Administering the antidote to office politics

David Taylor

Inside Track

People will only work their hardest when they actually want to. Carrots and sticks both play their part...

David Taylor

Inside Track

People will only work their hardest when they actually want to. Carrots and sticks both play their part in encouraging diligence among staff, but unless people choose to deliver their best they will simply not do so.

To make this choice, people must identify closely with the culture, values and vision of their department, their organisation and each other. The deeper the identity, the more productive the relationship, harmony and bonding between a company and its people.

This inner sense of loyalty is hugely powerful in shaping the culture, success and future of every IT department and company. When achieved the benefits are extraordinary - way beyond high retention and excellent delivery, to a sense of community and purpose.

Loyalty to each other is the most powerful antidote to office politics and blame cultures. People need to realise that they can be both accountable and make mistakes on their road to success. Learning from these mistakes is far more likely to happen when people help each other out, and do so when they most need it.

At the heart of loyalty is leadership. Leaders must set the example, and when they have done so, must live it and act it through - when you do this, the loyalty of your people will be automatic.

Building such a loyalty-driven culture is not easy, but you owe it to your company, your people and yourself to place it high on your agenda this year. All of the new technology in the world will come to nothing without the ideas, the drive and energy of people.

Indeed, in a year when so many people will talk about e-commerce, it is worth noting that the Academy of Chief Executives (ACE) has placed leadership as their top priority. Without it, many companies will not survive.

There are many differences between being a manager and being a leader. Key among these is that a leader inspires loyalty based on who they are and what they do, not their job title or size of office.

People who work in such cultures feel such a bonding with their organisation that they could easily be working for themselves in their own companies. That is true alignment.

Build a culture that values all of your people, and places them at the heart of your department, and company.

  • Begin by encouraging open and blame-free debate within your immediate team, draw out everyone's contributions, their hopes, fears and ideas for the future
  • Be a visible leader, talk and listen to people - learn their names
  • Consult widely and put in place a set of values that everyone can identify with - and be sure to include fun as one of them
  • Catch people doing something right and openly praise them, while taking personal responsibility for everything that goes wrong.
  • Those who set aside the traits and trappings of management and hierarchy, and become true leaders, will own the future. Forget Belbin and the other teamworking fads and theories, it is when people work hard for each other that true, total and long-term teamwork is achieved. That is when people, and organisations, become an unstoppable force.

    David Taylor is president of the association of IT directors Certus

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