The dynamics of most organizations are changing as time passes by. The workplace environment encompasses different people with different agendas. As a result, it is not possible for everyone to get what they want from the organization on its standard measure of performance. It has necessitated the evolution of politics within the organizational setting. People have the ability to pursue their agendas as they execute the designated activities at the same time. On most occasions, organizational politics do not work towards enhancing the greater good of the business. The ultimate objective is to benefit the select few spearheading the actions involved (Dlugos & Dorow, 2012). However, there are some organizations that use politics to bring about effectiveness and efficiency. This usually happens during organizational changes. Various stakeholders tend to be rigid during this period hence a need for varying mechanisms to help break the ice. Organizational politics have proved to be of great importance in instigating people to embrace change where they would not have obliged if the general workplace mechanisms were used.
Using misinformation to confuse others is a technique that is on the rise in most organizations. This is a political behavior that is being embraced by individuals with an objective of attaining one or two things at the workplace. This behavior is political in nature based on the approaches involved to ensure that it succeeds. Misinformation targets a critical aspect of the organization that involves communication. Communication is an integral resource in any organization. It is the tool that ensures all the departments have been coordinated in the best way possible. This is because effective communication channels ensure that the desired information flows towards the designated recipient (Dlugos & Dorow, 2012). Communication is also vital in ensuring that team building has prevailed within the workplace. How the managers communicate to their subordinates determines the nature of bonds developed, which are important while overcoming various adversities within the organizations. It also has a huge influence on employees’ morale. This means that anyone with the ability to control communication within the organization has some substantial influence on various activities being undertaken (Ferris & Treadway, 2012). As a result, misinformation can be used to pass undesired information that is not in the best interest of the organization, but aimed at fulfilling other people’s gratification.
Another aspect that qualifies the use of misinformation as a political behavior is the hierarchies involved in the process. Any organization has a reporting structure that ought to be adhered to on most occasions for the information to reach all the desired recipients. For an individual to pass any information they must be within this hierarchical structure. This is how politics gain root. There is someone giving out orders, but there are other individuals involved with the execution phase (Ferris & Treadway, 2012). Individuals at the top level are usually not involved with the direct dissemination of information. They normally use other top officials below their rank to ensure that their actions have prevailed. This is a similar case with regards to misinformation within the organization. It begins from a certain source that has various influences within the organization. Other people that are close to the source take on the information and pass it to the other people close to them. What makes this information spread faster is the fact that people derive it from other people that they may consider their superiors. As their superiors, it is usually assumed that they are well informed. Any information coming from them is deemed to be of great magnitude and factual for that matter (Klikauer, 2013). At the end of the day, junior employees end up carrying all the weight of this information and acting upon it as if it was true. This is a political aspect since people have depended on a hierarchical structure to base the credibility of the information being disseminated. They have believed and acted upon the information just because it has come from people they hold with high regard.
Another aspect that shows that the behavior is political in nature is the fact that propaganda is involved. Using misinformation to confuse others will require the use of propaganda now and then. This is a tool that most politicians all over the world use in order to get into the hearts of the people. They tell followers what they want to hear just for the sake of gaining politically. On most occasions, they are never honest in anything that they say. This applies to the aspect of using misinformation. The information being distributed is not true in nature. Be it good or bad, it has the objective of deceiving the recipients into believing whatever is being promulgated. Ultimately, the information being distributed is aimed at benefiting certain individuals in the organization. This is how the politicians play their cards. They usually have the bigger picture and are willing to use any technique at their disposal to achieve it.
When using misinformation to confuse others as an organizational politics strategy, there are several sources of power available. These sources are usually developed as a result of how the organization is structured and functions. Among the sources of power is decentralization. When an organization is decentralized, various departments become independent from each other. This makes the individuals responsible with running the departments have a high status among the employees involved in that department. Due to the decentralization, there is always a power struggle between various departmental leaders. Each of them wants to prove their worth to the organization. To some extent they aim at proving how superior they are compared to their counterparts (Buchanan & Badham, 2008). They all want to gain overall organizational recognition. As a result, they try to mobilize the support of their fellow departmental employees. Using misinformation becomes a key ingredient as a result. They bombard these employees with false information of how they stand to benefit if their leaders received the appropriate recognition within the organization. Employees in return provide them with the necessary support that they need to execute various actions.
Another source of power is disagreement on goals. Organizations experience instances whereby the top officials do not agree on certain matters affecting the organization. Among them are the goals that need to be attained. These aspects result to division among the top level managers. There are those inclined to certain opinions while others are opposed to them. The parties involved take the initiative of promoting their agendas among the junior employees. They are all determined to make the junior employees join their side regardless of the mechanisms used. The aspect of using misinformation to confuse them comes into play. Under this respect, the managers tend to pass around various theories regarding what their fellow colleagues are promulgating. The ultimate objective is to make their counterparts look bad in the eyes of the junior employees (Buchanan & Badham, 2008). This puts into doubt whatever propositions they bring on the table. They will be viewed as “enemies of the people” hence face the due opposition. The group that succeeds in convincing employees gains their support hence giving them the opportunity to institute various policies that they intended. Here, the managers have used misinformation to deceive employees to bestow them with power.
Another source of power arises when resources are scarce in the organization. This is when employees do not have enough to work with at given specific times. Scarcity might also come with regards to promotion opportunities. Such aspects are likely to cause division within the organization. There is an aspect of competition created hence every eligible employee views the other as an enemy. People are triggered to form alliances that will enable them to get to the top in light of the competition available. As a result, interested individuals tend to disseminate information that favors them while they demean their fellow competitors. This is because when one individual gain, the others tend to lose.
