Overcoming Power Struggles in the Workplace

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March 30, 2022
Author: Lorman Education

Power struggles are unfortunately common in many workplaces, especially when one or more employees share power. The end result is often hurt feelings and bad outcomes. Learn to avoid and overcome power struggles in ways that maintain employee morale.

What is a Power Struggle?

At its core, a power struggle is a type of conflict over a resource or decision among two or more employees of relatively equal power. They can be explicit (a shouting match) or implicit (communication breakdown or hurt feelings). They sometimes work themselves out, but can fester for months or even years.

Why Do Power Struggles Matter?

Employees require psychological safety in order to get their work done. Conflict with other employees can damage this feeling of safety and impact productivity, morale, and even turnover.

It's in everyone's best interest that power struggles are identified and addressed quickly (or avoided entirely). 

Resolving Power Struggles

Perhaps the best tool in resolving a power struggle is communication. A frank discussion can expose the root of the issue, thereby providing an open opportunity to find a solution. Trust is imperative among co-workers, so it's important that this discussion is an honest and civil one. 

Another common solution involves a change in perspective. Colleagues who can empathize with one another are more likely to find common ground. These conflicts undermine corporate goals because they often have more to do with the individuals fighting. Refocusing the situation on the corporate mission and shared goals can help to ease tensions.

As a last resort, incompatible employees may need to be separated or shared projects mediated to keep hostilities low and collaboration high.

Follow up Strategies

One meeting or conversation likely won't resolve the issue forever. Follow up is key in prevent a return to conflict. Keep channels of communication open and ask for honest opinions on how things are going. Encourage a shared visions and enforce boundaries where necessary. While a gentle approach will usually get the job done, don't be afraid to be forceful if things aren't resolved quickly.

In Conclusion

Power struggles are common and destructive. It's in the company's best interest that they're addressed or avoided entirely. For more ways to address inter-office conflict and collaboration, browse relevant courses now.

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