The subject of Organizational Behavior strategies


First session was dedicated to the introduction of the subject 'Organizational Behavior'. During this introductory session, we discovered that this subject is not only related to human resources but it also includes several other factors such as psychology, sociology, political science, economics, anthropology, etc. It is also related to the Management skills and personal development skills.

As we are discussing about management skills, I would like to mention the 'Changing cage case' written by J.R. Schermerhorn et al. which deals with the organizational structure and environment and hierarchical positions. I believe that each and every organization needs to adapt to the changes in the market. In this process they need to restructure their processes, organizational structure, communication process, etc. This change management is necessary and we saw that in this phenomenon every manager reacts in a different manner and that can cause positive or negative results in the organization. In the case, author put a solid emphasis on the consequences occurred by changing the 'cage'. It simultaneously underlined different ways of managing the teams and departments. If we discuss the issues highlighted in this case, then I would like to underline the issue of leadership. And to add further, we can observe the issues related to the understanding of the working unit, and lack of autonomy. This phenomenon is true to an extent because as explained in the book 'Reframing organizations' by Bolman and Deal, organizations are ambiguous and complex. We need to avoid ambiguity and remove complexity while restructuring.

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I would like to relate this discussion to my personal experience. I was working in the call center called WNS Global Services, India and was working in the shifts mostly night shift as we were handling processes for Air Canada. We were working in two teams English and French as these are two official languages of Canada. I was in the French team of 12 members whereas English team was of 50 members. There was a lot of stress and full concentration was necessary. To overcome the problems and to help the teams to drive the better results, various extra services were provided by the company. These services included free pick up and drop facility, huge cafeteria, game sections, various contracts with gymnasiums, etc. Sometimes HR department were giving us the shifts as per our demand and not forcing us to work as per their wish. These extra facilities helped us to work stress free during our work time and the team members were very loyal to their work.

We also studied other factors that affect the environment of the company. These factors can be divided into four categories namely individual level, group level, organizational level and field level. Individual level consists of the personality issues, preferences, individual culture and the fact of putting the blame on one person. Group level consists of group identity and group interaction. Organizational level consists of flow of information and power levels (hierarchy), career plans and other systems. And last, field level consists of the work environment.

With this overview on the subject, I can say that organizations are complex and changing the work environment can cause various issues. Human interactions, taken into consideration various factors, are complicated and that makes the effect on group interaction and behavior.

Session 2

This session commences from revising the key concepts discussed in the last session. And right after the revision process, we moved to the Micro Manager case study. Every manager has its own style of managing his team and way of giving the feedback. Also we have to note that human behavior plays an important role in this case. Here, in Micro Manager Case, the marketing director is short tempered. They explained the feedback process of CEO.

We can divide this kind of behavior into three points. First is control. Marketing manager has to be given certain amount of autonomy in this case. The decision making power was very limited. Second part is trust. Trust and confidence plays a very important role in any organization. In this case, if we consider CEO's point of view, he was having high expectations for his marketing director and obviously because of this, he was considering her performance level as very low. And last part is personality. Thus, to summarize the issues of this case, we can say there was lack of trust, problems with process control and output control and delegation of work from the CEO's side. And to mention marketing director's side, there was lack of self-confidence and motivation and she takes things personally.

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If we relate this case to the normal day to day life, we can say that this fact of Micro manager is not successful in the organizations to some extent. There are of course other affecting factors are also important like personality and individual behavior, the situation and the context and the corporate culture. Thus, to sum this case we can say that micro managing is not always good for the company but in some cases it can reduce the morale of the employees.

The way of giving feedback is also very important. As per my previous experience, my manager was having peculiar style of giving feedback. She as a team leader micro managed my work. Initially it is very frustrating but she built a very strong professional relationship and good communication which makes me confortable in that situation afterwards.

We also studied the case of Bill Gore and his ways of managing team. While studying this case I felt that Strong leadership is the key factor building the corporate culture and structure. The vertical or flat organizational structure was very innovative in this case which also makes this case very special. His recruitment style and this type of organizational structure drive him to achieve the results. Thus, we should understand the difference between managers and leaders and the new approach of reducing the amount of bosses and increasing the leaders is very effective in its way despite of complexity.

We further moved to the social networking model in which we studied the relationship between different people, structural holes and various clusters. This model is very important to understand the structural holes and the corporate cultural despite of company's very efficient structure. In addition, while understanding these structural holes, the proper understanding of strong and weak ties of communication can be related to the similar kind of ties between a certain group and individuals. (Mark Granovetter, 1973)

We further studied different types of leadership and I would like to underline mainly two types Transformational leadership and Transactional leadership. Transformational leadership is the type of leadership in which a leader makes successful transformation or changes of the organization. But he has to make sure that the transformation takes place in regards with the corporate culture, structure of the organization and the individuals working in that organization. (Noel M. Tichy and David O. Ulrich, 2008) Transactional leadership is the type of leadership where leader believes in the motivational theories and thus rewards and punishments. In this kind of leadership, leader sets a goal with instructions and the positive result gets rewarded whereas negative result gets punishment. The leader also makes sure that the work is allocated according to the available resources.

