Power and conflict at work
In my opinion conflict is a tension between at least two person or sometimes between group of people who strive for different targets. Generally conflicts are regarded as a negative phenomenon. But sometimes they lead to a new solutions and discoveries.
Few days ago I worked with my colleagues in a football club. We were from the waiters’ agency. Our job was to serve the dinner for the guests. The girls from the staff where really unpleasant to us, they unwillingly helped us if we asked them for a help. We felt quite exploited because they ordered us what to do while they were doing almost nothing. We thought that they were behaving in this way because maybe they were afraid that we can work better than they and the manager would like to employ us instead of them. It was really bad atmosphere, we were fed up with it and we told the manager we had wanted go home. He was observing that situation and knew what was going on. Finally he reacted and told girls that they don’t have to worry about their own work because we are from the agency and just for this one party. After that the things got better but it wasn’t entirely good. Me and my friends hope it was the last time working in this place.
French and Raven in 1959 identified five main sources of power.
Coercive power is based on fear and subordinate’s perception that the leader has the ability to punish or to bring about undesirable outcomes for those who not comply with directives, for example, allocation of undesirable duties or responsibilities.
Reward power is based on the subordinate’s perception that the leader has the ability and resources to obtain rewards for those who comply with directives, for instance, pay, promotion, praise, recognition.
Expert power is based on the subordinate’s perception of the leader as someone who is competent and who has some special knowledge or expertise in a given are, for instance , the expert knowledge of ‘functional’ specialist such as the human resources manager or system analyst.
Legitimate power is based on subordinate’s perception that a leader has a right to exercise influence because of the leader’s role or position in the organisation. It is based on authority, for example that of managers and supervisors within the hierarchical structure of an organisation.
Referent power is based on subordinate’s identification with the leader. The leader exercises influence because of perceived attractiveness, personal characteristics, reputation or charisma. For example a particular manager may be not in a position to reward or punish certain subordinates , but may still exercise power over the subordinates because the manager commands their respect or esteem.
Organisations to overcome conflict at work should ensure good communication , consultation and involvement in decision making. They should provide employers with human resources management policies and procedures such as: equal pay, opportunities. Organisations have to clarify goals and objectives and ensure everyone is well informed what is expected of them in their job. They should also make sure that employees have the chance to grievances, have a grievance policy and procedures. They should ensure that there is a disciplinary procedure which everyone is aware of.
Mullins, L. (2010) Management & Organisational Behaviour. 9th ed. Harlow: Prentice Hall.