A Case analysis Organizational Behavior
Business is about people; customers are people, suppliers are people, managers are people, and the employees are people. Whenever we bring people together into an organization or team, the group will develop its own personality representing a conglomeration of all members of the group, but strongly influenced by the dominant person or people.
We have the potential for turbulence when we bring people together in groups. Groups of people have the potential for many problems and for much greatness. The effective management of people in groups requires that we know how to enhance the good behaviors while also removing the impedi-ments to peak performance. The challenge can be to know the difference between which behaviors are really good and which are actually harmful.
Managers make gallant attempts to do the right thing, but are at a disadvantage because they maintain relationships with the group they monitor or regulate. Friendships and rivalries occur within groups, which make it difficult to maintain an unbiased perspective. It is difficult to accurately diagnose problems within our own organization while being influenced by the interpersonal relationships.
Managers often cannot see the root causes of problems within their own organization and this can have a significant effect on the decision making process. The best solution is to utilize the services of an independent outsider who is not part of the internal politics of the organization.
Conflict is a natural occurrence within most organizations. Talented people tend to have strong personalities and are comfortable being in a dominant role that raises the conflict level within the group or team. There are many conflict resolution strategies available to the manager, but the wrong strategy is often selected and the conflict is simply suppressed instead of being addressed. This leads to problems: Attempting to manage to reduce turbulence caused by conflict usually leads to group think, which is very dangerous.
The wrong strategy allows the conflict to remain, but the turbulence is suppressed in a manner that it returns with a different look and feel; and with a new set of problems.
When managers seek to manage down the path of least resistance, it often causes trouble. We recently reviewed a decision to purchase a large piece of equipment. The company‘s vendor, who maintained a close relationship with the general manager, wanted to install equipment from the former market leader with a reputation for quality, but whose products were so out of date that it was no longer economical in the current energy environment. The company engineering manager wanted to install a similar component from the new market leader that is known for innovative products that perform very well and economical. The impasse stalled the project for several months as both parties felt they were acting in the best interest of the company.
The engineering manager left the company for another opportunity and his replacement was asked to provide an opinion on the purchase decision. The new manager asked the opinion of his most knowledgeable subordinate and was advised to just tell the general manager what he wanted to hear so that it would be his fault if there was a problem. That same subordinate would never have given that same advice to the previous manager, because the previous manager had not managed avoid conflict. This illustrates a serious problem with managing in an environment where subordinate input is based on a dependency relationship.
One of the most difficult problems facing management today is that of getting reliable input from subordinates. Subordinates usually provide input that will prevent them from being responsible for a bad decision instead of providing expert input. When we manage to reduce conflict, most subordinates will tell the boss what they think the boss wants to hear instead of telling them what they need to hear. This is an early warning sign of group think and usually leads to ineffective decision-making. The most effective way to avoid these kinds of problems is to introduce a person whose job is to represent a devil‘s advocate position to introduce a controlled level of conflict that helps people offer their own fresh and expert perspectives. A Time-Slice consultant can work with management to independently help create an operating environment that avoids these organizational traps.