The three management role categories according to Lussier are interpersonal roles, informational roles, and decisional roles. The interpersonal role includes the figurehead, leader, and liaison (Lussier, 2011, pg. 14). Great managers at this level are effective communicators, trainers, and hold a great deal of trust with their employers. Those that are regarded as the great interpersonal leaders empower their employees. Research aimed at discovering whether empowerment as a managerial necessity is a fad concludes that it assuredly is not a fad (Maynard, Gilson, & Mathieu, 2012). According to Maynard et al. "empowerment represents a way to align employees' talents and motivations with work demands" (2012, pg. 1272). The informational role includes monitor, disseminator, and spokesperson (Lussier, 2011, pg. 14). Great informational managers are communicative, organize information and relay it to the teams accordingly, and uphold the vision of top-management. The decisional role includes entrepreneur, disturbance handler, and resource allocator, and negotiator (Lussier, 2011, pg. 14). Decisional managers are creative, organized, and effective communicators in tense situations.
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The three levels of management according to Lussier are top managers, middle managers, and first-line managers (2011, pg. 15). Top managers are those managers in executive positions and define the company's objectives and long-term strategy among other things (Lussier, 2011, pg. 15). Top managers "influence their organizations through formulating and implementing strategy" (Raes, Heijltjes, Glunk, & Roe, 2011, p. 104). My company is undergoing a change in our top management right now. Paul Maritz, the current CEO of VMware, is changing roles to work in top management of our parent company, EMC. Paul is an example of a great leader. Consistently voted as one of the most influential leaders in technology, he is also regarded as a great leader internally. In 2011, the Silicon Valley Business Journal named Paul Maritz as their executive of the year (Samuels, 2011).
Middle managers are those that manage departments and are responsible for implementing the strategy as defined by top management (Lussier, 2011, pg. 16). Great top level managers and middle managers rely on each other's behavior "for the effective execution of strategy formulation and implementation" (Raes et al., 2011, pg. 108). As the company expands, I am seeing a large of amount middle managers being added to the organizational structure.
First-line managers are team leaders and are responsible for implementing the operational plan as designed by middle managers (Lussier, 2011, pg. 16). Effective first-line managers are those that trust and are trusted. Brower, Lester, Korsgaard, and Dineen discuss how managers who trust their employees are likely to empower them which will "enrich their experience and motivate more productive and prosocial behavior" (Brower, Lester, Korsgaard, & Dineen, 2009, pg. 330).
I have had both great and ineffective managers in my career. Currently, I can point to Mr. Maritz as a great top level manager. He is empowering and inspiring to a large number of employees making him a great interpersonal leader. My current manager, unfortunately, is an example of an ineffective middle manager. There is a lack of knowledge and communication, and therefore trust and respect is missing in the relationship. Being a part of a global organization, I find communication to be the most important quality in management, and often the one lacking the most. In my organization, I see a disparity between the top level management's mission for our organization and the execution and the middle and first-line management levels.
Chapter 2: Organizational Culture
Organizational culture, as defined by Lussier, consists of values, beliefs, and assumptions about the appropriate behavior among the members of an organization (2011, pg. 46). Organizational climate, on the other hand, is measure of the culture. The first level of organizational culture is the behavior of the employees. This is the "observable" actions of the employees. At this level, organizational culture can also be defined by five artifacts: Heroes, stories, slogans, symbols, and ceremonies (2011, pg. 50). The second level of organizational culture is the values and beliefs held by the employees. These are the guidelines by which decisions are made. The final level of organizational culture is assumptions held by the organization. As Lussier points out, the assumptions are "so deeply ingrained" that they are "rarely discussed" (2011, pg. 51).
Using meta-analytic methods of testing four culture types, Hartnell, OU, and Kinicki find that clan cultures are most like to result in positive employee attitudes (2011, pg. 688). The clan culture defined is this study is one that is a flexible and collaborative environment with a strong commitment to employee involvement (Hartnell et al, 2011, pg. 679). Also found was the correlation between market cultures and financial effectiveness. The market culture is competitive environment with a commitment to customers and productivity. Thus depending on the organizational mission, one must seek to shape the culture accordingly.
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Cicognani, Palestini, Albanesi, and Zani studied the relationship between the work organization and the employees, specifically the factors that lead to job satisfaction and turnover. Of the factors studied is the organizational sense of community, organizational identification, and perceived organizational values as a part of the culture (Cicognani, Palestini, Albanesi & Zani , 2012, pg. 1088-1091). The study distinguishes between a partner, an employee with an investment in the company and an employee, one without an investment in the company. It was concluded that a partner is likely to have a stronger sense of commitment to the company than does an employee. This may explain the policy of many companies to offer stock options to their employees as a benefit to their employment. With a vested interest in the company, they may more strongly identify themselves with the culture. It was also hypothesized that the adherence of the company to its organizational values is an important factor is determining the employees' sense of belonging and therefore the commitment to company (Cicognani et al., 2012, pg. 1110). This study confirms Lussier's teachings that employees of a strong culture behave according to the share values and beliefs (Lussier, 2011, pg. 51). Ramlall, also supporting Lussier, found that organizations with a positive culture will provide an environment with higher performance, which includes greater satisfactions, happiness, and commitment (2008, pg. 1586).
