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The tango of office politics

Office politics are like ill-mannered relatives. Nobody wants to deal with them, but most everyone has to.

Experts say detached managers, overly competitive employees, and power struggles worm their way into many workplaces. A survey released by OfficeTeam, a staffing service, found that more than a third of workers believe office politics has greatly increased compared with five years ago. Yet only 12 percent of executives acknowledged such a rise.

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"Many executives are somewhat removed from the day-to-day conflicts that can arise between employees and therefore may not be fully aware of challenges that can exist," says Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, based in Menlo Park, Calif.

To decrease tension, she recommends managers:

*Recognize teamwork. Praising the group reinforces the message that collaboration is integral to success.

*Make sure the rules of business etiquette apply to all employees, regardless of status.

*Check employee morale. Political issues take a toll on workers and can lead to higher staff turnover.

Still, experts say old-school cronyism and one-upmanship are giving way to personal achievement. "Workers today compete for schedules and projects," says Marilyn Moats Kennedy, a career coach, in a recent issue of Fast Company magazine. "Instead of power, people want assignments that build skills valued by the market. Learning experiences are what's really important."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society


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