'Office politics' can cost a day per week

Putting out fires can take a toll on a manager. American executives say they waste 19 percent of their time - nearly one day per week - dealing with company politics, according to a survey of 150 executives at major US firms by OfficeTeam, a California-based staffing service.

The bulk of that time is spent playing mediator, robbing executives of "time to devote to more critical aspects of their jobs, such as developing business strategy," notes Diane Domeyer, OfficeTeam's executive director.

Ms. Domeyer's suggestions for taking back some of that time:

Create an open environment so employees stay informed. Avoid closed-door meetings, which can trigger insecurity and speculation.

Seek integrity during the hiring process by asking for references on candidates' ethics and honesty. Frequently emphasize the value you place on these traits.

Eliminate office rivalry, since competition, while healthy up to a point, can also be divisive.

Delegate authority by choosing a member of your team who can be accessible when you're not.

Watch out for burnout, and ensure that assignments are fairly distributed among workers.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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