What’s Office politics?

During my work and travels in different parts of India I have often heard the word ‘politics’ in offices that had no resemblance to any political office – no political flag, leader, volunteer, manifesto etc. They were conventional offices where people worked and there, ‘politics’ was the term used to describe everything from favouritism, corruption to irregularities.

Politics always seemed to me a vague term and the closest definition I could figure out for myself was ‘misuse of power by an individual or group to further their self interest’. To know what the world out there thinks of it, I put the question “What is politics in office?” to google search today and it came up with the following definition:

Office politics” are the strategies that people play to gain advantage, personally or for a cause they support. The term often has a negative connotation, in that it refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good.

That’s a definition I find quite relevant to life everywhere and I felt interested to read more about Office politics. The following texts are a few I selected from articles I read on the topic on different websites. Most websites partly or fully justify Office politics and are full of advices on how to play it but I have excluded such texts. However, to serve as a sample there is just one at the beginning of this compilation.

Positive or negative – politics happens. The philosopher Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” And this hold true today in the workplace: If you don’t participate in the political game, you risk not having a say in what happens and allowing people with less experience, skill or knowledge to influence the decisions being made around you.                                

                                                                        Dealing with office politics

(Amen! While reading the following selections you may substitute ’employee/worker’ with ‘volunteer’ and ‘business/company’ with ‘work place’ for better sense of relevance.)

Overall, 55 percent of employees say they partake at least somewhat in office politics, with most of those doing so to advance their careers. The study found that 76 percent of workers believe that office politics affect their efforts to get ahead, up from 56 percent who felt that way in 2012.

Gossiping and spreading rumors is the most popular form of office politicking within their company, with 46 percent of employees saying it is the behavior they see most often. Gaining favor by flattering the boss, taking credit for others’ work and sabotaging co-workers’ projects are among the other, more common forms of office politics employees say they witness. 

                                                                     6 Types of office politicians

Personal relationships amongst employees can sometimes also lead to politics. Politics arises when individuals go all out to support their friends, relatives or neighbours at the workplace. One should never mix business with personal life. Your team member might be your best friend, but at work he needs to be treated just like others. No special favours should be granted to him.

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One should always have a control on his tongue at the workplace. Speak relevant and don’t always find fault in others. Listen to what the other person has to say. Everyone’s opinion is important. One should learn to own his responsibilities.

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Manipulating information to mislead superior also leads to politics at the workplace. One should pass on information in its desired form.

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Politics also arises when employees are indulged in unnecessary gossips. Leg pulling, criticism, backstabbing, hatred lead to politics. A jealous employee would never want his fellow workers to do well.

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Criticism increases as a result of office politics and people tend to crib more.

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People willing to come in the limelight without much effort depend on politics.

                                                                    Management Study Guide

It (Office politics) majorly affects the relationship amongst the individuals. Friends turn foes due to politics. People stop helping and most importantly trusting each other.

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Office politics should be looked at as something that can be reframed into a positive, says Williams. “You should work to contribute to a culture at your company that values people and discourages abusing people in any form,” he says.

The best way to do this is to praise others, encourage teamwork and be empathetic to your co-workers. By making an effort to change the culture to one of kindness and honesty, you can create a better environment for everyone.                                

                                                                  Change the culture from within

winning-office-politics-roby-vincent-4-638

Indian states unite for GST

From today same tax rates will be applicable to services and goods regardless of in which part of India they are purchased, excepting the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). J&K which failed to meet the June 30 deadline to pass the necessary bill in its Assembly is expected to do so on 6th July. Earlier, each of India’s 29 states and 7 Union Territories had the power to tax goods and services at their discretion which caused constant problems while transporting goods from one state to another. The transportation suffered delays and extortion by officials manning the check posts. GST allows easy flow of all goods and services across state borders – excluding alcohol, petroleum products and electricity.

Analysts say the move towards GST was initiated by the central govt. as early as 1986 but has taken about 30 years to become a reality. At a special midnight gathering at the Parliament last night (30 June 2017) to rollout the GST, Prime Minister Shri. Modi said the credit for the rollout went to all the governments involved since the beginning. It is perhaps the only occasion in independent India when all the states unitedly accepted such a far-reaching reform through passing an amendment to the Constitution in the Parliament and approving a supporting bill in each State Assembly.

When Shri. Modi’s cabinet initiated steps in December 2014 to amend the Constitution to be followed by getting at least 16 states to pass the supporting bill in their Assemblies, it seemed like an excessively optimistic move because the upper house of the Parliament and majority Assemblies of States and Union Territories of India were under the control of opposition parties. The momentum suffered initial setbacks but once the constitution amendment got passed in the Parliament and the GST Council consisting of finance ministers of all the states was set up in 2016, there was light at the end of the tunnel. The Finance Minister of India, Shri. Arun Jaitely announced in January the GST rollout date as the 1st July 2017. He had to concede ground to take everyone on board resulting in a GST having four different tax rates whereas the norm is usually just 1 or 2, in other countries. It also has the tax rate of 28% which is highest among countries with GST. Just hours before last midnight the GST Council announced a reduction of tax for fertilisers from 12% to 5% and more tinkering is likely as the council is scheduled to meet every month.

What an expert wrote in 2014 seems to hold true: “The India GST case is structured more around efficient tax collection, reduction in corruption, easy inter-state movement of goods, etc.” To achieve these goals the states have consciously sacrificed their power to tax and the centre has agreed to compensate the states for revenue loss, up to 5 years.

GST rollout, like the demonetization of November 2016 could lead to serious difficulties for small businesses, if not for common man, because most of the small businesses have been operating below the tax radar and just 1 % of Indians pay Income Tax. Now, all businesses having an annual turnover of more than Rs. 20 lakhs have to maintain records of transactions, submit forms to govt. and pay taxes. How people as a whole will react to the GST regime remains to be seen. Some analysts have called it a gamble that might make or mar Shri. Modi’s re-election bid in 2019. His Finance Minister’s insistence on bringing more people under tax net through the strict administration of income tax, now combined with the GST regime may lead to more people getting the bitter taste of the Indian financial bureaucracy and has the potential to spread popular disillusionment leading to loss of popularity for Modi government. That would be unfortunate because his government has shown the will to take risks and try big reforms in the country’s governance. Perhaps a more stringent tax administration may be a necessary transitory phase before the idea of governance with minimal taxes, unimaginable now with the defence sector demanding the major part of the national budget, finds acceptance in the national mind. Self-sufficiency in defence production may also be necessary before that happens. Not surprisingly, some of the opposition parties led by the Congress party boycotted the GST rollout function last night.

The Indian media is busy with reports of what became dearer and cheaper in India from today, the day the GST came into force realising the idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’. While that may be interesting and important they ought to highlight that the historic day was made possible by the unity of all states and union territories for which India of 1.3 billion people with diverse languages and political leanings can be justifiably pleased.

Sources:

Chronology: GST’s 17 year roller coaster ride, Rediff.com

Compensation to states for revenue loss under GST, Tax Management India.com

Formation of GST Council…, DNA India

Infographics: BJP Vs. Congress in 2014 and 2016, Times of India

GST Council sets exemption threshold for tax at Rs. 20 lakhs, The Hindu