South African companies are now looking to hire employees who can play ‘politics’

While ‘politics’ was once a dirty word in business, the arena is currently undergoing a rethink internationally which is being reflected in the hiring patterns of South African companies.

This is according to Michelle Moss, director at Signium Africa, a locally based executive search and talent management company.

Moss said that local indicators show that job candidates are being told that their ‘political’ skills need attention, and that there is growing demand in the executive coaching arena for assistance with this aspect of personal development.

“Stalled careers are a key driver,” said Moss. “Long hours and impressive gains should have resulted in career recognition but haven’t. The individual then asks, ‘What more can I do?’The answer is ‘Learn to play the game’, and that game is corporate politics.”

However, Moss acknowledged that many employees are still somewhat embarrassed by the idea of politics at work, and that they often confuse politics with ‘brown-nosing’ and manipulation.

“They believe good people do not network for self-advantage. However, a good executive coach will point out that access, visibility and credibility are essential for personal and corporate success. Good ideas are useless unless they’re shared with decision-makers,” she said.

“By changing behaviour and creating favourable awareness, players make it easier for superiors to remember a face and name. Once the mindset has been adjusted, it is necessary to identify decision-makers and influencers; external as well as internal.

“Impress some clients or suppliers and the word may go all the way to the top of your own organisation.”

Moss added that these techniques involve no play-acting and superiors are not being deceived in any way.

“You have to be the real deal to make real progress, play the political game to win recognition. But remember; real winners always deliver results.”


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South African companies are now looking to hire employees who can play ‘politics’