It's all a game to us: The subtle scourge of office scheming
by Matthew Crowley
April 30, 2009
Oscar Wilde once said, "Illusion is the first of all pleasures," and business authors Mauricio Goldstein and Philip Read would argue that workers please themselves with the illusion that colleagues are always altruistic and unselfish, consumed with goals and cooperation. Sadly, Read and Goldstein suggest, workplace harmony is often imaginary, disguising devious, divisive game playing.
In "Games at Work: How to Recognize and Reduce Office Politics" Goldstein and Read outline how colleagues hurt each other, and themselves, by shifting blame, fudging facts and telling lies. The authors say game playing kills morale and diverts energy from work. But they acknowledge that games are human nature, used to assuage anxieties and cover individual and organizational flaws.
It's natural to play games, Read and Goldstein say, and equally natural to pretend that you aren't. Revealingly, the authors said, organizations that stress open debate, intellectual honesty and teamwork, have minimal game playing. At organizations stressing hierarchy and fear, game playing was more frequent and intense; people in these places think they need games to advance.