Personally, organizational culture is the single most important reason for me to accept an offer or leave a company. It's the culture that makes me feel I can work to my full potential. A culture in which my opinions and behavior are closely aligned is one in which I feel I can thrive. I work in technology in Austin, Texas where there are a few major companies in which most of my peers have either an in-depth knowledge of or have been employed there. Dell is one of these companies. It notoriously has a culture of intense behavior, quarterly lay-offs, quarterly hiring, and rigidly defined structure that assure me that my value and beliefs will never closely align to this company. I am best suited in an environment of creativity and flexibility, where the path to success is flexible. Based on the Hartnell study, I can hypothesize the ideal culture for me is a clan culture. Based on the Cicognani et al. study, I can hypothesize that having a financial stake in my company may lead to a greater sense of community. This is supported by the fact I have been with my current organization longer than any other company in my career and this is the only company thus far that I have had a vested interest.
I feel the organizational culture is shifting with my current company. Once a hard-working yet casual environment, it is shifting to a highly competitive and structured environment. I believe it is negativity affecting the performance of the company to the extent that industry analysts are even predicting that we've reached the end of an era based on the mass exodus of employee talent. With the upcoming top-level management changes, my hope is that we return to a culture that will help me perform to my full potential.
Chapter 3: What stimulates/foments creativity?
Creativity, as defined by Lussier, is a "way of thinking that generates new ideas" and can result in innovation (2011, pg. 96). The creative process has three stages: preparation, incubation, and evaluation (2011, pg. 96).
Ramlall found that organizational success is dependent on the creativity, commitment, and innovation of their employees (2008, pg. 1582). He even goes as far as saying creativity is a "central source of meaning in people's lives" (2008, pg. 1582). Thus, creativity is highly important to the success of an organization. It is the job of the managers at all levels to inspire and encourage creativity in their employees.
To inspire creativity means to encourage a new way of thinking. It means the organization cannot be stagnant; it must not only be willing to change but actually support it. In her study supporting the fact that creativity is the primary factor of change in organizations, Matthew notes that change in the organization requires leaders who:
Are willing to work independently from the organization in its current state
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Have the ability to create new ways of achieving organizational goals
Can drive change to the existing structure of the organization (Matthew, 2009)
Thus, the first and perhaps most important factor in stimulating creativity in an organization, is having leaders who are themselves, creative, independent, and strive for change.
Another important factor in inspiring creativity is group work. Lussier points out that this can result in groupthink and hinder creativity, yet it can also be a great tool in fostering a creative work environment (2011, pg. 97). Lu, Tjosvold and Shi tested the extent to which teamwork in China develops, among other things, creativity and therefore group performance. Lu et al. defines creativity as involving and developing novel ideas and practices. They submit that creativity depends on teamwork (Lu, Tjosvold & Shi, 2010, pg. 105). Through the study of a team workshop and the data analysis of team feedback, it was found that "group potency, creativity, and productivity were all found to be outcomes of cooperative goals and constructive controversy" (Lu et al., 2010, pg. 125). The presence of open-minded discussions of a wide range of ideas was found to be an important factor for teams to develop creative processes (Lu et al, 2010, pg. 126).
My personal experience at my current company is no longer one of creativity. Teamwork leads to groupthink and creativity is not a trait that is encouraged unfortunately. Even in the creation of new programs and processes, old programs and processes are generally heavily leveraged. Brand new ideas are usually met with disapproval. Not having any insight into the decisions that drive change at the top-level of management, I theorize that it is this apparent change in thinking that has recently caused a change in management. Based on the study by Lu et al I would suggest that my company learn to value teamwork as a way of generating new ideas and forcing creativity into the culture. Of course to do this, Matthews would argue creative leaders would first need to be in place. Thus, additional management shifts would need to occur beyond the top-level, and include middle managers and first-line managers.
Chapter 5: Organizational Structure
The organizational structure defines the relationship between members of an organization and their jobs (Lussier, 2011, pg. 174).
