It was established in the literature review that researchers consider that political skill needs to be exercised in a social environment. This is consistent with experience in that in most cases, there is a strong need to influence individuals which, aside from logical reasoning, is as social interaction.
From our research, it appears that the social aspects of political skill are not being recognised by practising managers. This was demonstrated by the fact that of the bottom 10 ranked items (of the total 55), 5 included the word “social”.
Further insight was gained into this aspect during the qualitative interviews. Many interviewees noted that social skills were not valued by senior management. In the current pressured environment, output is what is important rather than how you get it. Several reacted with the sentiments that “business is harsh” and “time is money”. This corresponds well to the preceding discussion regarding the lack of criticality placed on understanding. One even went so far as to say that we “don’t have time for social niceties here!”
This was expanded by others who responded with “we don’t have time for lunch or golf, cutting the deal is what’s important” and “socialising at work is just work, I keep my personal life separate”. This latter comment seems to suggest an element of doing it just for the job, which is highly likely to be perceived as insincere.
It was also noted that the appearance of this lack of recognition may in part be due to the UK focus in our research. One lady commented that in other European countries higher value was placed on social interactions in the national culture.
The combination of what we found during the literature review, the survey data and the qualitative interviews leads us to the conclusion that, in the current workplace, individuals are under significant pressure to perform and are minded to downplay the importance of sincere social interactions in pursuit of short-term tactical gains. What appears to be missing from their approach is a true appreciation for the benefits to their work of applying sufficient focus to the social aspects of political skill.