Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Business File

Dealing with power struggles in a business

By John Corban

Power struggles in the workplace can be difficult to manage. Let’s look at some of the common issues with team members that business owners face and discuss how to deal with them.

Many business owners are more aware today of how they can manage and develop their managers and team members. Sometimes power struggles can exist between owners and managers, team leaders and team members. As much as these are frustrating and unsettling, the more we look for the core issue, and communicate openly and clearly with the intent of resolving the issue, the quicker we can enjoy successful working relationships.

General leadership conflicts on site

Conflict can occur when there is no clear definition of responsibilities. For example, when it’s unclear who is responsible for a certain project or certain tasks, employees may cross boundaries they didn’t know existed.

To prevent this from happening, clearly assign one person to run a construction project or maintenance site. Give them clear information for the project, make sure they have reviewed the design plan, expected time for each task, materials list ordered etc. Help or guide them, if necessary, on the steps of execution.

When a tradesperson tries to overpower a team leader
If a team leader isn’t confident or doesn’t direct their team confidently, another strong member may take advantage of their weakness. To help the team leader in this situation, let them know it’s ok to not be sure about an aspect of a task and that it is ok to ask you, the business owner, any question. If a tradesperson is knowledgeable in a particular task that the team leader is not, assure them that’s its ok to collaborate with the strong skilled tradesperson and utilise their knowledge and skill. Remember, you are still managing the site and the team takes your direction. They should know that at any stage they can run something by you the owner.  

Let the team leader also know that if they are organised and understand the project well, they should utilise all the team members’ skills, as well as the business owner’s knowledge and guidance throughout the job. Only then can they approach the project with more confidence.

What to do if a manager or team leader often doesn’t follow the business owner’s suggestions
If the manager/team leader does seek your suggestion on how to deal with a team issue, employee issue or dealing with a client complaint, yet doesn’t use your suggestion and does something different, that is ok, if their approach was aligned with company values. If their approach conflicts with your company’s policies, customer service or values, and this angers or disappoints you, then a meeting and a discussion would need to be arranged as soon as possible.

In the meeting, you would highlight the issue and that it conflicts with company values. Ask if they were aware of it being in conflict. It’s essential that you listen to them. Perhaps they were not aware of company values and policies. If not, these will have to be highlighted. Ensure the meeting finishes with you understanding why it happened and the manager understands that their approach was the wrong choice. Always take 100% responsibility if a manager or employee may be working against your values. Find the core problem – perhaps you may have controlled meetings and not given the manager or employee the respect they deserved.

Managing team members successfully takes constant clear and open communication, structured meetings, training in processes, systems, guidance and support. It seems like a lot of work, but like everything, once the flow is happening it’s not hard, but is enjoyable and a crucial part of your business success.

John Corban
Business Coach for Landscapers,
Horticulturists and Nursery owners
Mob: 0433 27 1980

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