Select a people management issue from your organisation or one that you are familiar with and critically analyse it using appropriate theory and course content. For the purpose of this assignment I am going to look at a current people management issue within the team I work in. Also for the purposes of this assignment I will relate to the person in question as Jane, in order to reflect anonymity. There will be a variety of aspects I intend to cover in order to critically analyse the presenting issue.
To summarise, the people management issues I am presented with is a worker who covertly has no wish to be a team member, no wish to show support her other team members during busy periods of time, and a team, some of whom, feel resentful against Jane In order to have framework form understanding the issues, I believe it will be important to explore organisational context, individuals and group behaviour. Whilst there are many areas of interest within this area that I could drawn upon and explore, I have chosen for the purpose of this assignment to explore further aspects such as group cohesion and team working.
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The Organisational context is important in understanding the parameters in which people work in. As Huczynski & Buchanan (1985) state, organisational context relates to the how the work of the organisation is carried out, performed. This is through the application of policies, guidance and rules. Furthermore Clinebell and Shadwick (2004) also express within their research that ‘organisational context is important in the determination of attitudes and behaviours (Rousseau, 1978 cited in Clinebell and Shadwick, 2004)’
Clinebell and Shadwicks (2004) research looked at job satisfaction, and the correlation to the context of the organisation, for example main office staff versus staff of a branch. Although this does not relate directly to my issues, it is important to understand and acknowledge that the context of the organisation plays an important part and should not be overlooked. Firstly, as a manager I have my own personal perception and expectation of workers as well as corporate expectation. I have personal rules, values as well as delivering organisational rules and values.
Nottinghamshire County Council, and more specifically Children’s Services Directorate, has a very clear context. We have very clear guidance and are strictly governed not only by our own policies and guidance, but also by external organisations. The context clearly outlines expected behaviours of the team. Huczynski & Buchanan (1985) also describe how organisation context is seen as the wider environment in which we work as well as the policies and rules we work within as described above.
They are the drivers in which we are shaped. Within the Team I manage, one could argue that the workers do not trouble themselves with the direct correlation of the external environmental factors and that they are only concerned with the context of policy rules and guidance which have a direct impact on their practice. For example the directive that a certain procedure will be followed will concern the worker; however the reasoning’s behind the directive and the formation of the procedure may not be as of great concern.
Again, Huczynski & Buchanan (1985) are clear on the link between the understanding of the external environment and the effectiveness of the organisation, and as a manager, albeit at middle management level, I have to understand how this can impact on the workers within the team and how we can effectively use such techniques as environment scanning or PESTLE to understand and be proactive regarding outcomes. PESTLE allows you to look at the various different elements of the external environment which may have an impact on the organisation.
I think it is fair to say with the Local Authority as the organisation there are many varying levels of complexities on which this exercise could be carried out, which some would say is one of its downfalls, however for the purposes of this assignment I have chosen to be more explicit and look at one element which is pertinent to this managing people issue. Technological. Within Children’s Services, as a directive from central government, it was agreed that an Integrated Children’s System (ICS) would be implemented for all staff throughout Children’s Service to use.
As would be expected within any organisation with any directive of change, it was met with some resistance. The arduous task of promoting the positive outcomes of using ICS is a work in progress and will undoubtedly continue to be so. ‘It is important to see organizational change as linked to both intraorganizational and broader contexts, and not to try to understand projects as episodes divorced from the historical, organizational or economic circumstances from which they emerge. (Walsham 1993b: 53 cited in McLaughlin 1999)’
During the assessment undertaken by Well Work, Jane felt that the anxieties of understanding and using a new computerised system, when she first started within the team, impacted on her ability to perform her duties and therefore resulted in her feeling stressed and not being able to work. Although through our supervision this issue was recognised and additional training and support was provided for Jane, she still felt it was increasing her stress levels. As recognised above the link to the internal context of the organisation is just, if not more important to the wider environment.
