Bridging manager oversees the customer service group. Included

 

 

 

 

 

Bridging the Two Worlds-The Organizational
Dilemma

Case Study

 

 

 

 

Awi Oluwaseun

 

 

 

 

Rosemary
Vogt, Ph.D.

Canadian Mennonite University

 

Introduction

            A new manager has been hired at Aluminum Elements Corp. (AEC)
manufactures different products mostly made of aluminum and typically destined
for construction sites.  The new manager oversees
the customer service group.  Included in
these duties is looking after customers, logistics and some of the raw material
purchasing.  The new manager reports to
his supervisor George, who is Vice President of the company.

            It doesn’t take long to realize some serious issues and
disconnect between management and the floor level employees, particularly
between supervisor George and an aluminum slitter operator, John.  At AEC, management tends to minimize their
interaction with floor employees by utilizing separate washrooms, lunchrooms
and even sending written memos to replace direct confrontations.  The employees are not accustomed to interactions
with management.  They feel the management
only cares about schedules and finances, not the AEC staff.

            This new manager tries to build relationships with the
employees and finds they have valuable knowledge which helps improve the
efficiency, thus reducing new order turnaround time.  Supervisor George congratulates the new
manager on excellent work, and thinks to promote John as well. When George gives
the news to John first hand, John blows up in anger exclaiming, “After all my
effort and work, you guys are sending me for training seminars. So, am I not
good enough for you?” (McShane & Steen, 2009)

Management
and Organizational Theories

            There are many theories to be analyzed in the Aluminum
Elements Corp. case study.  Since the
organization is run mainly by mainstream practices (Dyck & Neubert, 2010), these theories can
help increase employee productivity, if practiced.  “Management is the process of planning,
organizing, leading, and controlling human, and other organizational resources
with the aim of the effective achievement of organizational goals.”  It is clear by the case this is not being
done.  The employees are associating
upper management with bad news, which is trying to be changed by the newly
hired manager.  As seen by the new
manager, employees have valuable input which should be considered due to their
experience.  Although the current
structure gives managers the ability for control, it is lacking innovation and
efficiency for the organization.

The
Iron Cage

            AEC exemplifies how a controlling bureaucratic system can
become an iron cage as theorized by Max Weber (Cole, 2016).  In this case study, it has in fact prohibited
innovation by the employees on the ground floor.  The new manager practices a multiteam
approach to management (Dyck & Neubert, 2010), recognizing how
poorly bureaucracy has worked in the company. 
Clearly, he is focused on the group rather than himself, showing characteristics
similar to Robert Greenleaf, rather than Jack Welch. 

Era
Principles

            AEC currently is functioning as an organization fixed in
classical era principles, where scientific management and bureaucracy were
heavily relied upon (Dyck & Neubert, 2010).  The company should rather be emphasizing
principles founded in the human era (Dyck & Neubert, 2010).  Focusing on leading and interacting with the
workers would be beneficial for the organization as employees have valuable
ideas.  Principles of the human era were
proven to be positive by Mayo, who through a production study discovered the
Hawthorn Effect (Harvard Business School,
2012).  This concluded the workforce is better
motivated, thus more productive when positively interacted with.  The new manager has kept principles from the calculating
era, where management science was used. 
It becomes apparent in the spreadsheet and mathematical equations used
to find efficiency in the workforce. 

Theory
X/Theory Y

            The previously used theory X management approach has
not worked in this organization, which is more focused on directing to fight
laziness of workers (Dyck & Neubert, 2010).  The employees have proven the opposite to the
new manager by suggesting improvements to heighten efficiency.  This new manager is a theory Y manager, which
is helping the organization.  He
recognizes the employee’s motivation to work and is increasing the opportunity
for them to succeed (Dyck & Neubert, 2010). 

Orientation

            The new manager is long-term oriented, wishing the future
success of the business to be as great as possible, and taking steps to
accomplish his goal.  He is clearly a
believer in sustenance economics rather than acquisitive economics, which is a
short-term orientation.  His style of
management is very similar to the goals of Management 2.0.  The main goal of this new theory is to have
“organizations that are as adaptable, innovative, and engaging as the people
who work for them” (Hamel, 2007).

Goals and Strategies

Betterment of Communication

Visible and
communicative leadership needs to be adopted. Visible leadership occurs when
employees have the freedom to approach managers face to face.  In doing so, floor employees and senior
management work to establish a relationship which allows the transfer of
information between the two.  This may
cut down on tensions, as well as give employees the opportunity to see their
opinion, welfare, and work as being valued by the organization.  Communicative leadership allows for the employees
input and feedback, participating with them in the strategic planning process.  It also makes them aware of the decisions
affecting their job, and possibly providing new solutions to problems which
continue to arise.

