Studies by such people as Pearce and Robinson (1987) have shown that the most effective managers use a combination of expert, referent and connection power rather than coercive, legitimate, reward or positional power. Those in charge are more likely to use personal power rather than that of positional power, due to the recent tendency of organisations de-layering their managerial structure. Information is now more widely shared and management is seen as a form of partnership in order to achieve agreed objectives.
There are still organisations, which base their power on coercion and reward, and individual leaders who rely on these as the foundation of their power. That is not to say that the leaders, such as the CEO, have all the power. Even though the single employee may not have much say in the running of the organisation, yet the power of the staff as a whole is unprecedented. Originally this power was enforced through the trade unions, however these have become more redundant and only used as a last straw. Walmart, the owner of ASDA, has banned the use of trade unions in many of its stores it operates, outside of the UK.
Practices such as these ensure the staff potentially loses its power over the running of the management. Although to ask a manager of Walmart they would no doubt, say that the procedures of the organisation are more than adequate so unions are not needed, a sceptic may argue otherwise. Generally the employees of an organisation will resist changes and are always in fear of losing their jobs. This needs to be addressed or the employees have the power to stop production, by means of striking or by other measures. The manager can deal with the employees but first must ensure that he understands them.
The employees’ natural reaction to any change is how is it going to affect me? The most important factor, as previously mention is that of job security. The employee is likely to be thinking along the lines of how does this affect me and is my job in jeopardy. They may also become worried about their competence in the workplace. Another issue plaguing the employees is that of the destruction of relationships between themselves, other employees, managers and teams within the organisation. This is more likely to occur in the event of a major organisation overhaul, such as a management restructuring.
Another area playing on the minds of the employees is that of the work territory. This revolves around the thinking that they are uncertain about their workspace or job responsibilities. Another trail of thought of the employee is the ‘why are we doing this? ‘, which signifies a lack of focus/direction. With the correct management approach, and usage of the appropriate management power, the manager/CEO can prevent the employees using the ultimate power. Striking, the fear of all in charge, the strongest singular activity the employees can do with a low risk of losing their jobs, much to the annoyance of the management.
When this happenings it devastates the company. One particular case is that of British Airways, whose staff recently went on strike, opposing changes facing them. Needless to say they are likely to only last a short time as they are in need of money. This is possibly the only flaw in the power of employees, but not one as easily exploited as many managers assume. If there were some way of creating harmony between those in charge and the employees, there would be no need for the exerting any of the respective groups powers. But unless something drastic happens then the situation will get no better.