It is fair to say that Jane was not open to change, and her willingness to adapt was apparent; and as argued throughout this assignment, she was an individual within the team, whereas other team members supported each other and adapted to the changes and implementation of ICS. We could also explore John Kotter’s (1995) research which also looked at change, and the failings thereof. Kotter (1995) identified 8 phases that need to be successful in order to achieve change. One phase is ‘Empower others to act on the vision’ Kotter (1995). On an elementary level, every ffort was provided through resources, training and supervision to accommodate the change, and what it meant for Jane and her role. Although this is positive in terms of allowing for a successful transformation, Jane was unable accept these. I think here and throughout this assignment the words of Kravitz (1995) describes, for me the underlying issue for Jane, and difficulties presented to me as a manager to address. People with negative emotions (often related to a poor self-concept) have a much greater chance of experiencing negative stress and distress and are more likely to experience dissatisfaction with their lives and jobs.
Kravitz (199,. p. 13) Transformation or even acceptance into the team, team working, was not going to be successful because of Jane’s own agenda and dissatisfaction of her situation. Looking now more directly at Jane, or actually the individual, I am going to explore both the individual, personality, motivation and moving on to explore this within a group context. Jane has, as any other member of the team has, a personality that determines her position within the team. Within a team context, Jane’s personality also has a direct impact on the performance of the team.
As a manager, I have to determine whether the role that Jane was playing was due to her ‘personality’ per say or due to the fact that she quite clearly didn’t want to be a member of the team, in other words a constructed intentional behaviour. So, how do I understand and manage this issue? Personality Theory deals with the individual and their consistent behaviours. It allows you to understand the individual and their character Huczynski and Buchanan (1985). If we are concerned with consistent behaviours, is the behaviour Jane is displaying defined as consistent; is it inherent to her personality?
As a manager I felt that it wasn’t, I felt that actually it was a consequence of her situation. There was a clear indication that Jane was able to perform as a manager of a Family Centre. She had clear managerial roles and effectively performed these duties. However once within our team and having to effectively manage her time and performance she was unable to do this. I do not believe that the skills Jane had as a Family Centre Manager could not be transferred to the role of a social worker, therefore the only reason for her not performing, were due to her deliberate change in behaviour.
Huczynski and & Buchanan (1985) describe personalities as being stable and flexible, in other words you can have differing stable behaviours dependant of the context in which we display these behaviours. If we adopt this description then it would suggest that actually Jane personality is stable, it is just the context that is different, however one could argue that actually, Jane’s behaviour is not stable because of the situation she is placed in. Bandura (1977) brought us Social Learning Theory whereby people learn from the behaviours of the group through observation, imitating and modelling.
If we look at the team, as described in the introduction during the summer, we experienced very high workloads which in turn placed extreme pressures on each member of the team. Using Social Learning Theory, it would be expected that Jane would learn from and replicate the high levels of commitment and good practice from other members of the team. However, this was not the case; this again links back to Kravitz (1995), Jane experiencing distress within the team and not seeing herself as a team member.
Again Social Learning Theory allows for your personality to be flexible, and it allows for you to adapt, which in turn allows for good emotional well-being (Huczynski and Buchanan (1985). This theory shows how Jane was unable to be flexible, unable to learn from others behaviour which resulted in her experiencing work related stress. I think it is important to mention at this stage that I have to have an understanding of my own personality, and the effect that I can on other people. If I cannot reflect upon this as a manager, it will be difficult to communicate effectively with others. Emotional responses need to be acknowledged.
Whether or not I chose to act on these responses is no doubt a discussion to be had, but acknowledgment is paramount, before any understanding of Jane can begin. As we know, not only do you bring the present to any form of interaction, you also bring other experiences memories, judgements, previous conversations etc to that conversation, in other words, my perception of Jane and her behaviour within the team, rightly or wrongly will always be a part of any communication I have with her and as a result of that and as a manager, I have to ensure that this doesn’t influence negatively upon the current issue.
