CONFRONTING COMPANY POLITICS

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1 CONFRONTING COMPANY POLITICS

2

3 Confronting Company Politics Beverley Stone MACMILLAN Business

4 Beverley Stone 1997 Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1P 9HE. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The author has asserted her right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act First published 1997 by MACMILLAN PRESS LTD Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS and London Companies and representatives throughout the world ISBN ISBN (ebook) DOI / A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources Copy-edited and typeset by Povey-Edmondson Tavistock and Rochdale, England

5 It took me a long time to realise that my parents were different. They encouraged me and my three brothers to trust ourselves, question authority, be honest, stay focused, be courageous and act. They encouraged us to live an existential life. They also believed with all their hearts that the main purpose of every adult is to make the world a better place for the next generation and they worked hard towards this end. My mother, whom I admire greatly, continues to do so. This book is therefore dedicated to mum and dad and to my wonderful and authentic daughters, Zelda and Becky, our future generation of existential change agents.

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7 Contents Acknowledgements xi 1 Is Company Politics Strangling Your Business, and You With It? 1 The nature of company politics 1 Organisation culture and company politics 2 Personal versus organisational goals 5 Company politics as negative behavioural norms 5 The argument for strong leadership 7 Individual responsibility for action 9 Using potential in a hostile environment 10 It's a tough journey 11 Confronting company politics through existential awareness 12 2 Can Personal Responsibility be a 'Detachable Burden'? 14 The implicit contract of a culture of non-cooperation 14 Effects of company politics 15 Attempts to reverse the culture 15 Responsiblity - a 'detachable burden'? 18 Responsibility - an existential definition 19 The risk of confrontation 20 3 Why Play Politics and Why Acquiesce? 22 Why play politics, and why acquiesce? 22 Fear and ego management 24 Catastrophic fantasies 26 Developing an existential approach to long-term change 27 Confronting company politics through existential awareness 30 4 Taking Action in a Hostile Environment 32 Creating the ideal environment 32 The humanistic concept of self-actualisation 33 The humanistic approach in practice 34 The change programme - the existential approach 40 The existential approach - the moral challenge 41 Comparison of humanistic and existential approaches 44 The existential approach to maintaining momentum 46 vn

8 Contents Am I an Existentialist? 47 Am I an existentialist? 47 Existential model of change 50 Choosing between existential anxiety and existential guilt 54 Wasting our life by playing safe 55 In sum 57 If Freedom of Choice is Only 'an Illusion', Why Encourage Autonomy? 60 Assumptions about human nature and how people learn 60 Basic assumptions and management style 63 The assumption of determinism 64 The assumption of freedom 66 In sum 68 Confronting the Cycle of Group Dynamics and Company Politics 70 'Everything was going fine, and then someone had a. feeling* 70 The three circles model of group dynamics 71 Satisfaction of one need affects performance of the other two 72 Raising group dynamic issues 73 'Team spirited' versus 'mean spirited' 74 In sum 87 How does Company Politics Start? 89 How does company politics start? 89 The need for power and control 89 Competition and culture 91 The need for recognition 92 Ego defence mechanisms 94 Issues with authority 96 Followers' ambivalence about leaders 99 Leaders' ambivalence about followers 99 Internal rules about authority - the double bind 99 Authority issues in groups 103 Process review isn't easy 106 In sum 106 The Phenomenological Approach and Action 107 Abandoning belief in authority and truth 107 Active participants in the 'truth' 110

9 Contents IX 'You are you and I am Y 111 Don't procrastinate! 111 In sum We Hypnotise Ourselves with Our Own Language 113 Accepting personal responsibility for behaviour 113 Hypnotising yourself with your own language 114 Taking responsibility for your own behaviour 115 We feel what we think 117 Taking responsibility for your own feelings 118 Regaining power and control 120 In sum Confronting Politics - The Stress of Inaction - The Anxiety of Action 123 Stay in the 'here and now' 123 Three zones of awareness 124 Fruitful and destructive fantasy 126 How to stay in the 'here and now' 127 In sum The Difference between 5^(^-Actualising and Self-image Actualising 129 Preoccupation with ourself 129 Don't impress - be impressed 132 In sum The Conflict is Within, not Without 135 Being passionate 135 Daydreaming about the past 136 Daydreaming about the future 136 Being cold and robotic 138 Unconscious feelings and desires block our actions 139 The conflict is within us, not without 141 Shifting our inner conflict to an open conflict 142 Can do/can't do 143 We are full of opposites 144 In sum 144

10 X Contents 14 So Your Indecision is Final? 147 Shallow agreements and company politics 147 To know and not to act is not to know at all 148 Why is it so difficult to make decisions? 149 Straining forward with the foot on the brake 150 Alternatives exclude 151 The delusion of specialness 152 Seeing yourself from a different perspective 153 You're on your own 154 Existential guilt 155 I am able but unwilling 156 In sum How Do I Do It? 158 Inverting the iceberg 158 The escalation of company politics 160 It's like being in the middle of a battleground 161 You're on your own 162 Cross the Rubicon, or stay the same 164 How do I do it? 165 Existential education 166 And still people say: 'Yes, but how do I do it?' 170 In sum 170 References 172

11 Acknowledgements This book consists of my reflections on organisational life which began as an 'outsider' at nursery school as I watched and wondered at the leadership style and resultant climate of the teachers and headmistress! So first I wish to thank all those with whom I have had the fortune or misfortune to learn, work or socialise with, especially those who have been so honest and open about their feelings and thoughts during the years. I am particularly grateful to Eric Hall and Arthur Worster who helped me travel the uncomfortable path from my first science-oriented degree to their experiential master's degree where all my intuitions and philosophical readings started to take on a pragmatic shape in the form of existential psychology. I also want to thank my brother Brian and sister-in-law Linda for their empathy and encouragement, particularly in providing their home for a couple of weeks which gave me the peace I needed to break the back of the book. And my brother Andrew for his unswerving faith in my ability and continual support. And my brother Robert who, though I was a late starter in academia, always had faith in my common sense. The completion of this book would have been much more painful had I not had the help of Peter Scawen in my last month of writing when the mere thought of completing the final chapters left my whole mind and body screaming "Who Cares"! Not only did Peter help me remain convinced that what I had to say was worth saying but he hung in there day after day as a sounding board, either paraphrasing my excited ramblings, working through our mutual client experiences to illustrate points or giving me the encouragement to stop anaesthetising my wellworn phrases in the attempt to make them sound more 'literary'. Peter also spent many hours transferring my models to the PC, still a source of wonder to me, and reading through the manuscript providing reminders and observations which I invariably incorporated into the book. I am sincerely grateful to Stephen Rutt, my editor whose advice was so spot on that each time I received some feedback it provided me with the spurt of enthusiasm I needed to continue writing. Finally, I want to thank my mother, Zelda, Becky, my clients and my many colleagues who by ceaselessly asking 'Have you written the book yet?' encouraged me to do so at last. One less regret on my deathbed! BEVERLEY STONE XI

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