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Games At Work: How to Recognize and Reduce Office Politics

Book Description

A terrific read not only for senior leaders and executives but also for employees seeking growth in complex organizations. Goldstein and Read dissect the interpersonal dynamics that affect a company's performance, provide a framework to understand the games that are commonly played in businesses around the world, and offer practical tools to correct these behaviors and improve the organization's effectiveness.

Jacopo Bracco, executive vice president, DIRECTV Latin America

"Whether you are an employee, manager, or CEO, this book will help you uncover the games that are going on around you and in your organization and will arm you with strategies to combat the negative effects of these games."

Corey J. Seitz, vice president, global talent management, Johnson & Johnson

"This book is a good warning sign for organizational life. A road map of potholes and wrong turns. Written in a clear and down-to-earth way, its strength is its concreteness."

Peter Block, author, Community: The Structure of Belonging

"Play or don't play, your choice. But if you need to manage and aspire to lead, you must read Goldstein and Read's helpful treatment of the games going on all around you all the time. Prepare to be entertained and disconcerted in equal measure."

Seán Meehan, Martin Hilti Professor of Marketing and Change Management, IMD

"Goldstein and Read provide an accessible and penetrating discussion of the twenty-two most common games at work and their individual and organizational causes, business costs, and remedies. Every working person who has ever been a victim or perpetrator of political games will profit from reading Games at Work."

Harvey A. Hornstein, emeritus professor of psychology; former director of Columbia University Organizational Development Programs; and organizational consultant

