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It is the potential ability of a person or group to influence another person or group. It is the ability to get things done the way one wants them to be done. Both formal and informal groups and individuals may have power; it does not need an official position or the backing of an institution to have power. Influence can take many forms. One person has influenced another if the second person's opinions, behavior or perspectives have changed as a result of their interaction. Power is a factor at all levels of most organizations. It can be a factor in almost any organizational decision. POWER AND AUTHORITY Sometimes power and authority is used synonymously because of their objective of influencing the behavior of others. However, there is difference between the two. Power does not have any legal sanctity while authority has such sanctity. Authority is institutional and is legitimate. Power, on the other hand, is personal and does not have any legitimacy. But stilt, power is a crucial factor in influencing the behavior in organizational situation. Sources of Power John R. P. French and Bertram Raven identified five bases or sources of power: legitimate, reward, coercive, expert and referent power. Legitimate Power A person's position within organization provides him with legitimate power. The organization gives managers the power to direct the activities of their subordinates. Legitimate power is similar to formal authority and hence it can be created, granted, changed or withdrawn by the formal organization. The structure of the organization also identifies the strength of the legitimate authority by position location. For instance, higher-level positions exercise more power than lower-level positions in a classical hierarchical organizational structure. Organizations vary in how much legitimate power they grant to individuals. In such organizations, everyone knows who has the most power and few people challenge the power structure. Reward Power This type of power is the extent to which one person has control over rewards that are valued by another. The greater the perceived values of such rewards, the greater the power. Organizational rewards include pay, promotions and valued office assignments. A manager who has complete control over such rewards has a good deal of power. Manager who uses praise and recognition has also a good deal of power. Coercive Power People have, coercive power if they have control over some form of punishment such as threat of dismissal, suspension, demotion or other method of embarrassment for the people. Perhaps, a manager can cause psychological harm also lo an employee. A manager‘s coercive power increases with the number and severity of the sanctions over which the manager has control. Although the use of coercive power is often successful in the short run, it tends to create resentment and hostility and therefore is usually detrimental to the organization in the long run. Expert Power It is more of personal power than organizational power. Expert power is that influence which one wields as a result of one's experience, special skill or knowledge. This power occurs when the expert threatens to withhold his knowledge or skill. Since any person who is not easily replaceable has more power as compared to those who are easily replaceable. If the subordinates view their superior as competent, and knowledgeable, naturally they will obey and
To the extent.i leader's power and some of the variables that are likely to lead to three general types of employee responses or outcomes-commitment. attitudes and dress. However. HOW PEOPLE USE POWER An individual manager may have power derived from any or all of the five bases of power and the manager may use that power in different1 ways. However a leader who relies on coercive power is very unlikely to have committed employees. coercion is now generally recognized to be the most difficult form of punishment to use successfully in an organization. The work of Gary Yukl provides both a way to predict the consequences of certain uses of power and guidelines for using power. Most of these suggestions imply that managers must be sensitive to employees concerns. must be sure that the employee has actually done the job and done it well. Employees must know that they get rewarded for good work. For instance. Managers who wish to maintain their credibility should make threats only when they intend to carry through on them and should never threaten a punishment that they cannot bring about. Hence. Referent Power A person who is respected by certain others for whatever reason has referent power over those people. compliance and resistance-when the leader uses the power. of power. when a superior asks a sub-ordinate to do something. before giving a reward. that a low-ranking worker has important knowledge not available to a superior. Managers who are insensitive to their employees may find that their legitimate power dwindles and that they must resort to coercive power. accept and be willing to follow him or her. the sub-ordinate usually complies without resistance. Using Reward Power The manager. Such by passing of the normal chain of command can cause hard feelings among all the people involved. using coercive power is a natural response when something goes wrong. People with referent power are often imitated by others with the star's actions. The boss must follow normal procedures and make sure the request is appropriate. The secretary who understands the importance of a task will be more likely to work enthusiastically on it. Therefore. A person with referent power may have charisma and people who respect that person are likely to get emotionally involved with the respected person and identify with. resent it and losing respect for people using that type. Though the secretary does what the boss asks. the way the superior makes the request and follows it up are very important for ensuring the sub-ordinate‘s future compliance and the growth of the superior's referent power. This imitation reflects the rising star's power over the imitations. The following table list^ the five sources of . still the boss could be cordial and polite when making requests and should whenever possible explain why a particular task needs to be done. the table shows that a leader's use of referent power will lead employees to be committed to the leader‘s project if they see that the project is important to the leader. For instance. a vice-president whose secretary is busy should not assume that he or she can just ask a supervisor's secretary to drop all other work and type a letter. But often employees resist coercive power.respect the superior. A . he is likely to have more power. Using Coercive Power For some people. good managers must try to analyse the sources of their power and be careful how they use that power. Using Legitimate Power The use of legitimate power is seldom challenged in an organization.
