There are many different approaches to superior-subordinate influence in organizations. “Social influence is an ever-present aspect of organizational life. From formal board meetings to informal employee interactions, individuals seek to control the opinions and activities of others in the pursuit of personal and organizational goals” (Seiter & Gass, 2004, p. 337) It is apparent that persuasion and influence are present in our everyday lives and at work. I work for the City of Madison Police Department and there are obvious superior-subordinate influences in my organization.
I am currently still “new” to this field and have been employed for almost four years now. In regards to working with superiors and my coworkers there have been several tactics and practices used throughout the years that have been effective and ineffective in influence and persuasion. I have found that there are many different factors and considerations that come into play when superior-subordinates interact with one another and influence each other. Looking at our department it is set up as a hierarchy and we have upward, downward, and lateral flow of communication.
The “best practices” approaches that help to be effective in my experience has been using strategies such as, Reasoning, Assertiveness, Altruism, and Sanctions. These strategies work because they help to keep us on track and focused. I deal with Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, and my colleagues of Detectives and Police Officers. I have had Sergeants who manage a platoon and have done so differently than others. I have found that I like Sergeants who are assertive in their requests. Sergeants have to take charge in certain tactical situations and if I am in a location that is jeopardizing my safety or others he/she will tell me to move. They may yell at me, but at the end of the situation we will debrief the incident. At this point the Sergeant will go over what I did right/wrong and will use “collaborative tactics.” This is helpful because he/she is talking to me one on one in a way that is not demeaning and I can feel comfortable offering my feedback. When doing this job I have been in contact with many superiors and I have found that if I have a positive relationship and get along with the person, it makes the job easier. Being able to explain reasons, and be assertive just makes me understand why I should do some of the things that are requested of me.
I think that sanctions are important as well because are job does have a lot of power. In the past there have been officers who have abused power and need to be kept in check. Although this is rare, I think it is important to make sure everyone is aware of the possible punishments. I also think that it is important for individuals to be recognized for accomplishments because it creates positive energy. Overall I think building good relationships with coworkers and superiors, having sanctions, being assertive, and using collaborative tactics are effective ways to help be influential.
Seiter, J., & Gass R. (2004). Perspectives on persuasion, social Influence, and compliance gaining.
Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education, Inc.