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Power at work

Power in the workplace

 

Power at work – 6 things you need to know

There are various theories about how “power” plays a role in the work place, having an understanding of these theories might put you in a better position use assertiveness.

Here are a few indicators that I find useful when the situation looks a little tricky.

POSITIONAL POWER – The obvious power play, this derives from the grade, rank or position that you hold, it’s Positional Powerabout status. Many senior managers in organisations use this deliberately to get things done, that probably should have been planned better. “I am your boss and I am telling you to do it!”, “your family commitments need to wait, this deadline must be achieved, just get it done”. We see this Power play in everyday life. Why do Policemen (It is only men) wear helmets? So that they stand out, so that their status / power is readily observed. Some police forces would only recruit above a certain height to exacerbate this. (lets not get drawn into how well you do the job or how you behave, just give us big ones, ho hum) In a court of law judges sit higher than everyone…uniforms in the military.. uniforms at work.

Expert PowerEXPERT POWER – “I am the recognised guru in this field, challenge me at your peril! For I am the font of all knowledge”. Unfortunately many people confuse expert with length of time served, therefore you can be perceived as the expert just because you have lived long enough. How many colleagues do you know that have 10 year’s experience, but actually only had 1 year, but repeated it 10 times!  Learning little in the past 9 years.

coersive powerCOERSIVE POWER – The ugly use of threats to get people to do things. Often, but not exclusively, comes with Positional Power, frequently an abuse linked to social power.

Moral PowerMORAL POWER – “We must do this because it is simply the right thing to do”. A hard power play to argue against. The usual failing of this is that the right thing to do is often based on subjective feelings or misdirection, rather than objective facts, trends etc. “The Government of Syria should not gas civilians”. Well of course not, a point that makes absolute sense. However why was it OK to kill and injure civilians using other methods? And why were we silent then?

Social PowerSOCIAL POWER – This is a bit more delicate. How do you discipline a colleague when he is having an affair with the chief executive? Some people deliberately use their patronage to behave badly towards others. Although I have recently seen an example where a competent hardworking colleague was getting some really poor work allocated to her. The reason? Daddy is a senior manager and her boss doesn’t like Daddy, because Daddy got the job the manager wanted.

Personal PowerPERSONAL POWER – Some people are just really charismatic, regardless of their position. I am sure that all of us recognise people at work, home or in the pub that influence enormously because of their personal power.

I hope that makes sense, just a taster. Now think about your tricky situation, what are the powers being used? How can you use that knowledge to your benefit WITHOUT VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS? Richard

 

 

 

To find out more contact Richard or Paula by email, follow us on twitter Richard or Paula. or call us on 08712 349 873. We would love to buy you a coffee.

 

 

Motivation Part 2

Building on the previous blog which looked at Maslow’s study in determining why people go to work. In this article, I’m going to reflect on what makes people work hard willingly and well. In my experience it isn’t money!

In the 1960’s Frederick Hertzberg undertook a study into workplace motivation, and his findings were published under the title ‘One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees?’ which still hold true today.

Hertzberg identified the following “True Motivators”

1) Achievement

2) Recognition

3) The work itself

4) Responsibility

5) Advancement

6) Personal Growth

In the previous article, we discussed the door to motivation being “locked from the inside”, and that the best managers can have the keys to unlock motivation in others.  As managers and leaders we need to be aware of these keys so that we can empower our colleagues to work hard willingly and well. In practice, what sort of things can we do in addition to communicating effectively with our colleagues?

 

1) Achievement

A successful manager will ensure staff have the resources and skills necessary to meet or exceed their objectives. It is offering support and monitoring progress towards set goals. A good manager will remove roadblocks, resourcing issues and other trivia to allow their team member to achieve.

 

2) Recognition

The manager recognises the staff member’s hard work, and acknowledges this privately or sometimes publicly. Teams should be encouraged to celebrate the successful work undertaken by one of their members. This positive environment allows individuals to feel pride and confidence in their work, and will motivate them to continue producing similar results. Manager need to factor time into their diaries to actively do this. Telling someone “that’s what you’re paid for…” is a massive wasted opportunity.

 

3) The Work Itself

Many of us just love doing the job.   We receive enormous satisfaction from a job done well, (see link below to Dan Pink). There are plenty of people that feel this way about their role, despite the fact that managers may try to interfere in the work process, by controlling or stifling staff efforts. What might happen if managers positively challenged people to really excel? To really do the best they could?

 

4) Responsibility

A manager’s role to let staff get on with their tasks in a supported and resourced way. Why do some managers keep hold of particular tasks that should or could be delegated to others? Fear? The thought that they might be seen as lazy? Concern the other person might do a better job? Get the keys to motivation out! Delegate appropriate work formally with a clear explanation as to why, and ensure it’s not seen as dumping! If transferred correctly, this level of responsibility could be motivating.

