Power games at work: How you deal with it

Power games in the job probably exist in every company by now. Whether the boss wants to play out his power over his employees or the cockfight between you and your office neighbor breaks out. You can’t protect yourself from power games at work, but you can be better prepared when it hits you.

Here are a few helpful tips on how you can successfully behave towards power players.

Power games at work: What exactly is that?

Maybe sometimes you find yourself right in the eye of the power struggle that is being fought over you or WITH you. How far you have climbed the career ladder, the more this negative wind will whistle around your ears. Power games at work manifest themselves in different ways:

  • A colleague spreads rumours about you behind your back in order to make you look bad in front of your work colleagues and your boss.
  • You get important information very late or too late because some lousy coward from your office holds it back just to get you in trouble.
  • Your boss is always half an hour late for extra meetings or lets you work overtime several times a week.
  • Or even worse, your boss is making a fool of you in front of the entire staff.

Power struggles on the job have many faces and are not always immediately apparent. But: they are usually very unpleasant and occur more often where a job at a higher level has just become available. But how do you behave when you are in the middle of it?

Get the picture

If you feel unjustly treated by employees or the boss or even „attacked“ with words or deeds, wait with immediate resistance. You should know your opponent and see through his games before you shoot yourself offside even more with a quick reaction.

Offensive courage

If you know how the rabbit runs, you can devise a suitable strategy. Do you play the game? Do you have any objections? Or do you even thwart the „attacker’s“ plan? An example: Your office neighbor is eager for a promotion and fears you’ll snatch the new job from under his nose. As a result, he talks badly about you and constantly accuses you of mistakes. Take the offensive and address the issue directly at the next meeting: „I made a mistake, who doesn’t? I’ve learned from it.“ When people gossip about you, ask them out loud and direct, „Is it about me?“ Make it clear that you’re not going to let yourself be talked down so easily.

Don’t be down in the mouth

Power games at work are often played at a very low level. Make sure that your reaction is not on the same level. Stand above it, and don’t let this kind of power play drag you down. Your boss always kicks your ass? Record the incidents in detail and go to the human resources department. The best way is still confrontation and discussion in private. Sometimes a power player suddenly becomes quite tame and friendly. Have a beer together and it’s all over! Doesn’t that help or do you just go to work with a stomach ache, ignore the troublemaker or look for a new job.


Martin ist Geschäftsführer der Kies-Media GmbH und Betreiber von ManOnAMission.de. Er interessiert sich für alles was mit IT, Logik und Männersport zu tun hat.