Power and Conflict: How Do They Affect Productivity


Over half of Americans are unhappy in their current job, and 80% of workers are stressed. Low morale coupled with high stress levels leads to decreased productivity. A study by Accenture discovered that two million Americans quit their job each month, and the reasons? Lack of recognition (43%), internal politics (35%), a lack of empowerment (31%), and a dislike for management (31%).

Power and politics is everything in business. It’s the springboard for how decisions are made, and it’s the backbone of what defines the employee culture. The impact of power can have negative or positive effects depending on leadership style and employee relationships. Furthermore, politics may directly dictate who has the power and enhance or diminish the productivity in the workplace.

Climbing up the ladder of power can be a tricky move, and the journey can often be one marked by persuasion or one marked by manipulation. Productivity is thwarted when back handed tactics are used to distract from getting the work done and fellow coworkers are criticized in their efforts to do so. And often at the top, the best decisions aren’t made with regards to employee relationship management.

Here are the ways in which power can be better harnessed and conflict can be managed to improve workplace productivity:

Democratic Leadership

Depending on the leadership style of those in power, objectives and goals may not be communicated effectively to employees. For example, autocratic leaders set goals without input from their employees. In contrast, democratic leaders will have the buy in from their teams, to ensure goals are achievable, realistic and measure up to the skill set of their employees or outsource to ensure the workload is manageable. Difficulty in completing projects can lead to low morale, and even absenteeism which will result in poor productivity output. Employees have a greater personal interest in their duties and the company overall when it is felt that they contribute to the planning and execution of tasks.

Employee Empowerment

The micromanagement technique does little to promote employee morale, and therefore productivity. When employees are not given the opportunity to make decisions, or are constantly kept in check by their boss, it instills a sense of distrust in the employee and slows down the approval process for projects. Leaders can instead boost employee morale by focusing on employee ownership and accountability. When employees are entrusted with the independence to complete tasks, they become more productive over time as they manage their workload with minimal supervision and direction from management. This in turn allows leaders to delegate effectively and focus on the bigger projects at hand.

Transparent Communication

Without clear communication and direction, employees can become overwhelmed, misinformed and lack in their confidence to complete a task. Open two way dialogue between leaders and employees can help build trust and boost employee morale. When employees feel as though their voice is being heard, they will feel valued. This helps to resolve issues and problems quickly when they arise, which then improves the level of work output.

Rewards And Recognition

A lack of acknowledgement or credit for a job well done is in itself enough to dishearten any employee. Workers will perform at their best when they know it’s appreciated. Leaders could motivate their employees through recognition and incentives. These gestures help to motivate employees and increase their confidence, which in turn has a positive impact on productivity. A motivated employee is a productive employee.

Foster Innovation

When employees have little control over the day-to-day running of the company they work for, they will become disengaged and de-motivated. Leaders should empower employees to research innovative ways to improve their job function or the company as a whole and allow them to test their ideas. This shows employees that they are valued and trusted. Productivity will be encouraged by giving employees the freedom to explore other ways of thinking to find sustainable tools for growth.

Create A Sense Of Relatability

The more personable a boss can be towards his/her employees, the better the relationship is. People want to work for someone they can relate to and respect. It helps productivity flourish when employees feel they can approach their leader with concerns or ideas knowing their boss will be understanding of their point of view.

For more on employee satisfaction and healthy work cultures, get inspired by this list of great companies to work for.

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