A highly political work environment can be chaotic, ambiguous, and even threatening. Working in this type of environment distracts employees from achieving work-related goals and interferes with job performance. One employee resource related to improved job performance is political skill, described as the capacity to understand the people and situations at work in order to accomplish job-related goals. In a highly political work environment, what happens when politically skilled individuals work to reach their job-related goals?
THE RESEARCH STUDY
The authors examined the relationship between political skill and job performance under different political situations at work. They found that political skill was a significant predictor of job performance in an environment of low perceived politics. In other words, when a work environment is free of distracting perceptions of politics, performance is highest among individuals with political skill. These individuals are able to influence others in order to perform effectively at work. However, performance suffers regardless of the amount of political skill one has when the work environment is perceived as volatile or highly political.
This research has a few take-home points for organizations and managers. A highly political work environment hinders job performance, even among the most highly politically skilled employees. Organizational initiatives to encourage a collaborative and positive work environment will help employees perform their best. In addition, as previous research has shown, political skill continues to be beneficial to employee performance. Therefore, managers should provide opportunities to identify and expand political skill among employees.
Kapoutsis, I., Papalexandris, A., Nikolopoulos, A., Hochwarter, W. A., & Ferris, G. R. (2011). Politics perceptions as moderator of the political skill – job performance relationship: A two-study, cross-national, constructive replication. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 78(2), 123-135.