Power, Politics, Conflict:
Organisations are complex, and there are several issues that we have to address in managing them well. Power, politics, conflict are interrelated issues.
Coercive power – A manager can coerce a person on the threat of warning, cutting of pay, holding of promotions, etc.
Reward power – A manager can reward a person and therefore, he gains power over the subordinates because the subordinate is willing to accept the orders of the manager to gain the reward.
Legitimate power – This comes because of the position and the belief that some things are supposed to be done when told by a person in that position.
Information power – This is derived from access to and control over information.
Expert power – Here, a person is able to control or influence another person because of possessing knowledge, experience, or judgment that the other person lacks, but needs.
Rational persuasion – Rational persuasion is the ability to control another’s behavior by using logical arguments.
Referent power – Referent power refers to the ability of a leader to influence a follower because of the follower’s loyalty, respect, friendship, admiration, affection, or a desire to gain approval.
Charismatic power – Charismatic power is based on the leader’s exceptional personal qualities or the demonstration of extraordinary insight and accomplishment, which inspire loyalty and obedience from the followers.
Organisational politics refers to the use and manipulation of situations, power, and people to secure their position and gain from the situation. It may be done by letting others down and by increasing their own power, image, and status within the organisation. The results or the benefits can be tangible or intangible, depending upon the situation.
Groups are opposing each other with mutually opposing actions and counter actions
Each group attempts to create a relatively favoured position vis-a-vis the other
Types of Conflict
Conflict can be classified in many ways. Some of the classifications are discussed below:
Based on utility of conflict
The traditional view is that all conflicts are dysfunctional and hinders performance. The human relations view believes that conflict is a natural occurrence in all groups and organisations that it cannot be eliminated and may even contribute to group performance.
|Outcomes of Conflict Positive||Negative|
|1.||Leads to new ideas||1.
|Diverts energy from work|
|Threatens psychological well-being|
|4.||Promotes organizational vitality||4.
|Creates a negative climate
|5.||Helps individuals and groups establish identities||5.
|Breaks down group cohesion|
|6.||Serves as a safety valve to indicate problems||6.||Can increase hostility and aggressive behaviours|
Based on choice
Based on choice we have:
Approach – approach conflict which occurs when a person must choose between two positive and equally attractive alternatives. For example, choosing between a valued promotion in the organisation and a desirable new job with another firm.
Avoidance – avoidance conflict which occurs when a person must choose between two negative and equally unattractive alternatives. For example, being asked either to accept a job transfer to another town in an undesirable location or to have one’s employment with an organisation terminated.
Based on parties involved
Conflict can be intrapersonal (within the person) and no others are involved or Interpersonal. Let us now discuss these two types of conflicts in detail.
Intrapersonal – A person may suffer intrapersonal conflict for various reasons. They are:
Cognitive conflict – An intellectual discomfort created by trying to achieve incompatible goals.
Affective conflict – Occurs when emotions are incompatible with the goals. For example, the need to smile at the customers after a sad event at home.
Inter-role conflict – Occurs when a person experiences conflict among the multiple roles in his or her life. For example, role of a mother and role of an executive secretary who gets home late or role of a union leader supported by the management and the role to defend a worker from abuse of the management.
Intra-role conflict – This is conflict within a single role. It often arises when a person receives conflicting message from role senders (the individuals who place expectations on the person) about how to perform a certain role. For example, the company policy defines high standards of ethics but the role occupant is asked by the manager to offer a bribe to get a sanction.
Person-role conflict – Occurs when an individual in a particular role is expected to perform behaviours that clash with his or her values. For example, salespeople may be officially required to offer the most expensive item in the sales line first to the customer, even when it is apparent that the customer does not want or cannot afford the item. This may conflict with the salesperson’s values or past experience, and he or she may experience person-role conflict.
Inter-individual or interpersonal conflict – When two individuals disagree about issues, actions, or goals and the outcomes are important to both, there is inter-individual conflict.
There are five styles of managing conflict.
|Competing||1. When quick, decisive action is vital (e.g., emergencies).
2. On important issues where unpopular actions need implementing (e.g., cost cutting, enforcing unpopular rules, discipline).
3. On issues vital to company welfare when you know you are right.
4. Against people who take advantage of non-competitive behaviour.
|Collaborating||1. To find an integrative solution when both sets of concerns are too important to be compromised.
2. When your objective is to learn.
3. To merge insights from people with different perspectives.
4. To gain commitment by incorporating concerns into a consensus.
5. To work through feelings that have interfered with a relationship.
|Compromising||1. When goals are important but not worth the effort or potential disruption of more assertive modes.
2. When opponents with equal power are committed to mutually exclusive goals.
3. To achieve temporary settlements to complex issues.
4. To arrive at expedient solutions under time pressure.
5. 14. As a backup when collaboration or competition is unsuccessful.
|Avoiding||1. When an issue is trivial or more important issues are pressing.
2. When you perceive no chance of satisfying your concerns.
3. When potential disruption outweighs the benefits of resolution.
4. To let people cool down and regain perspective.
5. When others can resolve the conflict more effectively.
6. When issues seem tangential or symptomatic of other issues.
|Accommodating||1. When you find you are wrong to allow a better position to be heard, to learn, and to show your reasonableness.
2. When issues are more important to others than to you to satisfy others and maintain cooperation.
3. To build social credits for later issues.
4. To minimise loss when you are outmatched and losing.
5. When harmony and stability are especially important.
6. To allow employees to develop by learning from mistakes.