How to Deal with Power-Hungry People at Work


There is nothing wrong with wanting to rise to the top of the career ladder. The problem with being overly ambitious is that those who want power often resort to bullish, aggressive and hurtful behavior that creates a toxic work environment. It can be difficult to call out power-hungry people because they tend to be manipulative and know how to win over the office leadership. But whether you are a manager or a fellow colleague, it is possible to work around the manipulation and survive in the workplace with such individuals.

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1. Give them an opportunity to lead

According to Ken Warren, a workplace relations specialist, a good way to satisfy power-hungry employees is to give them what they want. As a manager, you can prevent overly ambitious people from wreaking havoc by providing them with leadership opportunities. This is certainly a risky move because the person may start to abuse his power when they are accorded the opportunity to be in control. If such opportunities are currently unavailable, you can allow them greater autonomy in how they approach their projects.

2. You are in control

An office tyrant engages in harassment to elicit an aggressive reaction from others. Your best armor is to take notice of their behavior pattern that causes you to become angry, agitated or stressed out. Just being aware that they are engaging in such behavior to annoy you allows you to respond in a calm way or to choose not to respond at all to their conduct. In a sense, learning the behavior of a power-hungry person allows you to leave your ego at the door and to respond to them rationally instead of competing with them.

3. Keep track of your own accomplishments

A common tactic power-hungry people use is taking credit for work they have not done themselves. To avoid being taken advantage of, keep a record of your workplace accomplishments and always share these with your supervisor and colleagues. Keeping everyone updated with your progress on each project makes it clear who deserves credit at any given time.

4. Record deviant incidences

It is very difficult to catch an office tyrant in the act—these individuals are manipulative, often charming, have mastered the art of lying, and they know how to make themselves look good at the expense of others. If their bullying behavior goes on for a while, you might want to keep a record of these acts. Recording incidences of such behavior will be helpful when it is time to reveal their real intentions to management.

5. Report three levels above

Making a decision to report the office tyrant to the management can be difficult—the immediate boss could actually be supporting their adversarial behavior. If you have attempted in vain to speak to your colleague and immediate supervisor, it is time to take the issue higher up the management structure. This will require requesting a meeting with the company president and gathering adequate proof of a colleague’s behavior and your failed attempts to resolve the issue.

See also: How to be Productive and Get Ahead at Work

It can be tempting to schmooze with colleagues who know how to manipulate their way, flatter the boss and take credit for other’s work—but this is not a good move for your career. Once you identify a power-hungry colleague, your best bet is to remain alert and tread carefully around them so their behavior will not jeopardize your own career goals.