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University of Guelph
Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour
HROB 3100
Jamie Gruman

Chapter 5: Gaining Power and Influence Balance View of Power Lack of Power  Negative view of “personal power” is common in cultures that place a high value on ascription, rather than achievement, and on collectivism, rather than individualism  Power need not be associated with aggression, brute force, craftiness, or deceit  Power can be viewed as a sign of personal efficicy  It is the ability to mobilize resources to accomplish productive work  People with power shape their environment, whereas the powerless are molded by theirs  Rosabeth Kanter pointed out that powerful managers not only can accomplish more pesonally, but can also pass on more information and mak more resources available to subordinates ◦ For this reason, people tend to prefer bossess with “clout” ◦ Subordinates tend to feel they have higher status in an organization and their morale is higher than they perceive that their boss has considerable upward influence ◦ Also argues, powerlessness tends to foster businesses rather than true leadership  Indicators of a Manager's Upward and Outward Power ◦ Intercede favorably on behald of someone in trouble ◦ Get a desirable placement for a talented subordinate ◦ Get approval for expenditures beyond the budget ◦ Get items on and off the agenda at policy meetings ◦ Get fast access to top decision makers ◦ Maintain regular, frequent contact with top decision makers ◦ Acquire early information about decisions and policy shifts Abuse of Power  Characteristics that derail managers careers ◦ Insensitive to others; abrasive and intimidating ◦ Cold, aloof and arrogant ◦ Betraying others trust ◦ Overly ambitious; playing politics and always trying to move up ◦ Unable to delegate to others or to build a team ◦ Overdependent on others (e.g.Amentor)  Managers with an institutional power orientation use their power to advance the goals of the organization  Personal power view of power tend to use their power for personal gain  Leaders with both orientations are likely to exhot their subordinates to engage in heroic endeavors, the “institutional power” leaders tend to link those efforts to organizational objectives, whereas the “personal power” leaders are more likely to use their subordinates accomplishments to further enhance their own power base  Both lack of power and the abuse of power are equally debilitating and counterproductive  Empowerment uses sufficient amounts of personal power to achieve high levels of effectiveness  Two specific management skills: ◦ 1. Gaining power (overcoming feelings of powerlessness ◦ 2. Converting power effectively into interpersonal influence in ways that avoid the abuse of power Strategies for Gaining Organizational Power The Necessity of Power and Empowerment  1. Organizations are becoming less hierarchical, or flatter, as they downsize layers of management ◦ Many organizations are choosing to grow through the use of temporary and part-time workers who can more easily be let go during tough economic times  2. Information technology such as computers, is helping to decentralize the flow of information to lower levels of the organizational hierarchy ◦ Not only gives lower-employees more influence, but also increases their flexibility  3. Traditional boundaries within and between organizations are becoming blurred ◦ The “boundaryless” organization is becoming in vogue as we see evidence of the virtual organization composed of a netowrk different entities  4. The percentage of the workforce working in companies with fewer than 100 employees is increasing ◦ Small business where the organizations survival depends on good customer relations, imaginative ideas for new products, and favorable financial agreements with banks, personal characteristics are often the predominant source of power  Two basic factors determine a person's power in an organization: ◦ Personal attributes ◦ Position characterisitcs  Position title is important in a strong hierarchical system, such as the military or civil service ◦ The saying “rank has its privileges” illustrates the fact that in these organizations many rewards are allocated more on the basis of position title than personal performance  Eastern culutres encourage contextual or situtational logic, whereas Western cultures foster personal, or dispositional, explanations  The strength of this “dispositional bias” in Western thought is reflected in research showing thatAmericans are willing to make very confident predictions about future behavior on the basis of a very small sample of past behavior and they consistantly over-estimate the predicitve power of personality traits  Human Capital refers to an individual's abilities and competencies  Social Capital refers to a person's social connections within and outside an organization  Managers with high social capital (what we are calling high position power) are in a better position to capitalize on their human capital (personal power) becaue their social connections allow them to leverage their personal knowledge and abilities ◦ Which makes managers seek to increase their influence in an organization to increase both source of power Source of Personal Power Expertise  The great organizational equalizer because it can come from formal education, self-directed learning, or on the job experience  The universally understood and accessible standard of competence is the basis for evaluation and the antecedent of accomplishment  It is salient in established business organizations because of their preference for a highly rationalized decision-making process Attraction  Attraction: Asource of personal power; charisma, agreeable behavior and physical characteristics  Three definitions of charisma: ◦ 1. The ability to inspire followers with devotion and ethusiasm ◦ 2.An attractive aura, great charm ◦ 3.Adivinely conferred power or talent  Leaders are more likely to be considered charismatic if they: ◦ 1. Express a vision that is inspiring ◦ 2. Incur personal sacrifice and even risk their personal well-being in pursuing their vision ◦ 3. Recommend the use of unconventional, non-traiditonal approaches to achieving shared goals ◦ 4. Have a seeminly uncanny feel for what is possible, including an acute sense of timing ◦ 5. Demonstrate sensitivity to members needs and concerns  Characteristics of Likable People ◦ Support an open, honest, and loyal relationships ◦ Foster intimacy by being emotionally and accessible ◦ Provide unconditional, positive regard and acceptance ◦ Endure some sacrifices if the relationship should demand thems ◦ Provide social reinforcement in the form of sympathy or empathy ◦ Engage in the social exchanges necessary to sustain a relationship  Subordinates who are liked by their supervisor also tend to be given the benefit of the doubt in performance