Bridging the Wall of Disparity

The
obvious inequality is the use of washrooms, lunchrooms and other perks the
managers get over floor employees. It is our understanding that the use of
those facilities does not change the job function of any employee.  Rather it will foster the opportunity of
mutual respect for all the company’s employees, thus eliminating low
self-esteem.  This change has already
proved an advantage in the new manager’s practices.  Within the few months since the new manager
joined the company, it became clear how more efficient the company could be
when opinions of the floor employees were considered.  Having the managers take these steps fosters
a relationship of trust and respect that likely will increase motivation, as
shown by the Hawthorne Effect.

Reward Programs

Positive
reward programs, such as promotions, are key for the company to show their
appreciation for the valuable input of the floor employees.  This has been partially enacted, but further
groundwork must be done to protect against a negative response like John’s. The
advantages of the remedies mentioned above outweigh disadvantages created by
the changes to AEC.  Firstly, there is
greater cost efficiency with the change. 
The company will be able to reduce more cost and operate more
efficiently from employee input. Material waste will be eliminated with floor
employees knowing the best way to do their job, with the least amount of materials.  Second is dedication.  The floor employees will have a greater
willingness to take pride in their jobs and be more invested.  A disadvantage is that rewards may create an
expectation for employees, thus work might not be done without it.

Recommendation

I
recommend an open management approach which will be practiced by all employees,
all facilities should be accessible for all employees to stop disparity between
groups.   This will allow for bettered
relationships and communication, creating a positive workplace environment. It
is very important for management to understand that the floor employees play
pivotal roles towards the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.
These employees are vastly experienced and if they tend to seek employments
with competitors they have favorable chances of getting hired.

Ideas and Questions for
Consideration

Scope

            The scope for this case is mainly
about managers building better relationship with employees, and make the business
more efficient. The employees are
not accustomed to management talking to them. They feel as though their managers
only care about schedules and not the employees themselves. However, this new
manager tries to build relationships with the employees and finds they have an
abundance of valuable knowledge.  The
knowledge provided by employees helps improve AEC’s efficiency and reduce new
order turnaround time.

Limitations

            There are almost no limitations to
this case.  All employees provide
information to the company which makes it easier, cheaper, and more efficient
to run. The only two limitations would be the stereotype of junior employees in
organizations. They are mostly viewed inferior compared to senior staffs in an
organization. The second is the ego of managers, who would likely be unwilling
to give up their hierarchical position for the betterment of the company.  However, from the positive response of the VP
towards John, management seems receptive to change.

Reflection

In this case, I learnt the character
traits of a good manager in the 21st century.  This is concluded by a combination of lessons
previously learnt from class, from stereotyping, work place conflicts and many
other issues potential managers should be aware of.  A good manager must be intelligent,
understand difficult ideas, and can deal with difficult issues.  They communicate clearly, informing all staff
in a way that allows positive and quick response.  A manager should be creative and good at
problem solving, and can involve the workforce in said decisions.  They should have trusting relationships with
their employees, being able to recognize their needs and hear their ideas.  Managers need to know how to encourage,
guide, inspire, and support workers in a manner which enables prosperity. It is
essential managers do not discriminate or stereotype, but rather allow
inter-business growth to better positions for their employees.  A good manager listens to employees for their
good ideas, which can help the business run more efficiently.  In having these
characteristics, the business will host a favorable environment both for
employees and managers, helping fulfil their roles within the organization.

Conclusion

            This
case study put a new manager in a unique position.  The new manager has an untainted mindset,
different than other managers within Aluminum Elements Corp.  In this case, I see an organization utilizing
mainstream management principles, but with a new manager looking to change the
status quo.  There is a bureaucratic
control displayed within the company, functioning as in classical era.  The new hire manages with theory Y management
principles, enabling the floor employees to thrive.  In closing, I see a new manager trying to take
this organization in a good direction, but large improvements are still
necessary.  The first step is to improve
communication between AEC employees and management.  The managers need to continue relating positively
to employees, while encouraging their ideas for the company’s improvement.  Although, alone a manager cannot change the
whole organization, bridges can begin to be built, resulting in the organization’s
previous disparity starting to shrink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Cole, N. L. (2016). Understanding Max Weber’s
“Iron Cage”. Retrieved from About Education:
http://sociology.about.com/od/Profiles/tp/All-About-That-Max-Weber.htm
Dyck, B., & Neubert, M. J. (2010). Management:
Current Practices and New Directions. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt Publishing Company.
Hamel, G. (2007). The Blog: Management 2.0.
Retrieved from The Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-hamel/management-20_b_75676.html
Harvard Business School. (2012). The “Hawthorne Effect”.
Retrieved from Baker Library Historical Collections:
http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/hawthorne/09.html#nine
McShane, S. L., & Steen, S. L. (2009). Canadian
Organizational Behaviour. Boston: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.