One could describe this as my social perception, how I make sense and interrupt others. Attribution theory is a more recent development which attempts to explain how people perceive one another. This theory is particularly interested in how people decide the cause of other people’s actions. It can also be used to examine how we explain our own actions (Hartley 1999, p116). Attribution theory would tell me that Jane’s intention is to behaviour in such a way that would mean her moving to another team and because of this her disposition; her characteristics are seen as negative, individual and unhelpful.
Emotional Intelligence is a concept developed by Daniel Goleman (1995, 1998) and although emotional intelligence is important for managers, anyone who can demonstrate emotional intelligence is at an advantage at work. (Huczynski and Buchanan 1985) Whilst as a manager I feel I can demonstrate positive emotional intelligence, if we relate this to Jane, it is clear that she lacks some of the dimensions, thereby leaving her at a disadvantage to the group. This can then impact on her behaviour thus compounding her views of her role within the team.
For example motivation is one of the dimensions, Jane has no motivation, only what I would consider negative motivation to not be a part of the team, therefore her achievements are poor and her commitment to the organisation is lacking. Mettler (1998) further argues that self motivation is more achievable than that which is imposed from the external environment; Jane had no motivation and no matter who motivating I or the team were, she would not achieve. We can further look at motivation as a separate concept for understanding Jane and this issue.
Motivation can be a powerful tool in your own life, from the very basic of getting dressed in the morning to the more critical of being studious and preparing for an exam. Motivation with the workplace is also a powerful tool. It can not only impact on the individual but can have a dramatic effect on the workforce. It can also be intentional or unintentional. As already argued, self determined motivation has more powerful outcomes than derived motivation. Motivation can be seen as a socially learnt construct, it is how we have learnt to behave in such a way, whether that be positively or negatively.
The motivation of the team during the busy period over the summer was one of trying to continue with the high performance the team held at the beginning of the year. The experience of knowing you were the highest performing team, meeting the key performance indicators was fresh in the minds of the team; it was, one could argue, the norm of the team. The team were motivated to perform in the same way, and to receive the same accolade of being the highest performing team. Although the above was a major influence on the team, due to the nature of the work carried out by the team there is also the factor of ‘good practice’.
Social work by its very nature is an interpersonal exchange of good practice. Good practice relies on a high performing team, which in turn relies on the resources within the team to allow for such good practice. Before our busy period and before Jane returned to her substantial post, the resources were within the team at what could be described as an adequate level. Workers felt able to perform well and carry out good practice. During the summer these resources were greatly reduced and this impacted on their ability to perform as well as they wanted. However their motivation, lbeit pressurised, was still strong to return to the times prior to summer. My knowledge of the team, both individually and as a group was essential in order for me to motivate and shape their behaviours. Huczynski and Buchanan (1985) describe that in order for managers to motivate employees to behave in organisationally desirable ways, they have to understand the employees preference for outcomes, strength of effort and persistence. I am very clear that all of the team, with exception of Jane, were working toward a common goal, of achieving timescales, ensuring good practice and ultimately safeguarding children.
And whilst I do not doubt Jane’s ultimate goal was not safeguarding children, her commitment of effort and persistence were lacking or more specifically diverted toward more personal goals. Looking at theories of motivation, more specifically Maslows Content Theory of Motivation (cited in Huczynski and Buchanan (1985)), we could argue that Jane is still trying to satisfy the lower levels of the hierarchy compared to other team members. It could be argued that she is still trying to satisfy her ‘safety’ needs.
The safety need for Jane could be her need to feel safe within her environment, in other words her team, her need for comfort or tranquillity. You could also argue that she was trying to satisfy her affiliation need, her need to belong, although this would not necessarily relate to a belongingness to our team, but to a team per say where her felt comfortable. Because these needs are unmet it is seen by Jane as a motivator and she is set upon satisfying these needs, but she feels she cannot do so within this current team.
