Overcoming Power Struggles

Association of Business Training
November 11, 2013 — 931 views  

Power struggles are extremely common in business situations. Every time one or more employees are made to share power over each other or over others, a power struggle inevitably arises. This power struggle usually ends with one person extending his domination over the other, while the other person accepts defeat or withdraws from the confrontation. Such power struggles should be avoided in the first place. When they do arise, they can be overcome in various ways. The employees should do their best to ensure that power struggles are resolved as early as possible in their own interest.

Background

Employees in any organization try to find a comfort zone for themselves, where they are not threatened by others or by the work itself. This frequently leads to conflict with other employees because the employees are expected to work together and compromise, instead of acting in accordance with their own desires. This conflict often manifests in the form of power struggles. These power struggles can be explicit or implicit. Sometimes they are resolved quickly, but sometimes they can drag on for years.

Consequences

The consequences of a power struggle are bad for those who lose such a struggle because they get demoralized and their work productivity suffers. On the other hand, the winners of the power struggle may have to face even more power struggles in the future. This can be a drain of energy for the employees. In any power struggle, the interest of the company as a whole gets undermined. Thus the employees should try their best to see above their own interests and look at the big picture.

Resolving Power Struggles

The first way to reduce power struggles is to have a frank discussion about the situation. An open conversation always helps everyone who is involved with the situation. This can help to defuse the power struggle, because sooner or later one or more of the employees will reveal the real reason behind their motives and this will resolve the power struggle by gaining each other’s trust.

Power struggles are best resolved by knowing what exactly is at stake in the situation. All of those who are involved should realize that even if they lose, there’s not much that can happen to affect their own career and goals. Other ways include looking for employees who are incompatible with each other and placing them in different departments. However, this is a last resort and should be used when nothing else has worked.

Follow up Strategies

As a follow up, the employees should respect the reason for avoiding power struggles in the first place, which is the interest of the company. The interest of the company should come first, followed by the interest of the employees. The employees should respect boundaries. These boundaries should be established early in their relationships with the company and with other employees. This can be reinforced periodically by sending a gentle reminder to all of them.

In conclusion, it can be said that power struggles can be a drain on the resources of a business. It is best to avoid them in the first place. The responsibility is on the employees to ensure that power struggles never happen, and if they do, they should get resolved as soon as possible.

Association of Business Training