Another update from the Jungle…
The anticipation is killing everyone in the office—except Kate. Two months ago, her boss Steve announced he was finally retiring (and about time, according to some co-workers). Now, several co-workers are desperately campaigning for his job.
Kate doesn’t want the job. She has years of supervisory experience, but she’s no longer interested in riding herd on a bunch of people who are used to doing whatever they want. She still intends to enjoy the show as others compete to replace Steve; corporate succession fights are as ferocious as mixed martial arts fights, only with fewer rules.
Matt shows up every day in neatly pressed slacks and a shirt, instead of his usual t-shirt and jeans. He’s even traded in his dirty sneakers for a less battered pair of loafers. He is sucking up to the Board of Directors with gift cards, lunch dates and leather-bound notebooks extolling his brilliance.
Matt doesn’t know that Walter anonymously forwarded to every board member a video from an old Christmas party of Matt gyrating around the dance floor modeling various women’s garments. Walter had saved a copy for an emergency just like this. Walter doesn’t want the job; he just doesn’t want Matt to get the job.
Meanwhile, Kim bustles around clutching her iPad with a thoughtful frown. She’s trying to look authoritative, which isn’t easy to pull off when you’re barely five feet tall and weigh less than a fully-grown German shepherd. She proclaims to everyone that it’s time a woman was given the job.
Her pitch spooks the board chair into believing she’s a militant feminist out to destroy older white men such as himself.
Every morning, Kate braces for the stream of excited co-workers who stop by to tell her their theories on who should replace Steve. Their gossip updates Kate on the shifting alliances among her co-workers.
How should Kate respond to all the gossiping?
- She can pack a sandwich and a six-pack to enjoy while she watches her co-workers destroy each other.
- She can take notes so that she has more material for the bodice-ripper novel she hopes will make her rich and famous.
- She can remain the confidante of her co-workers, functioning as a safety valve for the emotional rollercoaster that happens during succession battles.
In the actual situation, an outsider was hired to replace “Steve” leading to an exodus of disappointed internal applicants, and a new round of alliances to win favor with the new guy. Office politics will remain a standard workplace feature as long as human nature remains the same.
HR can mitigate the damage caused by office politicking by encouraging senior management to set clear criteria on the qualifications and process for hiring.
If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.
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