Tushman defined politics. enhance and use power and other resources to obtain their preferred outcomes in a situation where there is uncertainly or disagreement. ‗as the structure and process of the use of authority and power to affect definition of goals. Manager can use his expert power most effectively to address employee concerns. the manager must be able to identify the defect and must be able to help and educate him. managers must make people aware of how much they know. Using Expert Power To gain power from their expertise. One of the most positive and subtle uses of referent power is the process of rote modeling. directions and the other major parameters of the organization. A respected manager who wants her employees to be punctual. warning an individual who uses copying machine to make -personal copies but firing someone who steals equipment from the organization. However a manager who understands why people use political behavior and the techniques people usually employ has the best chance to manage political behavior successfully. Using Referent Power Leaders have traditionally strengthened their referent power by hiring employees with backgrounds similar to their own. One great organizational scholar. Organizational politics refers to the activities carried out by people to acquire. a number of people are seeking to gain and use power to achieve their own ends. POLITICAL BEHAVIOR AND ORGANIZATIONAL POLITICS Power and politics are inextricably interwoven with the fabric of an organization's life. This pursuit of power is political behavior. at any given moment. People use political behavior in organizations in response to the five main factors: • • • • • Ambiguous goals Scarce resources Technology and the environment Non-Programmed decisions Organizational change . For instance. Public punishment makes everyone uneasy and humiliating and hence should be done private.good manager will be such that the punishment fit the crime. In any organization. Managing Political Behavior The very nature of political behavior makes it difficult to manage or even approach in a rational and systematic manner. considerate and creative can simply demonstrate those behaviors herself and her employees will likely imitate her actions. Decisions are not made in rational or formal way but rather through compromise accommodation and bargaining. If a particular sales person faces any difficulty in selling a particular product and turns to manager for his help.
In situations in which technologies are uncertain. political behavior is increased when the internal technology is complex and when external environment is highly volatile. Thus. people have the tendency to use political behavior to make sure that they get the biggest possible share of the resource. Scarce Resources When resources are scarce. TECHNIQUES OF POLITICAL BEHAVIOR The most commonly used techniques of political behavior are: Controlling information Controlling lines of communication Controlling agenda Using outside experts Game playing : . peoples in powerful positions have the opportunity to play politics. perceptions are selective and biased and information processing capacities are constrained. CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT Organizational effectiveness is largely a function of the organization‘s ability to appropriately respond to external environment which is highly dynamic and generally unpredictable as well as adequately adopt to complex technological developments. bunch and guesses and all these subjective feelings can be affected by political behavior. These changes may include restructuring of a division or creating a division. states as follows: ―If there is one concluding message. preferences are conflicting. personnel changes. who has done extensive research on -the subject of power in organizations. introducing a new product line and all these changes influence political behavior when various individuals and groups try to control the given situation. the model of an effective politician may be an appropriate one for both the individual and for the organization in the long-run‖. It is widely accepted that managers have to be politicians in order to maintain their positions in the organizational hierarchy as well as serve the interests of their units. Hence decisions are taken on intuition. Organizational Change Whenever there are changes in the organizational structure and policies. These decisions are not based on clear standards and precedents. it is that it is probably effective and it is certainly normal that these managers do behave as politicians. because such issues involve many factors and variables that are complex in nature. the companies have to make a lot of non-Programmed decisions on certain issues. If is even better that some of them are quiet effective at it. Pfeiffer. Some people may use the ambiguity to manipulate the situation for their benefit.FACTORS INFLUENCING POLITICAL BEHAVIOR Ambiguous Goals When the goals of a department or the entire organization are ambiguous then there is more room available for playing politics. Non-Programmed Decisions Sometimes.
It is necessary to have the alliance with the right people. The person who controls a meeting's agenda. In addition. for instance. for instance. Image building is creating positive impression reflected by the personality. Open communication can reduce the political activity if all employees know how and why an organization allocates resources. the employees will be likely to put their energy into meeting the stated criteria for gelling resources rather than into political activity. combating politics must be undertaken by the top management and some of the steps that can be undertaken are: open communication. damper co-operative spirit and much time and energy is spent planning attacks and counter attacks which are detrimental to organizational health. honest. Hence. Open communication is one of the ways an organization can reduce . the stronger is political power base of those who possess these information. always project an image of competence and self-assurance. The more critical (he information and fewer the people who have it. appearance and style. People who have some control over lines of communication can yield considerable political power. It involves people doing something insincere. may consistently put a particular item last on the list and then take up time so that meeting adjourns before considering the item. the secretary may have considerable power in deciding who sees the boss and who does not at a given time. Uncertainty in the form of ambiguous goals and changes that affect the organization tends to increase the use of political activity. Managing Political Behavior Though it is virtually impossible to eliminate political behavior in organizations. Some of the factors that enhance a preferred image consist of being well dressed. then employees will he less likely to think that the decisions were political and less likely to use political techniques to try to influence the next decision. create enemies. If the organization is open about why it made particular decision. Consultants know who is paying them and even honest consultants are likely to give opinions consistent with those of their employer. For example. Accordingly. sociable and loyal to the organizational interests. being attractive. therefore. reduction of uncertainty and creating awareness. it is possible to reduce it. For instance. Reducing such uncertainty can. She may use this power in favoring those whom she likes and frustrating those against whom she may have it grudge. Coalition building can become simply a matter of quid pro quo: I will support you if you will support me. Image building Building coalitions One technique of political behavior is to control the dissemination of critical information to others. if a manager understands the reasons for it and the techniques of political behavior. avoid meeting by going out of the town on the day of meeting. Controlling lines of communication is another political technique related to the flow of information. a manager who does not want to answer a committee's tough questions may. but not outright illegal or unethical to gain political ends. destroy loyalty. Politics when carried to the extreme can damage morale. The opinions of outside experts and consultants often curry much weight in organizations and many consultants can be swayed by political interests. Building coalitions or alliance is another technique of gaining political power. Controlling the agenda also gives a person power over information. hiring an outside consultant can be a clever political move. having a pleasant smile. reduce the political behavior. Game playing can range from fairly innocent to very manipulative.
in case of lay off the organization can reduce political behavior. Managers with this awareness will expect an increase in political activity during times of organizational change and will learn how to handle it. For instance. managers who develop an ability to recognize and predict political activity are in the best position to limit its effects. .uncertainty. laying down clear criteria and making it transparent to the employees who will be laid off. Finally.
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