Organizational Power and Conflict
Today, clear majority of individuals are on a constant struggle to achieve more, when it comes to work. Social status is usually measured by the individual’s occupation, thus there is always a constant need to achieve a higher and more powerful position within one’s organization. One of the biggest issues in larger organizations, is the need to have more power than the next individual and this can lead to several workplace conflicts. Organizations are virtual minefields when it comes to interpersonal relations. It is often the case that people who do not know each other, are not compatible, or who do not even like each other are thrown together in organizations and expected to work together harmoniously and productively (Nelson A., 2017). I believe that if the need to compete between colleagues was taken out from an organization and replaced with the need to achieve more as a team, the organization would be a lot more successful and the employees would be able to enjoy their job and workplace environment.
However, at the center of these organizations, lies the issue and need for power. What is power? Power is the ability to influence other people to do what you want them to do. One might think having power is good and ideal, however power can be an issue specially when it comes to issues of difficult colleagues (Nelson A., 2017). Power changes people and those who rise to the tops of companies and other organizations tend to prioritize their own goals and desires above those of others. These individuals fail to take other people’s perspectives into account, tend to disregard other people’s feelings and are, less polite. When these individuals position within that company is threatened, they act aggressively to preserve their position of power (Greer L., 2014).
Per McClelland’s need theory, people have three needs in the workplace. First is the need for achievement, second is the need for affiliation and finally the need for power. When it comes to larger organizations, the need for power comes first in the workplace, followed by the need to achieve more and last the need for affiliation. However, in smaller organizations the need to achieve more comes first, since individuals usually tend to work together to achieve the same goal. The need for power comes second within the smaller organizations and finally the need for affiliations comes last (Nelson A., 2017).
Conflict in a workplace and the need for power in an organization almost always go hand in hand. It is always good to avoid conflict in a workplace. With conflict comes other unnecessary issues that can have a negative effect on the quality and efficiency of work itself. We might ask ourselves what are some ways that we can avoid a workplace conflict? While conflict is a normal part of any social and organizational setting, the challenge of conflict lies on how one can deal with it. Concealed, avoided or otherwise ignored, conflict will likely grow into resentment, create withdrawal and cause infighting within the organization. The root of most conflicts is either born out of poor communication or inability to control one’s emotions (Myatt M., 2012). Some of the ways that one can avoid conflict in a workplace is by effective communication. Chances are everyone can do a little bit better to avoid stepping on each other toes if there are no misunderstandings and miscommunications amongst coworkers and the management. Sometimes one cannot avoid conflict at all cost and that’s when it’s better to hit conflict head-on and deal with it rather than avoiding it and causing it to escalate into a bigger issue. One other effective way to resolve conflict is by keeping in mind the other persons point of view and their objective. If we all can achieve what we need to achieve then there should be no need for conflict. In other words, happy colleagues and workplace, means a happier you. However, we cannot always control the actions of others in a workplace, and we can always do our best to the right thing.
In conclusion, our society characterizes individuals social class by what they do for a living. This can cause a major power struggle to achieve a higher position within ones’ organization or workplace. Depending on the type of organization one is working for, the McClelland’s three need theories are prioritized differently for bigger and smaller organizations. In the larger organizations, the need for power comes first followed by the need for achievement and finally the need for affiliations. However, in a smaller organization the need to achieve comes first followed by the need for power and finally the need for affiliation, last. The characterization of McClelland’s need theory determines ones’ priority within his or her workplace. We must understand that with the need for power almost always there is conflict involved. Even though there are ways for colleagues to avoid conflict to their best of ability, there still will be some conflict. The best thing to always remember is, if we all can achieve what we need to achieve, then there should be no need for conflict. Happy colleagues and workplace, means a happier you.
Greer, L. (2014). Stanford Graduate School of Business., (2014, January 16). How Power Struggles Escalate. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from www.gsb.stanford.edu
Nelson, A. (2017). Lesson 7. Applied social psychology: Organizational Life and Teams. Presented on the PSYCH 424 course content site lecture at the Pennsylvania State University.
Myatt, M. (2012). Forbes Leadership., (2012, February 22). 5 keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from www.forbes.com