What is Power at Workplace and Abuse of Power?
The misuse of the authority vested in a person or an official for personal advantage or misusing it towards juniors or subordinates or a combination of both which results in adverse effects and breeds negativity is called abuse of power.
Before understanding the abuse of power, let us first understand what exactly is power in the workplace. Power is bestowed in employees of the organization and power as it percolates down the hierarchy, reduces.
This is the reason why the delegation of authority can stop the abuse of power in some cases. Power is a byproduct of power.
Once a person gets the authority, he automatically gets the power and can use that power in any way. The dictionary meaning of abuse is to use something in wrong or harmful way or treating someone in such a way which is not acceptable by the law. For example, some women abuse their rights in the commission of the unlawful act.
Similarly, abuse of power takes place when a person in authority makes the wrong use of the power bestowed on it to commit an unlawful act for personal gains or other reasons. Abuse of power at the workplace is also referred to as “malfeasance.” All the abuse like sexual abuse, negligence, physical abuse, etc. are considered the abuse of power.
Examples of abuse of power at the workplace
- Harassing or bullying colleagues or subordinates.
- Asking for sexual favours from the employees or making inappropriate contact with employees.
- Asking staff to perform personal errands.
- Interfering and disturbing colleagues or employees and disturbing their ability to work efficiently.
- Forcing colleagues or subordinates to break the rules of the workplace.
Abuse of power or malfeasance is a serious offence and one a be removed from his position in the office, or other serious actions can be taken against the person based on the seriousness of the offense.
The impacts of abuse of power at the workplace
- Impact the workability of employees.
- An employee who is being abused finds it hard to concentrate on work.
- Create a stressed environment in the workplace.
- Waste of working hours.
- Loss of manpower. Employees who could deal with abuse of power might leave the organization or can take extreme steps like committing suicide.
These are a few impacts of abuse of power, and the count of impacts may rise to a higher number there is no proper protocol to deal with the abuse of power at the workplace. In the next section, you will learn what an employee should do if he or she is the victim of abuse of power and what management should do avoid abuse of power at the workplace?
How to deal with abuse of power at the workplace?
No matter in which country you are or no matter in which organization you work you will always encounter wit people who will make the use of their power to take advantage of their position and to abuse people who work for them.
People sometimes find themselves alone and don’t know the course of actions that they should take to deal with the abuse of power in any way.
Remember one thing abuse of power at the workplace is a heinous offence, and there are laws to deal with the abuse of power at the workplace. Following are the steps of _ steps approach to deal with the abuse of power at the workplace.
#1. Differentiate the wrong behaviour with appropriate behaviour
One biggest problem with abuse of power is that many employees don’t know the difference between a wrong behaviour and right behaviour, and they end up encouraging the perpetrator. Let us take a look at a few examples of wrong behaviour.
- Your boos ask you to clean the mess that they have created in their office.
- Ask you to stay in the office after working hours.
- Ask you to perform his work.
- Ask you to keep secret about his illegal acts.
- Make inappropriate physical contact with you.
- Use inappropriate language while communicating with you.
- Bully you in front of other employees or in alone.
- Blackmail you for various reasons.
These are a few examples of the wrong behaviour in the workplace. Become alert as soon as you see such behavior.
#2. Confront them (In a professional manner)
The second step that you should take is to confront them professionally rather than suffering alone. Usually, people who are misusing their power are aware of the consequences of their wrongdoing and continue their actions if the victim remains silent.
Sometimes simply confronting them put a stop on their actions. For example, If your boss is bad-mouthing you in front of the higher authority in the organization, confront them and ask them professionally that what is causing their such behaviour and what you can do make things right.
This is the appropriate and professional approach to deal with the matter.
If you are thinking to take this matter to high authorities or human resources’ department, then you should be prepared with the evidence required. Document the bad behaviour of your boss. Documentation and evidence are important if you want to involve the higher authority in your matter.
#4. Don’t overreact and learn when the line is being crossed
Sometimes bosses act badly. There can be various reasons behind this. He might shout on you because of your poor performance or the mistake you made in the accounting. Such behaviour is normal in the workplace.
The situation can heat up sometimes that does not mean you should react every single time. But if such behaviour is persistent, then it is a worrisome situation, and you should know where to draw the line and to confront them or to involve higher authority.
#5. Seek the help of higher authority or human resource department
Get out and make a complain before it is too late for you to act. Provide all the evidence that you have got and tell them the problems that you faced in detail.
List out all the evidence that made you feel bad and ask your colleagues to testify if they were with you when a particular event happen.
What management should do to avoid abuse of power at the workplace?
Management can play an important role to avoid the abuse of power at the workplace. Following are the precautionary steps that management should take to avoid abuse of power.
#1. Provide training before you hand over authority to someone
First and foremost, step management should take to add a one or two days training to make teach people about the difference between the wrong actions and right actions and to teach them what consequences that they might face if they abuse power bestowed on them.
#2. Correct the culture of the workplace
If there is too much difference between the level of boss and employees, then there are high chances of the existence of abuse of power cases.
Therefore, create a culture where employees and bosses work altogether, and no one has the power that they can use to misuse the power bestowed on them.
#3. Distribute the authority
It is natural for one to become egoistic and loud if they feel superior then all other people working around them. To avoid this, divide the authority among people. So that no single person can have so much power that they start exploiting their juniors.
#4. Give a warning to all managers
Give clear warning to all your managers that what actions would be taken against them if they were found misusing the power given to them and tell them clearly that their power struck behaviour will not e tolerated in any condition.
#5. Encourages people working in your organization to come and talk in open if they face any type of harassment
Sometimes, employees think that they will only be making a fool of themselves or they might lose their job if they complain about the inappropriate behaviour of their seniors.
To avoid this, you should ask your human resource manager to conduct at least one meeting with each employee to talk about the problems that they are facing in the office, or to talk about their work pressure and work performance, etc.
In this way, you will get to know about the problem before it becomes a serious problem and this will also give support to your employees that they have someone that they can talk to.
This will not only help you to fight with abuse of power at the workplace but also help you in keeping a positive environment in the office, and you can also keep a check on the work performance of employees.