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Monday, July 16, 2012

Power and Influence Tactics - Power and Politics

Using position and personal power well to achieve the desired influence over other people is a challenge for most managers. There are many useful ways of exercising relational influence. The most common strategies involve the following (Kipinis et. Al, 1984):

Ø  Reason – Use of facts and data to make a logical or rational presentation of ideas

Ø  Friendliness – Use of flattery, creation of goodwill, acting humble, and being friendly

Ø  Coalition – Getting the support of other people in the organization to back up the request

Ø  Bargaining – Use of negotiation through the exchange of benefits or favors

Ø  Assertiveness – Use of a direct and forceful approach such as demanding compliance

Ø  Higher authority – Gaining the support of higher levels in the organization to back up requests

Ø  Sanctions – Use of organizationally derived rewards and punishments

Employees rely on the seven tactics variably. Depending on the situational factors, individuals tend to use the above strategies accordingly to the suitability and the likelihood of the success to be achieved by employing the same. The manager’s relative power impacts the selection of tactics in two ways.

Ø  First, managers who control resources that are valued by others, or who are perceived to be in positions of dominance, use a greater variety of tactics than do those with less power.

Ø  Second, managers with power use assertiveness with greater frequency than do those with less power.

Ø  Resistance leads to managers using more directive strategies.

The manager’s objectives for wanting to influence causes them to vary their power tactics. The objectives may be as follows:

Ø  When seeking benefits from a superior, they use friendliness.

Ø  When they are in need to make superiors accept new ideas, they usually rely on reason.

Ø  Managers use reason to sell ideas to employees and friendliness to obtain favors.

Research evidence also supports the following with regard to use of tactics and the choice used by managers with regard to power:

The manager’s expectation of the target person’s willingness to comply is an important factor. When past experience indicates a high probability of success, managers use simple requests to gain compliance. Where success is less predictable, managers are more likely to use assertiveness and sanctions to achieve their objectives. The organization’s culture also plays an important role in deciding the use of power tactics. The organizational culture in which a manager works, will have a significant bearing on defining which tactics are considered appropriate. The organization itself will influence which subset of power tactics is viewed as acceptable for use by managers. People in different countries tend to prefer different power tactics. For example in US people prefer use of reason in contrast to China where coalition as a tactic is preferred. Differences are consistent with values among countries–reason is consistent with American’s preference for direct confrontation and coalition is consistent with the Chinese preference for using indirect approaches.

There are eight basic types of influence tactics. They are listed and described in the table below:

Power tactics

The person uses demands, threats, or intimidation to convince you to comply with a request or to support a proposal.
If you don't do this, you're fired. You have until 5:00 to change your mind, or I'm going without you.
Upward appeals
The person seeks to persuade you that the request is approved by higher management, or appeals to higher management for assistance in gaining your compliance with the request.
I'm reporting you to my boss. My boss supports this idea.
The person makes an explicit or implicit promise that you will receive rewards or tangible benefits if you comply with a request or support a proposal, or reminds you of a prior favour to be reciprocated.
You owe me a favour. I'll take you to lunch if you'll support me on this.
The person seeks the aid of others to persuade you to do something or uses the support of others as an argument for you to agree also.
All the other supervisors agree with me. I'll ask you in front of the whole committee.
The person seeks to get you in a good mood or to think favourably of him or her before asking you to do something.
Only you can do this job right. I can always count on you, so I have another request.
Rational persuasion
The person uses logical arguments and factual evidence to persuade you that a proposal or request is viable and likely to result in the attainment of task objectives.
This new procedure will save us $150,000 in overhead. It makes sense to hire John; he   has the most experience.
Inspirational appeals
The person makes an emotional request or proposal that arouses enthusiasm by appealing to your values and ideals, or by increasing your confidence that you can do it.
Being environmentally conscious is the right thing. Getting that account will be tough, but I know you can do it.
The person seeks your participation in making a decision or planning how to implement a proposed policy, strategy, or change.
This new attendance plan is controversial. How can we make it more acceptable? What do you think we can do to make our workers less fearful of the new robots on the   production line?

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