Pleshko and Nickerson studied four basic types of organizational structure: formalization, integration, centralization, and complexity. Formalization is a rigid structure, using procedures and rules to define the roles of employees. This structure sets specific guidelines on how, when, and by whom tasks are performed. Integration refers to a structure in which there is coordination among the different specializations. Centralization is a structure in which all major decisions are left to top-level management. Finally, complexity is a structure organized in other ways including geographically, number of hierarchal levels, and span of control (Pleshko & Nickerson, 2008, pg. 97-98). Given the inconsistent findings for the relationship between the organizational structure and company performance, Pleshko and Nickerson deduce that a "fit" must exist between the structure and the firm to achieve high levels of performance (Pleshko & Nickerson, 2008, pg. 98). Therefore, to achieve optimal performance standards, the company must align their strategy with their organizational structure. It is not one specific organizational structure that is the most effective, it is the organizational fit that matters most.
O'Leary, Mortensen, and Woolley analyze organizational structure from a different perspective: team vs. individuals. The study was conducted to understand if multiple team membership, structures in which employees are part of multiple projects at a time, increases organizational productivity. It was concluded that it can be a benefit to productivity in the absence of the cost of multitasking (O'leary, Mortensen, & Woolley, 2011, pg. 473). In this team structure, it recommended that schedules do not overlap in such a way that deadlines line up. "Multiple team membership can lead to simultaneous multitasking and overly frequent task switching (O'leary et al, 2011, pg. 474). This can be mitigated, however, with the proper management of schedules. When properly managed, it is concluded that organizational teams that are the most effective.
In my industry, the technology industry, there are typically two types of organizational structures. The more prevalent organization is by department. For example, marketing, operations, program management, engineering, sales, etc. The other is divided by verticals, or business unit. For example, SMB (small and medium business), enterprise, public, education, federal, etc. According the research defined by Pleshko and Nickerson, I would define these as formalization and integration. According to Lussier, I would define this as customer departmentalization (2011, pg. 176). My company has the typical organization by department, however some department are further divided by vertical. As mentioned earlier, we are undergoing major management changes this month, thus I am expecting organizational changes to take place in the near future as well. My company can also be defined as a tall organization, which indicates many levels of management (Lussier, 2011, pg. 167). The company is expanding rapidly and creating more layers of manager to the organization literally every quarter.
Chapter 6: Diversity
Diversity in the workplace is an important factor to organizational success. Lussier defines diversity as the "degree of differences among members of a group" (2011, pg. 210). These differences can come in many forms, the most studied being race/ethnicity, gender, and age. Other differences could be personality, work ethic, time commitment, etc. Common sense dictates that if all members of a group think alike and act alike, innovation and creativity are stifled. Therefore, the organization will suffer as a whole. Studies also find that diversity can cause disagreement when there is a lack of understanding of those different from you.
Surprisingly, King, Dawson, West, Gilrane, Peddie, and Bastin found an inconsistent relationship between diversity and team performance in teams (2011, pg.1113). "Employee ethnic diversity seemed to get in the way of civility toward service recipients and, ultimately, organizational performance" (King, Dawson, West, Gilrane, Peddie, & Bastin, 2011, pg. 2011). It is noted that diversity should be studied as it is relevant to the community, whereas this study did not take this into consideration. It is hypothesized that community diversity may play an equally important role when studying organizational diversity. King et al. appears aware of potential flaws in the study that may have skewed the results.
In diverse groups, common ground must be found otherwise communication and cooperation can be hindered. In a study on diversity in the workplace and how it can benefit teams, Kearney, Gebert, and Voelpel found the following:
Cognition is necessary among team members for a diverse team to function properly
Educational and age diversity positivity affect team function
Motivation to engage is necessary
Age diversity has a negative effects on team performance
Diversity must be studied in different cultures
Personality can have a large impact on performance (Kearney, Gebert, & Voelpel, 2009, pgs. 593-595)
My company's staff is incredibly diverse given that it is a multi-national corporation. On my team of five people alone, we are represented by two Indians, one Indian-American, one Asian-American, and two Americans. We represent two different countries, and two states within the United States. Some are married, some are single. Some have children, some don't. We range from the age of 24 to 49. I believe it is this degree of diversity that makes us efficient and productive. Those in India tend to have a transactional way of thinking; they focus on making sure all tasks are completed in any way necessary. Those of us located in the states tend to focus on process improvement above anything else. Thus, projects are always completed in a timely manner. Also contributing to our effectiveness is the understanding of each other's culture. Where the diversity in the group could lead to potential communication breakdowns, we work well together given our understanding of each other's attitudes and beliefs. Outside of my immediate group, diversity is even more apparent. Primary operations are located in Palo Alto, California, yet we have major operational offices in Austin, Texas, Bangalore, India, and Cork Ireland. Satellite offices are located on every continent. Thus, as the research has proven, it is imperative for my company to find common ground among all of these diverse groups in order to drive toward an effective and productive environment.
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