Work Power Struggle Case Study

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Work Power Struggle Case Study

At the young age of 23, Jim Davis has a promising career at Hereford National Bank. In three months, he has been promoted to Business Development Manager, tasked with developing a new strategy for the bank. His first big initiative of selling bank services through branch managers is at risk due to a twenty-five year veteran’s (Patty Mathews) reluctance to participate. How will Jim leverage his position and personal power to ensure success?

Do Not Overlook the Obvious

Before delving into a power struggle with Patty, Jim needs to have a conversation with Patty to understand her position. First, he clearly does not understand why she refuses to participate. Second, she may have actually been sick. Human resource theorists tend to focus on influence that enhances mutuality and collaboration. The implicit hope is that participation, openness, and collaboration make power a nonissue (CP, Chapter 9). By having a conversation with Patty, two potential avenues will emerge for Jim:

1. He can quickly take action to pacify Patty’s concern and move the project forward, thereby ending the issue, or

2. Realize that Patty is resisting him in a way that can only be resolved through his sources of power.

Assuming # 2 occurs, Jim must first assess his sources of power. Although having the conversation did not resolve the issue, it may shed light on Patty’s needs and source of conflict with Jim.

Sources of Power

Jim holds two significant sources of power as defined in Chapter 9, Power, Conflict, and Coalition:

1. Control of Rewards: Jim has the ability to provide an expense account to Patty, the only concern of hers discussed in the case.

2. Alliances and Networks: Jim is good friends with Patty’s manager, Allen. He also has established a great relationship with Eric Johnson, a bank executive.

Jim needs to focus on the three types of influence skills as defined in Chapter 5, “Gaining and Using Sustainable, Ethical Power and Influence”: (1) Being able to read other people and adapt your message in ways that will help you be understood and supported, (2) using the six universal forms of influences; and (3) developing political savvy.

Jim has avoided politics since starting with Hereford, so political savvy (3) is not necessary available to him. It is something he can begin to develop through this situation. Having a conversation with Patty will enable him to accomplish (1) and from this position begin to focus on his forms of influence (2) to meet his desired goal of full participation of all the branch managers.
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