By Ted Stephenson (auth.)
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Extra resources for Management: A Political Activity
These take a number of forms : there is the request for organisational aid where a subordinate has a problem elsewhere in the firm and needs the power and authority of his senior manager to help resolve it; there is the situation where a subordinate asks for technical aid knowing that his manager has entree to sources of experience and expertise located in different parts of the firm; there is the subordinate's request for information as to how well he is doing, or for assistance in a personal matter or for support in an application for promotion or transfer, all of which may require contact with other departments .
He may also be involved when the issues at stake may lead to a substantial shift in power; for example, when a firm is being restructured and when new information systems are being installed. The consultant is involved in a series of advisory and monitoring relationships in which he operates in a political situation, subsumed in a rational framework. However, ifhe is to be effective he has to define problems in his own terms in order to be seen to be objective; if he fails to do this he will be too obviously a part of the organisational contest for power and control and his credibility will suffer.
For any manager to break into agenda making, he must have an issue that is so widely recognised as significant that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to keep it off the agenda of discussion. In addition he must build up an adequate groundswell of support by demonstrating to sufficient people, who together have power, that it is in their own interests to get the matter discussed. He has to build a coalition. The astute political manager always thinks in terms of the ripeness of the issue.