Coercive power

I like the reputation system in stackoverflow.com. It allows one to up vote as much as you like but if we wish to down vote, will reduce the receiver’s reputation, it will also reduce our own reputation hence making it a serious choice. Why I like this system is, this is very much like how someone’s reputation grows or reduces in real life.

Reputation does not show up in numbers in real life, so one can not say whether their reputation is on the rise or fall in the immediate turn of events. Workplaces are getting more and more co-operative. Research also shows that a motivated individual performs lot better than someone working with the guidelines from super efficient processes. Every individual gains powers through position, authority, rank, knowledge, skill etc. One of the powers gained is coercive power, which when used never leaves a positive note.

It is very common in schools, cadet corps, military where reward and punishment is like carrot and a stick. In the office environment it is in the form of hikes, assignments,  promotions. In a co-operative environment where work gets done based on trust and motivation, use of coercive power can provide super quick short term gains. This can make people in power, fall into trap of getting something accomplished when trust and motivation does not get them through. What will not be realized is that the trust on the person in power goes down and the recipient’s motivation level will further go down.

This creates a vicious cycle of usage of coercive power and loss of motivation until the healthy workplace culture turns into an order and serve office. My first hand experience of witnessing this on few teams will never make resort to this power. Let us keep the work place symbiotic.

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