Turf wars are a well-known fact of life in many organizations. Lesser known, but far more destructive, are positioning wars – struggles by two or more opponents for the top spot in an organization. Turf wars aren’t any fun. But they’re mostly defensive – people trying to protect their turf from encroachment by a real or imagined rival. Positioning wars are far more aggressive and destructive. They involve a fight to become No. 1 immediately or, at least, the heir-designate to whoever’s in charge now.
Turf battles often lead to bureaucratic slowdowns. Positioning wars can ruin the very kingdom being fought over.
To read the rest of this article from the Dallas Business Journal, see: Positioning wars can ruin a business http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2007/04/30/smallb2.html
Imagine the consequences when two powerful, competent princes, who run different operational units, fight to determine who’ll inherit when the king retires:
- Political in-fighting takes precedence over vision, mission, productivity or clients. Good staff stops trying to make a productive difference. Meetings degenerate into skirmishes. Soap opera flourishes.
- The princes circle each other like birds of prey seeking to uncover hidden agendas. Unofficial power centers are established. The princes’ teams reflect their antagonism. They focus on the faults of the other team and the hidden meanings behind looks, words and deeds. They score trivia points by publicizing the other faction’s setbacks or their own minor victories.
- Innocent bystanders aren’t safe. Neutral parties are inevitably drawn into choosing sides. Tension and terror activate childhood coping strategies. Everyone watches their words more carefully than their productivity.
- Bad apples suck up to each prince looking for protection and power. Slackers try to turn their protector against managers who pressure them to be more productive.
- Previously productive people become double agents or assassins. Even within teams, suspicion prevents aligned, concerted effort.
- Clients are ignored or entangled in alliances.
Positioning wars are even more debilitating if the princes had previously been able to work together effectively. Most people don’t adapt effectively to the dramatic change in environment. They’re blindsided, feel victimized and waste time bemoaning their undeserved fate.
Competition stimulates creative juices and inspires outstanding achievement. But cut-throat, internal war inevitably scorches the land. If you’re still the king, act decisively to aminimize destruction from the princes’ fighting.
Positioning wars create the same symptoms. Performance decreases. Behavior sinks to the lowest level tolerated. Narcissists, incompetent, lazy, gossip, back-stabbing, manipulation, hostility, crankiness, meeting sabotage, negativity, relentless criticism, whining, complaining, cliques, turf control, toxic feuds, harassment, bullying and abuse thrive. Power hungry bullies take power.
Don’t waste your valuable people time on slackers. You won’t make things better being a peacemaker.
Begging, bribery, endless praise, appeasement, endless ‘second chances,’ unconditional love and the Golden Rule usually encourage more harassment, bullying and abuse. Stop emotional bullies and stop bullying.
High standards protect everyone from unprofessional behavior. You can learn to eliminate the high cost of low attitudes, behavior and performance.