A recent article in the Academy of Management Journal provides continued strong support for something I have said a lot here about the relationship between job satisfaction, commitment and employee performance, and adds to that by showing how perceptions of organizational politics negatively affects the mix. The article is a well designed research study that conducted a meta-analysis of 57 papers published in top peer-reviewed scientific journals.
We already knew the well defined, reliable, and valid concepts job satisfaction and organizational commitment are two of the best predictors of employee effectiveness. The meta-analysis in this study confirms that employee satisfaction and commitment (they call this morale) should enhance performance and reduce turnover.
This study also shows that when people perceive that illegitimate, self-serving political activities are present in the workplace, it affects their performance because it lowers their morale. Bad politics at work also stresses people out, and this study demonstrates that psychological strain resulting from a perception of organizational politics has an additional negative impact on employee effectiveness.
Leaders have to engage in politics to get things done. But the litmus test should be why they use politics. If political tactics are used to advance causes in the organization that serve to benefit everyone equally, then they are more likely to be seen as purposeful and legitimate.
But if the perception is that leaders are using politics for their own self-interest or showing favoritism that will benefit those in their inner circle, people are not going to respond well. Politics at work is a top and bottom line issue.
I consider this straight forward and very significant evidence-based advice.