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Foreword
  3. Introduction
    1. The Marginalize Game
    2. Games: An Under-The-Radar Problem
    3. What This Book Will Tell You and How it Will Tell It
    4. Who This Book is for and How to Use It
  4. 1. Let the Games Begin: What Games are and How They are Played in Organizations
    1. 1.1. The Theory and Practice of Games
    2. 1.2. The Traits: Signs and Symptoms that a Game is Being Played
    3. 1.3. The Names of the Games: What They are, How They're Played, and Why They're Harmful
      1. 1.3.1. Interpersonal Games
        1. 1.3.1.1. I1. Gotcha
        2. 1.3.1.2. I2. Marginalize
        3. 1.3.1.3. I3. Blame
        4. 1.3.1.4. I4. The Boss Said
        5. 1.3.1.5. I5. Big Splash Career Hopper
        6. 1.3.1.6. I6. Victim
        7. 1.3.1.7. I7. Gossip
        8. 1.3.1.8. I8. No Bad News
        9. 1.3.1.9. I9. Copy
        10. 1.3.1.10. I10. Pre-Deal
      2. 1.3.2. Leadership Games
        1. 1.3.2.1. L1. Gray Zone
        2. 1.3.2.2. L2. Keep Them Guessing
        3. 1.3.2.3. L3. No Decision
        4. 1.3.2.4. L4. Token Involvement
        5. 1.3.2.5. L5. Kill the Messenger
        6. 1.3.2.6. L6. Window Watcher
        7. 1.3.2.7. L7. Divide and Conquer
        8. 1.3.2.8. L8. Scapegoat
      3. 1.3.3. Budget Games
        1. 1.3.3.1. B1. Sandbagging
        2. 1.3.3.2. B2. Slush Fund
        3. 1.3.3.3. B3. Lowballed Baseline
        4. 1.3.3.4. B4. Quarterly Earnings
    4. 1.4. A Range of Attitudes: Game Consciousness
  5. 2. Playing to Lose: The Negative Impact of Games on Core Business Activities
    1. 2.1. A Finger-Pointing Environment
    2. 2.2. The Four Effects of Unmanaged Game Playing
    3. 2.3. Games—a Dirty Little Corporate Secret
    4. 2.4. Effect on Specific Leadership Functions and Tasks
      1. 2.4.1. Strategic Planning
      2. 2.4.2. Decision Making
      3. 2.4.3. Budgeting
      4. 2.4.4. Setting Objectives and Measuring and Rewarding Performance
      5. 2.4.5. Leading People
      6. 2.4.6. Driving Change
      7. 2.4.7. Self-Assessment
  6. 3. Fertile Ground: Why Games are So Pervasive in Modern Corporations
    1. 3.1. Coping Mechanism: A Response to Uncertainty
    2. 3.2. Internal and External Factors Foster Game Playing
      1. 3.2.1. Intense Pressure for Short-Term Performance
      2. 3.2.2. Sarbanes-Oxley and Other Rules and Regulations
      3. 3.2.3. The Virtual Environment
      4. 3.2.4. Organizational Climate
      5. 3.2.5. Distrust
      6. 3.2.6. Organizational Flattening
      7. 3.2.7. Hierarchical Structures
      8. 3.2.8. Performance Management and Categorization
    3. 3.3. Portrait of a Game-Playing Team
    4. 3.4. Assess the Impact of Trends and Events on Your Group's Games
  7. 4. Eyes Wide Shut: Why People Don't Deal with Games at Work
    1. 4.1. Four Reasons Not to Confront Games
      1. 4.1.1. Lack of Awareness
      2. 4.1.2. Payoffs
        1. 4.1.2.1. Affiliation
        2. 4.1.2.2. Power
        3. 4.1.2.3. Achievement
      3. 4.1.3. Rationalization
      4. 4.1.4. Fear
    2. 4.2. Why Aren't You Confronting Games at Work?
    3. 4.3. Bad Reasons, Good Excuses: Challenge Your Assumptions
  8. 5. An Eye-Opening Experience: Awakening to Games
    1. 5.1. Sleeping Beauty: A Trance-Like State
    2. 5.2. Warning Signs: Interpreting What Game Players in a Trance are Really Saying
    3. 5.3. Feeling Alarmed
    4. 5.4. Seizing the Opportunity: Accepting and Moving Forward
  9. 6. Count Me Out: Choosing Not to Play
    1. 6.1. Needs, Anxiety, and Choice
    2. 6.2. To Play or Not to Play: That is the Question
    3. 6.3. To Play: Opportunistic, Rationalizing, Internalizing
    4. 6.4. Not to Play: Exit or Choose Intimacy
    5. 6.5. A Choice You Make from Your Gut as Much as from Your Mind
    6. 6.6. Getting Ready for the Choice: Authenticity and Courage
  10. 7. Game, Interrupted: Executing Your Choice
    1. 7.1. Positive and Negative Forces: Increase One, Decrease the Other
    2. 7.2. Interrupting: Knowing the Points Where you can Intervene
    3. 7.3. The Steps for Interrupting a Game
      1. 7.3.1. Step 1: Write the Sequence of Stages for the Game
      2. 7.3.2. Step 2: Identify Where and How it Would be Easiest for you to Interrupt the Game
      3. 7.3.3. Step 3: Act When the Moment is Right
    4. 7.4. The Steps Toward Open and Ongoing Dialogue
      1. 7.4.1. Step 1: Initiate Tough Conversations
      2. 7.4.2. Step 2: Come to Terms with your Feelings
  11. 8. Interconnections: How Games are Linked in to an Ecology
    1. 8.1. The Invisible Links Between Connected Games
    2. 8.2. Identifying Your Game Ecology
    3. 8.3. A Diagnostic for the Game-Playing Aspect of a Culture
    4. 8.4. Organizational Games DNA
  12. 9. The Challenge of Change: Toward a Games-Conscious Model of Transformation
    1. 9.1. A Dual Negative Impact
      1. 9.1.1. Primary Effect: Organizational Games DNA Runs Counter to the Essential New Behaviors and Procedures of a Change
      2. 9.1.2. Secondary Effect: The Game Ecology Creates Inertia
    2. 9.2. Anatomy of a Change: An Example of Games DNA in Action
    3. 9.3. Overcoming Games DNA and Inertia
    4. 9.4. A Games-Conscious Model of Transformation
  13. 10. Games at the Top: The Impact of Playing in the Executive Suite
    1. 10.1. Why CEOs Play Games
      1. 10.1.1. Narcissism
      2. 10.1.2. Hubris
      3. 10.1.3. Paranoia
    2. 10.2. A More Pragmatic Approach
    3. 10.3. A New CEO Responsibility: Maintaining a Low-Game Environment
  14. 11. A Sustainable Goal: Transforming Organizations in Small but Significant Ways
    1. 11.1. The Evolution of Composite Corporation
    2. 11.2. Five Principles to Keep in Mind
  15. A. LIST OF GAMES
    1. A.1.
      1. A.1.1. Interpersonal Games (Played with Peers and Colleagues)
        1. A.1.1.1. I11. Hands Off
        2. A.1.1.2. I12. Hey Big Spender
        3. A.1.1.3. I13. The Realist
        4. A.1.1.4. I14. Old War Hero
        5. A.1.1.5. I15. Either-Or
        6. A.1.1.6. I16. World on My Shoulders
        7. A.1.1.7. I17. Entitlement
        8. A.1.1.8. I18. Persona Non Grata
        9. A.1.1.9. I19. Nonavailability
        10. A.1.1.10. I20. Stealing Credit
        11. A.1.1.11. I21. Home-Field Advantage
        12. A.1.1.12. I22. Public Challenge of Your Loyalty
        13. A.1.1.13. I23. Pampering a VIP
        14. A.1.1.14. I24. Smoke-Filled Rooms
        15. A.1.1.15. I25. Half-Truths
        16. A.1.1.16. I26. Deliberate Leak
        17. A.1.1.17. I27. Bcc
      2. A.1.2. Leadership Games (Played with Subordinates or Consultants)
        1. A.1.2.1. L9. Great Idea
        2. A.1.2.2. L10. Pecking Order
        3. A.1.2.3. L11. Quality Assurance
        4. A.1.2.4. L12. Pre-Alignment
        5. A.1.2.5. L13. Excess Preparation
        6. A.1.2.6. L14. Management Only by Objectives
        7. A.1.2.7. L15. No Bad Feedback
        8. A.1.2.8. L16. Not My Problem Anymore
        9. A.1.2.9. L17. Let's Not Rock the Boat
        10. A.1.2.10. L18. Central Approval
        11. A.1.2.11. L19. Hide Behind Written Documents
        12. A.1.2.12. L20. Selective Transparency
        13. A.1.2.13. L21. Vague Big Vision
        14. A.1.2.14. L22. Show Up Differently
        15. A.1.2.15. L23. Soothing Guilt
        16. A.1.2.16. L24. Bilateralism
        17. A.1.2.17. L25. Nepotism
        18. A.1.2.18. L26. Glossing Over
        19. A.1.2.19. L27. Populist
        20. A.1.2.20. L28. Overstrict Policies
        21. A.1.2.21. L29. Renamed Project
        22. A.1.2.22. L30. Rubber-Stamp
        23. A.1.2.23. L31. Spies
        24. A.1.2.24. L32. Outsourcing Management to Consultants
        25. A.1.2.25. L33. What I Want to Hear
      3. A.1.3. Budget Games
        1. A.1.3.1. B5. Pseudo Science
        2. A.1.3.2. B6. Supply-Date Management
        3. A.1.3.3. B7. Budget as Firing Tool
        4. A.1.3.4. B8(a). Saving Sales
        5. A.1.3.5. B8(b). Premature Sales Recognition
        6. A.1.3.6. B9. Channel Stuffing
        7. A.1.3.7. B10. Locked in Brainstorm
  16. REFERENCES
  17. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  18. ABOUT THE AUTHORS