Her motivation is to remove herself from this position and find other environments where her need can be met. A more pertinent aspect of Maslow’s theory is that an unmet need or a need that is not satisfied enough can result in poor mental health, which for Jane cumulated in work related stress. Although Maslow’s theory has been described by many as a universal content theory, Process theories are more concerned with the individual playing a greater role in the achieving goals. They have ‘a cognitive decision making role in selecting goals and the means by which to pursue them (Huczynski and Buchanan 1985, page 248)’
Expectancy theory describes how an individual will only be motivated by a certain task if the resultant outcome or reward is seen as being wanted or valued by the individual, they decide how they are going to perform (Chopra 2002). Because the outcome is seen as being ‘wanted’, it can motivate the individual to perform well. Content is also seen as a factor for which the individual can be motivated and perform well. If we look at Jane, it could be argued that none of these factors are satisfied for her. Although Jane would argue that she able to undertake the work within the team, she was not happy to do so.
Furthermore the outcome was not seen as a positive factor for Jane. I do believe that she did not seen an outcome at all, she just saw the fact she was ‘stuck’ in a team where she did want to be. It could also be argued however, that her leaving the team was the outcome and that actually the motivation to find another job or be moved was in actual fact what led her not to work effectively and thereby forcing managers to look at relocating her. Reflecting upon this dilemma I would like to believe that Jane did not consciously damage to team, in that she did not purposely miss timescales and cause added stress to the team.
However that dilemma is likely never to be answered. As a manager however, managing this is challenging. Although one could argue that you have the greater good of the team to consider, I also as a manager have a duty to Jane to ensure her well being is considered. On a personal note, as I briefly touched upon above, I had to contend with my own understanding of the situation and how I perceived Jane. Whilst looking at my emotional responses I know I am very self aware, I am able to, as they say, look over the edge of the cliff without falling over.
I am also acutely aware of my impact on others, and I feel that as a manager I have developed my skills of empathy and this ability as a positive trait. My role therefore as I saw it was to enlighten and empower. By enlightening Jane, in a non threatening way, to the impact her behaviour was having on the team, it would hopefully provoke Jane’s need to be safe. She would hopefully see that if she changed her behaviour then the team would behave in a different way, thereby satisfying her safety need.
Huczynski and Buchanan (1985) describe empowerment as being ‘a general term describing organisational arrangements that give employees more autonomy, discretion and decision making responsibility (Huczynski and Buchanan 1985, p. 263)’ Although the very nature of front line social work does not allow for empowerment as described above to be fully implemented, due to policies and guidance. , through supervision with Jane, and by having frank discussions with her, it can be implemented on a more practical and personal level.
By using open and honest communications with Jane, Jane would be able to take more control of her emotional responses. I also worked through Jane’s perception that she was unable to perform. By using the safe environment of supervision and by working through each case step by step, encouraging her to make the decisions regarding the outcomes and necessary support, this empowered her on a practice level. As mentioned above, on a personal level, supervision is a safe environment to discuss and challenge our views and values. Jane could use this as a way of empowering herself to change her situation.
Jane’s use of this forum was a long process which had to be dealt with sensitively. When Jayne returned from long term sickness, a work related stress risk assessment had to be completed and certain criteria had to be met, such a reduced case load. If at the beginning of her return to work schedule all the above factors were addressed it would have led to an ineffective outcome as most probably Jane would not have been able to take on board the issues being discussed. As her manager I had to ensure I was able to address these issues at the correct time.