Session 3

This session starts with the recap of the last two sessions. After discussing the main concepts and key points from last two sessions we moved to the very interesting and easy to understand case 'Bobs Meltdown'. This case is relatively easy and the issues discussed in this case are very simple to identify. But I feel that CEO's role was a bit challenging and the main factor of power politics plays an important role.

As we all know, each and every organization has certain way of power distribution. In some organizations it is equally distributed whether in some organizations it is very much centered to upper hierarchy. When it comes to individuals, this all factor becomes very complicated. A good leader has to understand this distribution of power, corporate culture, and organizational structure and has to take the decisions accordingly. Thus, I believe that CEO should solve the issues between their team taken into consideration these effecting factors and that to without making any harm to the organization.

Knowledge Management is also essential for any company. We studied this new term in context of the Bobs meltdown case. This is not a new concept. Most of the companies in the real world adapt to the changes of the market to survive and those who resist to survive are vanished or had enormous effect on their market share. The best example of this is Kodak. Organizational cultural is very rigid and people don't like changes. Some people can bring about dramatic changes in an organization that the power automatically gets distributed towards them. We all know that if we share the knowledge it grows. Thus, to manage the company efficiently and to respond to the changing market, CEO's decision to bring new person for this activity was adequate.

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Moving further ahead in the session, we discussed second case 'Welcome aboard'. This is the best example like Kodak, where one person in charge wanted to bring the changes in the organization to better respond to the changing market conditions and the members of the company including higher or senior level members resist changing. The perfect mélange of the importance of transformation of the company and power politics and organizational structure is the crux of this case. As previously mentioned, these two factors play very important role while it comes to the transformation. A good leader has to take into consideration these factors to avoid the barriers in the transformation process or to ensure the smoothness of the process.

Thus, to sum this session, we can say understanding of power politics and institutional logic means the ability to take decisions taking into consideration these various aspects such as individual behavior, power politics, etc.

Session 4

This session starts as usual with the discussion of previously learnt concepts. After this quick recap, we moved to the two important case studies 'Mann Gulch Fire Disaster' and 'Tenerife Air Disaster'. First we discussed Mann Gulch Fire Disaster the case which highly deals with the group thinking and sense making in the rapidly changing conditions. These two cases mainly deal with group dynamism. The ability of a group to think and react accordingly in the unexpected situations also called 'the cosmology episode'. According to Karl E. Weick, cosmology is a branch of philosophy which combines rational speculation and scientific evidence, specifically studied under metaphysics. To better explain this phenomenon, we can say it is the way of thinking to predict the fore coming things based on certain logic. The cosmology episode is in reality a very opposite phenomenon. It is a rapidly changing situation and in which the leader or the person making critical decision feels lost. It is simply because he can't relate this changing situation to his past experiences.

The Mann Gulch case deals with such a phenomenon. In this case, the 13 firemen miss calculate or miss understand the intensity of fire and died. Further, the author tries to compare this situation with other organizations. He tries to compare the situation in which the firefighters are trapped with the daily life situation in the companies where some unpredicted events occur. When things go normal according to plan, business models, corporate culture play an important role. But, when the cosmology episode happens, all comes to the rational thinking of the decision maker and the ability of making sense in these catastrophic situations.

The identity also plays an important role in these situations. Sense making and identity are the major concepts which are tightly related. (Clemens Ruling, 2001) In this case when, Dodge asks his team to throw their tools and run, they were not able to do because their sense of identity. It is very critical to establish the strong sense of identity between individual and organizations in the sense making. We have to also note that Dodge somehow managed to escape the fire and save his life. If we compare this phenomenon to the companies, we can say it is the action or protective measure taken by the company in the cosmology episode to save itself.

Further in the session, we moved to the 'Tenerife Air Disaster'. The case deals with the collision of KLM and Pan Am which results into the loss of 583 people. According to the series 'Air Crash Investigations' aired on National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel main causes of the air crashes are the language problem i.e. the difference of language between pilots and Ground flight controllers, maintenance issues which includes ignoring certain necessary steps to save time. In this case, pilot ignores certain set of steps (protocol) and later finds himself into trouble as mentioned in the case. If we compare this same situation in the organizational context, we can observe that many times especially before the crisis, basic fundamentals were constantly ignored.

If we consider other important factors which contributed to this crash is the lack of communication between pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit, bad weather conditions and the stress. As mentioned in the Air Crash Investigations, no single error can lead to this enormous effect. There are series of errors and events which come together in perfect timing which leads to such a disaster. Sometimes these errors and events are avoidable but sometimes not.

Session 5