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How do Power Dynamics impact you at work?

For many organisations, change is neither desirable nor simple. How can you help your people feel in control during times of transition? How can you minimise the ‘loss’ which often comes with change? What can you do to reduce conflict and build healthy teams, even when the rate of change keeps increasing? What behaviours help people thrive during change? Use these top tips from the experts:

Author of Difficult People made Easy Eleanor Shakiba says ‘From an anthropological perspective, power dynamics are fascinating. Every culture on earth uses behavioural norms to differentiate ‘powerful’ group members from those who are ‘powerless’. In organisations, these behavioural norms often involve people taking roles like victim, persecutor or rescuer which all involve some form of power play.’ Even though someone in a Victim role appears powerless they are still getting something from the drama they are playing out, people who Rescue might appear nice but are actually trying to control others by taking over and keeping them powerless.

Karen Meager takes this further with a wellbeing perspective ‘The key to healthy power dynamics is for team members to act with an empowered attitude’.

This means:

  • Taking full responsibility for what it theirs
  • Not doing other peoples’ thinking for them
  • Letting other people (or facilitating them to) take responsibility for what is theirs
  • Asking for what they want or need, knowing that the answer will not always be positive

This is easier said than done and it exists in the healthiest and most productive workplaces where power to uses to drive things forward and get things done, rather than individuals seeking their own personal advantage.

John McLachlan say’s it’s important to understand the different types of power motivation people have in the workplace. If someone seeks power they are usually driven by the need for one of these:

To have influence

To have an impact or make a difference

To be in control

To have prestige or recognition

If you know what drives your boss or your colleagues, you can present ideas to them in a way that makes sense to them. Presenting a new initiative that devolves all control away from your department to somewhere else will not be appealing to someone with a control motive, even if it is cheaper and less work.

They key with power dynamics is to understand when they are a force for good or a toxic force than stems the flow of innovation and progress. To read the full article on Power Dynamics sign up for the Great Minds Think Differently Series, a monthly feature which tackles common complex people problems organisations face. Sign up by sending an e mail to this e mail address with the title Great Minds Think Differently: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You won’t be added to any other distribution list.


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