As Jane’s manager I also had the conflicting task, in some respects, of managing the team, managing the concept held by the team of how Jane was represented to the team. Group formation is important to understand, as well as how a group interacts with an individual. How did the team interact with Jane, if at all? There are many texts that show the importance of groups and the impact they have on individuals, Hampton (1999) states groups are seen as having a motivating, inspiring influence on the individual, drawing the best out of him or her (Hampton (1999, p11. ) cited in Huczynski and Buchanan (1985,p 279). Furthermore, groups need to have team players. I think it is fair to say, that Jane would not be classed as a team player, and as a result the output of the team is affected, and the group as a whole is unable to influence or inspire. Exploring further the workings of the group, the work being undertaken by the group, again plays an integral role. Borrill and West (2005) describe how the correlation between task and performance. Further research by Steiner (1972) identified and allotted certain tasks based on the interdependence of the group. Borrill and West, 2005 and Steiner (1972) cited in Huczynski and Buchanan, 1985) So, using this application, it could be argued that the task undertaken by the team was an additive task, in that the same task is undertaken by each member and the overall performance of the team is measured, rather than the least talented member (conjunctive task) or the most talented member (disjunctive task). Part of our performance is measured overall, on how many assessments were completed within timescales or how many visits were undertaken in timescales.
Senior managers are only interested in the overall performance of the team. However as a middle manager, I extrapolate more detailed performance information. It is essential in understanding and addressing performance issues. Because the team did additive tasks, social loafing can be present, and is concerned with. Abadzi (2006) describes how individuals make less effort to perform and achieve goals when they are in a group, and the size of the group can impact of this loafing as the smaller the group the more the individual has to interact.
However a more decisive decision to exert less effort and allow others to perform is more synonymous to social loafing. The efforts of the team, as already mentioned, was to achieve the high performance that was achieved before the summer. There was no ‘social loafing’. However once Jane returned, one could argue that she exhibited such behaviours. Her effort was lacking, as was her commitment and she relied upon others. As a manager this is an issue that needs to be addressed, however in Jane’s case, as mentioned previously, It had to be factored into her return to work plan.
Clear objectives and timescales were given to Jane in order to achieve our goals. In the research carried out by Furumo (2009) it was clear that ‘better team oversight by managers is likely to limit social loafing by deadbeats which may resolve some of the conflict in teams as well. (Furumo 2009) Moving on slightly from groups, informal organisations are found within groups and are concerned with the relationships between the members of the group. Structures can be found and again they can have an impact on the group as a whole. (Srivastava, 2005)
The team over the summer developed into a tightly knit informal organisation. They were able to support each other due to their shared experiences. As with many experiences, when the experience is shared and is seen as highly emotive you become closer in order to share the emotion. Jane did not experience the summer, and when she returned after the summer, it was a difficult task for her to be accepted, because not only did she not have that shared experience, the consensus of the team was that her time off was engineered by her and therefore self inflicted.
If we look back at Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs and how Jane was not satisfying her affiliation need, if we look further at the Human Relations Approach, we could argue that Jane was not meeting her need to belong. As a management process the Human Relations Approach is concerned with the importance of the social processes at work, in other words the social relationships between both management and the team and within team itself (informal organisations), it is also concerned with the members need to belong (Srivastava, 2005).
Because of Jane’s status within the group, her ability to be productive and to some extent her ability to cooperate with others and management was effected, because of her social relationships. It is obvious that positive relations, whether that be between myself, the team manager and the team, or within the team itself is beneficial to our performance, although this should be further defined as the performance in the context of the relationships between the team and not as productivity of the team.
It was important to acknowledge and understand that if the team is not healthy, if the team has poor relations, then in turn their ability for perform is affected. Therefore as a manager my role is to ensure relationships are strong within the team and that there is a balance between the work and social need of the team. Some would argue that argue actually a Behaviourist Approach to management is more appropriate as it is less concerned with social relations but more with leadership styles and motivation. My expectations of the team are inline with the expectations of myself.
Huczynski and Buchanan (1985) describes Homan’s model of group formation details how the background factors and the required behaviours, those that are expected by managers, followed by actual behaviours and outcomes is the process by which a group is formed (Huczynski and Buchanan (1985). The required behaviours within our team are, as well as following guidance and policy; it is meeting timescales, and increasing performance, working together and being supportive. The emergent behaviours are the behaviours that actual happen. This is where norms are developed within the team.