While spreading misinformation, various political strategies are used by the people involved. Among the strategies used is gossip. Gossip can be viewed as a mere social activity. However, individuals participating in organizational politics can use it to their advantage. Gossip becomes a strong political strategy since it gives the interested party the power to control the flow of information. This means that people will be talking about what these people want. The nature of information being passed will depend on the intentions of its sources. Gossip tends to work in favor of the people developing it since it brings some form of anticipation and anxiety. People already have a notion of what they anticipate to hear hence end up being selective on any other information that is provided contrary to that (Buchanan, 2007). It is usually easy for people to believe in gossip since the information is almost everywhere. Everyone in the organization is talking about the issue at hand hence, it becomes difficult to ignore it. The most social individuals within the organizations are usually targeted when this strategy is at play. These are the people that have been used to providing their colleagues with various news bulletins even before certain events have been confirmed. Such people have already created a favorable rapport with other employees when it comes to dissemination of information. Whatever they pass around is likely to be believed based on past experiences (Buchanan, 2007). Gossip also gives the people spreading misinformation an opportunity to hide behind the curtains in case anything goes soar. It is always exasperating to trace the origin since everyone will assert that they heard it from so and so. Occasionally, the people that face the consequences of “gossip gone wrong” are not the people that came with it in the first place.
Another political strategy that can be used to help spread misinformation within the organization is manipulation. This is a technique that can be prevalent in any form of relationship. This normally works when two people working in the same organization have different ranks. One of them has power over the other. As a result, the one with power has the ability to manipulate the other to indulge in spreading of misinformation. Junior employees will always oblige since they want to remain in good terms with the top level managers. There is fear of negative consequences accruing if they fail to oblige. They have to make others believe the information being distributed in order to maintain their status quo.
Other individuals resort to the formation of coalitions within organizations. This is for people that want to benefit as a group at the expense of others. The people involved here ought to have some form of influence within the organization so that they can have an opportunity to be involved in the coalition. People that do not add any value will rarely get involved in such coalitions. The coalition sets itself as part of a revolution that is determined to uphold the wellbeing of the organization including that of other junior employees (Buchanan, 2007). Gaining a favorable reputation helps such individuals to relay any message that they intend. This coalition normally works as individuals, but in reality they promote similar agendas. The mechanism is very effective in confusing others of their agenda.
Based on the preceding analysis, it is important to have appropriate political expertise in various organizations. There is no organization that should deceive itself that it does not have any politics taking rounds within its circles. The only facet that differs is the degree of politics in the organizations. One thing is for sure; organizational politics are here to stay. This means that they will dominate various businesses based on their structures and functions. The effect generated from these politics might be positive or negative depending on the motive of the individuals involved. Not all organizational politics are aimed at satisfying the needs of the chosen few at the expense of the organization. Some might work positively, more so when there are certain organizational changes taking place. Some employees tend to resist change even when it is meant for the good of the company. Politics might play a significant role in convincing them to buy into the ideas being brought forward (Buchanan & Badham, 2008).
Political expertise is needed in various organizations in order to help eradicate unhealthy politics such as using misinformation to confuse others for the sake of self-gratification. Involvement of experts would be effective in weeding out politics that are meant to derail the organization from attaining its objectives. The experts have the ability to identify various loopholes in the organization that provide people opportunities to exercise unhealthy politics (Buchanan & Badham, 2008). In the case of misinformation, political expertise would be beneficial in identifying the communication aspects that make this form of politics prevalent in the organization. Among the solutions that can be devised is the development of open communication. When open communication exists, every employee is aware of where to get any relevant information that they might need regarding the organization. This means that information from certain sources will be blocked. The aspect would make it difficult for strategies such as gossip and manipulation to be used as ways of spreading misinformation within the organization. Political expertise would also identify that provision of sufficient resources is vital in the elimination of organizational politics. This is because few individuals are not given the autonomy to control others as a result of extending favors with regards to access of certain resources. When it comes to competition of scarce resources in the organization such as attainment of promotions, it should be conducted on the basis of merit. This would reduce the reliance on politics for people that want to advance their careers within the organization. It would mean that performances are being measured as opposed to personalities (Dlugos & Dorow, 2012). Politics tend to make other people appear good on paper yet their performances within the organization tell a different story. Expertise would also help in the introduction of clear rules within the organization. On some occasions, unhealthy politics prevail due to the rules governing the organization. Some are ambiguous hence, people find a way of manipulating them without necessarily having to experience the consequences. Political expertise would also help in hiring employees that have low affinity to politics. It is easy for an individual with knowledge regarding politics to detect people that would become a menace on this scope. Time and again it has seemed quite relevant to say that “prevention is better than cure”.
However, political expertise employed by an organization should not only concentrate on the negative side of the politics. Some organizational politics have the ability of benefiting the organization in one way or another. Among the benefits of politics is that they can initiate organizational change when things become complex. Some time employees tend to resist change regardless of the benefits it would have to the organization. In such scenarios, healthy politics can be used to help the organization move forward. The aspect makes the need for political expertise even more important. The expertise would help in identification of the healthy politics likely to benefit the organization and hence promote them in the best way possible.
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Ferris, G., & Treadway, D. (2012). Politics in Organizations: Theory and Research Considerations. London: Taylor & Francis.
Klikauer, T. (2013). Managerialism: A critique of an ideology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Buchanan, D., & Badham, R. (2008). Power, politics, and organizational change winning the turf game (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.
Buchanan, D. (2007). You Stab My Back, I’ll Stab Yours: Management Experience And Perceptions Of Organization Political Behaviour. British Journal of Management, 7(4), 49-64.