The dark side of office politics (Guest commentary)

Too many organizations don’t practise what they preach
By Edmond Mellina
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/07/2006

Behaving with integrity and maximizing performance have emerged as core elements of organizational credo in commercial, government and non-profit sectors alike. At the same time, office politics remains as prevalent as ever. The big irony is that politics interferes severely with the quest for integrity and performance.

Politics is two-faced, so let me be clear: I am referring here to people playing “dark” politics, the kind driven by the search for personal gains. This is fundamentally different from people leveraging influence networks to reach the organization’s objectives. This is “light” politics. The intent of light politics is first and foremost the good of the organization, not personal benefits.

Engaging in light politics is not only laudable, but also critical to organizational success. That’s because in a constantly evolving economy, the ability to adapt is the key to surviving and thriving. And marshalling support for the necessary changes requires a significant amount of light politics.