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Jossey Bass on Leadership

Games at Work Interfere with Key Business Process

by Mauricio Goldstein and Philip Read

August 13, 2009


Jossey_Bass_On_LeadershipOrganizational Experts Mauricio Goldstein and Philip Read, authors of Games at Work: How to Recognize and Reduce Office Politics, share some insight on specific office games that hinder productivity and the business process. Read on to see what they have to say:

"In our last blog we described games, and how they can interfere with productivity through sapping morale, becoming obstacles to learning, decreasing innovation and risk taking, and producing rigidity in the face of change. In this blog we want to describe how specific games can interfere with business processes.

Strategic Planning:
One critical component of strategic planning is an objective assessment of the marketplace and the capabilities of the firm. Games have the potential to distort both.
No Bad News: Individuals present overly rosy communiqués; information flow from the external or internal world is optimistic or even falsified. This may result in over optimistic investment strategies for example.
Marginalize: Valuable information held by individuals who have been side-lined or blocked does not reach those who need to hear it.
The Boss Said: Information on the marketplace can be suppressed because of one individuals interpretation of what the CEO will think of this information.

Decision Making:
Games can subvert decision-making by creating environments that are not level playing fields, and therefore increasing subjectivity.
Old War Hero: the person who has “seen it all” blocks fresh ideas because of certainty about their failure. Over time this reduces the groups ability to propose new decisions.
Great Idea: favoritism of one player gives unjustified momentum to their proposals or inputs to decision making.
Token Involvement: the CEO or other senior leader has already made their mind up but pretends to seek involvement or input without really wanting it or listening to it.


Click here to see the original article on josseybassonleadership.typepad.com

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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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