appraisals  Agreeable behaviour would normaly associate with friendship  Physical appearance operates independently of personality or even behaviour ◦ Attractive appearance are judged to have socially desirable personality characteristics and to lead highly succssful lives ◦ Attractive individuals are judged to be masters of their own fate – pursuing their own goals, imbued with a sense of mission – rather than being buffeted by environmental forces Effort  Ahigh level of personal effort is one of the most highly prized characteristics of employees beacuse it means they are dependable, reliable human resources  Extraordinary level of personal effort can result in increased responsibility and opportunity through a process known as cognitive disonance reduction  Extraordinary effort is viewed as a sign of commitment and dedication that should be encouraged and rewarded  Distinction between extraordinary effort and extraordinary image: ◦ Former focuses on enhanced performance, the latter on enhanced regard (without performance) ◦ The objective of the first is enhancing the boss; ◦ The objective of the second is impressing the boss  Managing the relationship with your boss; Make sure you understand your boss, including: ◦ Your boss's goals and objectives ◦ The pressures on him or her ◦ Your boss's strengths, weaknesses, blind spots ◦ His or her preferred work style ◦ Assess yourself, including: ▪ Your own strengths and weaknesses ▪ Your personal style ▪ Your predisposition toward dependence on authority Legitimacy  It increases acceptance, and acceptance is a key to personal influence  Organizational leaders are vigilant in defending core organizational values in socializing newcomers to proper modes of thinking and acting  Successful organizations have members who are capable of both gaining power by fitting in and using that power to challenge the prevailing beleif system that  Challenges are most successful when mounted by members whose commitment to the organizational has been the most loyal The Relationship Between the Sources of Personal Power and Personal Trustworthiness Expertise  Related personal characteristics: Reliable  Requirements for personal trustworthiness:Ability – Can they make good on their commitments? Effort  Related personal characteristics: Dependable Attraction  Related personal characteristics: Likable  Requirements for personal trustworthiness: Motivation – Will they make a good on their commitments? Legitimacy  Related personal characteristic:Acceptable Sources of Positional Power Centrality  One of the most important ways of gaining power in an organization is by occupying a position of centrality in a braod network of task and interpersonal relationships  Networkds are critical to effective performance of one compelling reasons: ◦ Except for routine jobs, no one has all the necessary information and resources to accomplish what's expected of him or her  Power is accrued via horizontal and vertical networks relationships by virtue of one's location and function in the network ◦ Horiztonal networks link positions with similar levels of authority, ◦ Vertical networks include positions with different levels of authority ◦ The more central a position is to the flow of information throughout a network and the more critical the function is to the performance of others in a network, the more pwoer will be accrued  Strategic contingenices ◦ It argues the reason for the uneven distribution of power in organizations is that units and positions differ in their ability to control strategic contingencies (e.g. Securing of information, expertise, financing) critical to the effective performance of others  Increasing the power of a position by increasing its centrality in a communication or work-flow network represents a very different approach from conventional strategies  Savvy organizational members realize informal network power is available to individuals at all levels ◦ They understand that informal personal power generally precedes, rather than follows from, formal organizational power  Horizontal structures ◦ Communication network is isolated into single departments Flexibility  Freedom to exercise one's judgement  Aperson who has little latitude to improvise, to innovate, or to demonstrate intiative will find it extremely difficult to become powerful  Power can be lost because circumstances often change more readily than people or their jobs can change to keep up with the new times  Aflexible position has few rules or established routines governing how work should be done  Flexibility tends to be associated with cerrtain types of work assignments, particularly tasks that are high in variety and novelty  It is corrlelated with the life cycle of a position  A“reliable performance” reward system uses as its performance criterion conformity to a set of prescribed means for performing a task  A“unusual performance” reward system eschews consistency in favor of initiative Visibility  The number of influential people with whom you normally interact in your organization  This helps explain why people-oritented positions are often more powerful than task-oriented positions  The value visibility is clearly demonstratied in the position of an executive secratary  Best way to gain visibility is by means of direct contact, and face-to-face communication is the most influential means to accomplish this  Another important opportunity for gaining visibility is participation in problem-solving task forces ◦ Being asked to serve in this capcity conveys to others that you have valuable expertise Relevance  Means being associated with activities that are directly related to the central objectives and issues in an organization  An indivdiual who seeks influential postions must be sensitive to the relevance of his or her department's activities for the company Determinants of Position-Power Centrality – Access to information in a communication network Flexibility – Amount of discretion vested in a position Visibility – Degree to which task performance is seen by influential people in the organization Relevance – Alignment of assigned tasks and organizational priorities Transforming Power into Influence  Our goal here is not to help people gain power for its own sake  When the weak seek power simply because they are tired of being pushed around, tyranny generally follows their ascension  Our focus is on how you can become influential as well as powerful  Influential people have power, but not all poweful people have influence  Influence entails actually securing the consent of others to work with you in acomplishing an objective Influence Strategies: The Three Rs  The influence strategies used by managers to obtain compliance fall into three broad categories: ◦ Retribution ◦ Reciprocity ◦ Reason  Retribution is based on personal threat, which typically stems from formal authority
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