How Startups Can Handle Power and Politics in the Workplace

Power and Politics in the Workplace

When it comes to an excellent startup environment, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

A team that listens to each other and prepares for unique moments will be able to stick together when times get tough. And the startup culture you create will define how your company adapts to the current era.

As a startup member, you may feel that your team is already tight-knit or at least friendly to each other. Over time, though, small disagreements can lead to big fallouts. Here’s how to take a proactive approach to power and politics in the workplace:

Distribute Power According to the Situation

Your startup may have a tradition or policy that only members of a certain status can vote on important decisions. This might have worked in the startup’s early stages, and it might make sense if the voting members are a good representation of the entire company, but there are situations where you might have to re-assess.

For example, if hiring changes have left only one person with voting power, you might want to switch to a different system.

Likewise, if three people have voting status, but two of those three are closely aligned in a way that diverges from the balance of the company, this could become a problem.

The employees of the startup should feel that the higher-ups are taking care of each individual situation, rather than staying rigid to a system that might create political division. You have to know that everyone is being heard. This will set the stage for a trusting workplace.

Yes, these discussions can be somewhat awkward. This is why it’s important to create a workplace environment that is ready for frank conversations.

Foster an Open Dialogue About Power and Politics in the Workplace

When you’re navigating the ups and downs of profits, expenses, and just staying afloat, workplace culture might be the furthest thing from your mind. But in times of high stress and pressure, a good workplace culture is what’s going to keep your company from falling apart.

You can accomplish this in a few different ways.

For example, you can have regular meetings on workplace culture. Or you can appoint a couple of representatives to survey your teammates and make everyone’s concerns heard. You can also strive for a culture of transparency.

Whatever method you go with, the important thing is that honest conversations should be a regular practice, not just something that comes out in times of high stress.

Harmony Doesn’t Mean Silence

One of the first steps to fight against workplace politics and stressful power dynamics is to acknowledge that they exist. It will do no good to act out of fear and try to quash any grumbling or difference of opinions.

Like any good relationship, you should take unrest in the workplace as an indicator of how to make the environment better for everyone. If you create a culture where people are afraid to publicly complain or disagree with others in the company, you’ll lead the way to secret conversations and resentment.

Don’t take every complaint or perceived ‘cliquey-ness’ as a problem you need to get rid of. In many cases, you can act to bring those issues to an open forum and respond in a concrete way.

Make sure you’re actually listening. Show your teammates that you’re paying attention, and not just going through the motions.

Let’s Get To It!

Power and politics in the workplace come up from time to time, but this doesn’t have to take over. With an open, honest approach, you can embrace differences while keeping everyone together.

For more tips on workplace culture for startups, take a look at our related articles! And let us know below if you have some wisdom to share with us.

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