Organizational Behaviour Chapter 7

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Chapter 7
Power and Politics
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Power
• A capacity to influence the behaviour of others
• It is a potential that need not be actually used
• It is also a function of dependency. If a person is
dependent on another, then the other has power over the
first
• Leaders use their power as a means to achieve a goal
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
5 Sources of Power
• Coercive Power – probably the most primitive source of
power, but most often used, and most difficult to control.
– It is a power that is dependent on fear
• Reward Power – the opposite of Coercive Power
– People comply with the wishes of another because it produces
positive benefits
– Reward can be offered in the form of financial, but also friendship,
praise and acceptance (Maslow’s third level need)
• Legitimate Power – the power a person possesses as a
result of their position in the organization
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
5 Sources of Power
• Expert Power – power possessed because of a specific
knowledge, skill, expertise or experience an individual has
– As the world has become more technical, this power source has
grown
• Referent power – Power resulting to a person because of
desirable characteristics or resources
– It develops out of admiration for the power holder
– Celebrities endoursing a product in commercials are a prime
example of leveraging this source of power
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
About the 5 Sources of Power
• Of course, power is only given to the extent that the level
of dependence is present
– Individuals seek to minimize dependence by expanding their
options (businesses source multiple suppliers and customers,
individuals seek education to widen their attractiveness to
prospective employers)
• The least effective sources of power are Coercive,
Legitimate and Reward
• Effective leaders leverage referent power and expert
power.
– These are more personal forms of power achieved through
interrelations with others
• Q: Which of these sources do you possess?
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
7 Ways to Increase Your Power
• Be reasonable – use facts and data to build a position then
reason from it
• Be friendly – Create goodwill and good relations
• Build coalitions – Get the support of others who possess a
similar view point
• Bargain – Negotiate for the exchange of benefits (to
minimize dependency)
• Be assertive – A little more directly forceful
• Seek higher authority support – provides leverage
• Leverage sanctions – use organizationally derived rewards
or punishments and the threat of them to cause action
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Empowerment
• Empowerment is the ability and freedom of employees to make
decisions and commitments
– To some degree, boundaries are set around where employees can make
decisions, and empowerment seeks to expand them
• Empowered employees exhibit 4 characteristics
–
–
–
–
Self-determination – free to choose their work
Sense of meaning – feel their work is important
Sense of competence – confident in their ability to do the work
Sense of impact – believe they can influence their work unit, team or
organization
• Empowerment benefits management because
– it reduces management work load
– Places decision making power in the hands of those often better equipped
to make decisions
– Provides significant motivation and learning opportunities for employees
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Empowerment
• Empowerment increases as employees or teams are given
more power over their job context (reason for the job) and
job content (tasks)
• Empowered employees are expected to act as owners of
the business
• Levels of Empowerment
– No discretion (usually for routine, low skilled jobs)
– Task setting – employee can determine how the job gets done
– Participatory – some decision making power over job
context/content
– Mission defining – groups set broad goals for a project
– Self-management – Total decision making power
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Coalitions
• A coalition is an informal group bound together by the
active pursuit of a single issue
• Successful coalitions contain fluid membership and act
swiftly to achieve their goals
• Coalitions will seek to maximize their size and are more
likely to be created when there is a resource shortage or
dependence
• Coalitions tend to be created when tasks are routine as well
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Abuse of Power
• Harassment – the abuse of a power position
• Great examples of abuse of power are in the recent Nortel,
Enron and WorldCom cases.
– Executives abused their ability to affect perceived organizational
performance through the use of financial reporting tools
• Sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome behaviour of
a sexual nature in the workplace that negatively affects the
work environment or leads to adverse job related
consequences for employees
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Politics
• Politics is present when employees convert their power
into action
• Political behaviour is that activity that attempt to influence
the distribution of advantages and disadvantages within an
organization
• It becomes most notable when it is outside the actor’s
direct job responsibility
• Q: How political is your place of work? Why?
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Why do politics exist?
• Organizations are made up of people with differing values,
goals and interests
• Resources are limited which causes action to resolve the
shortage resulting in conflict
• Facts used to allocate resources are open to interpretation.
– Tainting the facts, or concentrating on those facts that support an
individual’s needs is possible in a world where there is always
ambiguity
– An example of limited resources are promotions (assuming there is
limited opportunities for promotion)
• The less trust there is in an organization, the more politics
• Unclear performance evaluations promote politics
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Rules for Politics
• Fast Company Magazine’s Rules for Politics:
– Nobody wins unless everybody wins (we’ll discuss why next
chapter)
– Don’t just ask for opinions, change them
– Everybody expects to be paid back
– Success can create opposition (what goes around comes around)
• Chapter 8
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
Organizational Behaviour
Dave Ludwick, P.Eng, MBA, PMP
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