sets a bad recedent,communicating that budgets are not to be taken at face value and that playing games with them isn't just optional but necessary. Management eventually begins to suspect that managers are playing this game, and they begin questioning every line item in the budget, wasting enormous energy debating with managers whether item x is really necessary.Sometimes the slush fund even needs to be spent unnecessarily just to avoid questioning.

Example: Marcia, a midlevel manager at a consumer electronics company, routinely included an item in her budget labeled "special projects." Although Marcia would occasionally have a special project for which she needed money, she always allotted more money for special projects than she anticipated requiring. She rationalized this game by telling trusted colleagues that if she didn't have this slush fund, she would invariably go over budget, be chastised by her bosses, and be told that she needed to do a better job of watching her spending. "My way," she said, "I stay in management's good graces and make sure my department is properly funded."

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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.

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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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