 

5) Advancement

In the previous blog we examined the idea that status and being seen as an expert were important reasons why some people went to work. Herzberg highlighted the possibility of advancement as a key motivating factor. For many people the challenge of progressing in a team or company, with the chance of promotion, not matter how slim or distant, encourages them to work harder and to engage more fully with tasks. Managers should make staff aware of these possibilities and how individuals can attain them.

 

6) Personal Growth

It is hugely motivating to be able to do something one week that seemed impossible the week before. Personally, having learnt to plaster a piece of wall a couple of weeks ago, together with having the recognition of this achievement from others inspired me to continue developing my DIY skills. I also felt personal pride in my work. Managers need to recognise individual’s areas of personal or professional development, and offer their praise.

 

Hertzberg’s True Motivators are as important today as they were in 1968. The best managers and leaders know this and keep the keys close to hand. Everyone’s motivation to engage in work related tasks is slightly different, but an excellent leader can influence by using the six top True Motivators.

Dan Pink develops this further at the link below. My next blog will be about what dissatisfies us most at work and how the good manager can influence them.

 

Motivation Part 1

motivation part 1

This blog entry is one of three. In this one, I am going to look at one theory of what motivates us to work? The next blog will address what motivates us to work hard willingly and well and the third what demotivates us at work?

Having been involved in the professional development of people for nearly 30 years, I can categorically tell you that if someone doesn’t want to be motivated by external forces, they won’t be. I can also be pretty certain that the KITA school of motivation (Kick in the A***), will get a person to do a task, but not without resentment, and certainly won’t encourage them to do it of their own free will.

Previously we have looked at how power might be played out at work. The KITA approach can be used with Coercive Power, as well as Positional and Social Power abuse and can therefore be unpalatable to the receiver. These approaches will get the job done, but won’t necessarily encourage someone to continue to do the task of their own free will, or empower them to do able to do it.

So, what will motivate them? The saying “the door to motivation is locked from the inside” is true. As managers and colleagues in the work place, we have to understand why different staff members do their jobs. There must also be recognition that what may motivate one person, may not do so for another. This is obviously complex, but the premise we will examine in this article, is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in which five levels of human need are portrayed as a pyramid.

In today’s society, most people go to work because they need the money. I read recently that many people are “only four months of no income away from the breadline”. If that is true then Maslow’s ‘Physiological/Biological’ first or most basic level is probably achieved in 2014 by having a steady income, which allows us to buy food and pay for a warm shelter.

The level of income may well then allow his second stage to be achieved, where we need to address ‘Safety/Security‘ needs. We will have the money needed to pay the mortgage or rent, be able to keep our home secure, and perhaps be able to save to allow a monetary buffer, if work becomes unstable or the cost of living rises.

I come across many colleagues who are quite financially stable, mortgages paid off, kids flown the nest, to whom money is not the main driver to come to work. So what is? Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of school. What was the motivator to go? Well, the basic two reasons as discussed above, were met by your parents (or whoever provided for you). So, apart from going to school because it was compulsory, what else motivated you? The majority of us went to see friends, to socialise, to build social networks and perhaps find a relationship (help with that @therealme_PDP).

Similarly, many of us go to work because we like the social aspect of it. The third level in Maslow’s hierarchy focuses on ‘Belonging and Love‘, in which the majority of people need, and relish, being part of a team, belonging to a group, having the camaraderie that can come from working with the same people each day. I meet colleagues who are working far longer than their paid working day. When this is examined, it is not always because they are genuinely overloaded, but more about being part of something that has a purpose.

If your life has that social aspect away from work, you might need something else to motivate you in the workplace. In my expanding work with graduates, on Graduate or Government based Fast Stream programmes, I see this more and more. Financially these new entrants may be reasonably secure, socially very active and happy, so they use work to achieve something else. Maslow’s fourth level of the pyramid focuses on ‘Self-Esteem and Sense of Achievement‘. This is where the workplace is used to gain status or respect, as an individual becomes recognised for being really good at something. People may want to be seen as being the fixers, the experts, and to use work as a place to begin building professional reputations, which in turn will enhance their self-esteem and confidence.

Maslow’s highest level is described as ‘Self Actualisation / Self-fulfilment’. This is when your behaviour is driven by your desire for personal growth and fulfilment, rather than external factors or pressures. Many people will spend most of their lives striving to reach this level, and maybe there is something to be said for retirement, in which people feel they have the time and financial resources to really engage in the activities they wish to do, regardless of how crazy they may sound!

If you agree with Maslow’s theory, then each of these different levels will need to be understood, in order to motivate yourself or others at work. To paraphrase Ricky Gervais “you can’t learn the cello when you are eating out of bins!”

Next Blog – What makes us work hard, willingly and well!
Richard