How to Gain Power at Work

13 04 2008

Power is the ability to influence the choices of others and to direct the attainment of goals sought by yourself and others. There are many different philosophies on how to gain power in the workplace. Thousands of books have been written on the subject. These books are written by people in power positions, they do not want you to really have any power. These people want you to waste your time trying things like “Become genuinely interested in people” and “smile.” These are simply tactics that make you feel empowered but allow the people who currently dominate society to continue to dominate. So here is my tested and proven way to gain this sought after power.

Meetings in the corporate world are basically a series of very tricky mind games; to be successful in business you must master these games and that means having power. The corporate world today is merely a competition to see who can intellectually dominate the most people. A lot of people will give you stupid advice like “dress for success,” don’t listen to these people, they are trying to trick you to gain more power for themselves. Your focus should not be on the clothes you wear but rather subtle things you can do to impress the people you work for. If you have a one on one meeting with your boss, the best thing you can do is arrive at his office before he does and sit at his or her chair behind their desk. This does two things for you: a) it shows your superiors that you aspire to be just like them and have the ambition to get to where they are and b) getting to sit behind their desk gives you the power and makes them feel awkward.

You should also bring coffee to the meeting. In today’s world nothing signifies a hard worker better than a caffeine addiction. A good idea is to keep a Starbucks cup under your desk and fill it up with the office coffee, buying real Starbucks every time you have a meeting will drive you into bankruptcy after about a weeks worth of meetings. This way you can show not only a caffeine addiction but a shared taste with your boss as well. 10 year old kids in Mexico drink coffee but only successful business people have Starbucks every morning; really successful business people have Starbucks every morning, afternoon and occasionally night. This once again proves my point of there being a direct correlation between success and caffeine.

People often say that “Knowledge is Power.” This is true, one of the power resources within groups is the control over information. In order to control the information you must have exclusive access to the information. This leaves you really only one choice, periodically browse through your bosses files while he is at lunch, whenever he gets a new file that concerns a project you are involved in, take the file. Another good way to gain control over information is to call IT during lunch from your coworkers desk and pretend that you are them. Disguise your voice and tell IT that you would like to slightly alter your email address. Do this with all your coworkers but only make minor changes; for instance, if someone’s email reads wanda.jones@yourcompany.com simply change it to wadna.jones@yourcompany.com this should keep your coworker from noticing the change in their address but will keep them from receiving important emails from their superiors. Make sure to send this person emails frequently so that they don’t notice a sudden stoppage of mail, ween them off email slowly. Or you could sign them up for lots of junk mail so they continue to have lots of new messages in their inbox, the messages just quit being from people in the office. This will give you exclusive access to knowledge and will give you power.

Another form of power is legitimate authority and coercive power. This is when have a power over someone because of your title like manager or CEO. Coercive power means that you have the ability to apply negative forces on someone. Some would call this fear mongering, instead think of it like fish mongering but instead of selling something stinky like fish you are selling what can be a very useful emotion like fear. The best way to execute this is to start by establishing a title that gives you power over your coworkers. Remember, power is not something that can be appointed, power must be given by others around you otherwise it is nonexistent. The title must sound official, I recommend something like Departmental Director in charge of Illness-Related Absence (hyphenated phrases are a must to gain the most power). Make sure to include this title in the signature line of your emails. Send out a memo to your coworkers announcing to the office your new title and some of the changes you will be implementing. As for the changes, I recommend you threaten to begin investigations into employees use of sick days and announce that any employees caught abusing these days will be subject to loss of 25% of their “sick day privileges”. This gives you both coercive and legitimate authority over your coworkers.

Follow this guide and you will see your power at work increase ten-fold. I can’t guarantee that you will win friends but I can promise that you will have power over your coworkers and isn’t that what America is all about. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Also, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Obviously, neither of these statements are true, just look at America. America is the most powerful nation in the world, are we responsible? Are we corrupt? hmm, nevermind.


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2 responses

14 04 2008
Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson

This was a great read. LOVED it!

Signs of power in the work environment are literally everywhere. And what does it all mean? Absolutely nothing.

Instead of actually filling your Starbucks cup with office coffee – just try carrying around a Starbucks cup with nothing in it. That should do the trick – it’s kind of like wearing glasses just to look smart, even though you don’t need them.

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
Creators of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)
Authors of the forthcoming book “WHY WORK SUCKS AND HOW TO FIX IT”

14 04 2008
goochy

Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it. You are absolutely correct about the signs of power in the work environment. And the Starbucks to glasses analogy is terrific. “WHY WORK SUCKS AND HOW TO FIX IT” sounds like a great book!

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