These informal group norms have an important part to play and as managers, again we need to have an understanding what they are. (Klein 1998). Intergroup context is also important as research in Social identity theory shows us that one element of the theory is to understanding the context of the group and its relation to the power of the group (Huddy 2004). It also shows us that ‘the more members identify with their respective groups, the more likely they are to actively contribute to the welfare of the group and work towards common goals'(Tajfel and Turner, 1986 cited in Andrews et al (2008).
One of the norms of the team over the summer was to work overtime. The norm developed over the summer, due to the workloads being increased. The norm was not a formal norm or rule, but the group individually and collectively decided to work overtime. As a group, this was a norm they were happy to adopt, however Jane was not. Jane demonstrated that she was not happy to adopt this informal norm developed by the team, further alienating herself from the team. To look further at the group, group cohesion in the organisational context is paramount.
The effective cohesion of a group can ultimately lead to harmony between team members and high performance and productivity. Because Jane placed higher importance on her own needs, which is not necessarily wrong, but more specifically was unable to balance her own needs to that of the team, cohesion was lacking. Rovio et al (2009) recognise the link between group cohesion and performance, noting that its reciprocal, and that performance can also cement group cohesion. Klein (1998) describes how group cohesion is greater when three factors interact with each others.
These are friendships, shared frame of reference and shared values. When this is not apparent, group cohesion fails. As I have mentioned above, Jane was a member of the team before the summer, she then went off with work related stress and did not experience the busy period. She then returned towards the later part of the summer and had a protected caseload therefore she again did not experience the high volume of work her peers were experiencing, she is not only a member of the informal organisation (friendship), she does not have a shared frame of reference to work within.
Social Representations Theory explores how Jane was perceived by the team following her return to work. Where there is a new member of any group the values, beliefs and objectives of the group are transferred to the new member. (Huczynski and Buchanan 1985) Jane was shown by the group their values and norms created and developed during her time off. Because Jane chose not to follow these collective norms, she was not seen as being a member of their team. The cohesion of the group was dependant on Jane accepting these new values, and beliefs and adopting them to her practice.
The increase in pressure from the group for Jane to accept the norms and values of the group were evident, in that she was to some extent ‘sent to Coventry’. This in itself is a powerful tool for any group to use, and can, as one would expect, have two results. Jane has to choose whether to change her behaviour and become more of a team player. The team have defined how the team works and that there is no deviation from these norms. Jane has to choose either to become a part of the team or not.
My role as a manager is two fold. I have to ensure that the group are not being oppressive in their nature, towards Jane. I also have to support whichever outcome Jane chooses to make. Obviously as a manager, I would want to support Jane in becoming a member of the team and working together effectively and efficiently, however should Jane choose her other option, as a manager I have to respect that decision and ensure that she is able to do this as quickly as possibly with as less a impact on the eam as possible. Reflecting back on the previously mentioned emotional responses, the later choice would mean that my own values and work ethics would be at the forefront of my responses; however I would have to remain professional and efficient in dealing with Jane. REFERENCES Abadzi, H (2006) Efficient learning for the poor: insights from the frontier of cognitive Neuroscience (Directions in Development); USA, World Bank Publications. Available at http://books. google. co. uk/books? d=kn62phyvFpwC&pg=PA254&dq=Efficient+learning+for+the+poor:+insights+from+the+frontier+of+cognitive+Neuroscience+(Directions+in+Development&lr=&as_brr=0&cd=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false [Accessed 10 January 2010] Andrews M, Kacmar K, Blakely G and Bucklew N (2008) Group Cohesion as an Enhancement to the Justice-Affective Commitment Relationship Journal of Group & Organization Management [online] December 2008 33 (6) 736-755 Available from: http://gom. sagepub. com/cgi/content/abstract/33/6/736 [Accessed January 9, 2010] Bandura, A. (1977) Social Learning Theory.
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