Do you know anyone that admits to liking company politics? Really? I don’t know any.
Company politics exist usually because of one reason. That is that career (or agenda) advancement is achieved by means other than via merit or contribution. Essentially people get rewarded even when they don’t deserve it or don’t get rewarded when they do deserve it.
Interestingly it is sometimes the least political CEOs who run the most political organisations – many times without even knowing it. Perhaps they are out of their depth or play favourites. Inevitably it means that they do not reward based ONLY on merit. They will hand out pay rises, promotions or other benefits subjectively to keep people happy or to quieten louder, more political staff members. They react to staff “noise” rather than closely reviewing performance and the results produced. While this might seem to work (at least in the short term) what they are actually doing is alienating other staff who are less political but in fact may be stronger contributors. What they don’t seem to realise is that it is impossible to SUBJECTIVELY “treat” everyone the same, no matter how hard you try. Environments like these are fertile ground for corporate politics to take hold and flourish.
The only effective way to manage people is to base career advancement purely on merit and contribution and not on any other factor. Creating a WIN:WIN is key. That is, advancement should be based on achieving objective, measurable outcomes that create value for the organisation while providing career and financial opportunities for the staff. If your staff achieves the agreed outcomes then they should get rewarded. If they don’t then they won’t. It should be black and white and unambiguous.
Make this clear in your organisation (via position descriptions, performance agreements, incentive structures career development plans and a disciplined review process) and you will rid yourself of any politics that exist. It takes time and effort to put it in place and discipline to maintain it. So what? What other choice do you (really) have?