According to a recent survey by Menlo Park, Calif.-based OfficeTeam, more than one-third (36%) of employees polled said that office politics have increased greatly in the last five years. The survey also showed that only 12% of executives felt the same way. Why the significant difference? "Many executives are somewhat removed form the day-to-day conflicts that can arise [among] employees, and therefore may not be fully aware of challenges that can exist," explains Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. Domeyer also notes that greater productivity demands facilitated by advanced technology have resulted in a rise in the number of self-managed and cross-functional work groups. While there are benefits to a team-based structure, it is a breeding ground for opinion and personality conflicts. To help minimize conflicts, Domeyer suggests:
- Rewarding team results: Publicly recognize groups and individuals. Praising the entire team reinforces the message that collaboration is integral to success.
- Maintaining an open door policy: Make sure employees feel comfortable coming to you. Clear, two-way communication can diffuse potential problems.
- Avoiding creating the "Lone Superstar": Make sure the rules apply to all employees.
- Taking active steps to gauge morale: Check with employees regularly and offer help in solving problems. Political issues can take a toll on employee morale and ultimately lead to higher turnover.