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Involving employees into a decision-making process is often highly recommended as a way to increase motivation and, thus, effectiveness and efficiency of operations. However, sometimes managers might obtain unexpected results or be advised by the staff to take on inappropriate decisions. This matter happened with Alvis Corporations’ production manager. Thus, fifteen employees that had been asked to participate in the process provided the inadequate solution on one issue. They did not decide anything on one another. Namely, when asked to update production standards in accordance with the new equipment possibilities, workers advised sustaining with the old requirements for the number of units to be produced for the base salary. The new equipment allows making more units within the same time; and it naturally suggests that the standard number of items paid within the base salary should be increased accordingly. However, it would downgrade salaries (and wealth) of workers involved in the discussion as well. Consequently, they are not interested in adequacy of standards but rather prefer being paid higher total salaries as they can finish more goods in total and have a better incentive part without putting more efforts to attain this purpose. The second decision related to vacation planning was not accepted by the group of employees at all. However, as there was a need to change the existing system, making no decision could not be considered as an appropriate option was to solve the problem.
While participative style is a strong approach to motivate people working in an organization, a manager should properly implement it on practice in order to achieve the expected results. Unfortunately, the production supervisor Kathy made several mistakes in the first experience on this way. First of all, as members of the invited group of employees were new ones in a decision-making process, Kathy should have explained in detail what had been expected from them and provided clear alternatives to choose from. Besides, there actually was no necessity to leave the group alone for the discussion. The manager could take on a mitigating role during this meeting. Being present with the team, Kathy could direct the conversation on some standards upgrade due to the new equipment to the correct route. She could as well separate it from the issue of inflationary changes and the need to adjust base salaries of employees. Also, she could define pros and cons of the current system to stipulate the order of taking annual leaves as well as its alternative version.
Another important mistake of the manager was an inability to consider and mitigate the potential conflict of interests inside the group and with the company’s goals. There could not be any sound decision made on the vacation scheduling process as the discussing persons were directly involved and impacted by the decision made. Therefore, any proposed alternative would appear to be more favorable for one community of employees and negatively influenced the others. Thus, such issue could not be decided by the interested employees but they could provide alternatives on the brain storming if properly asked by the manager.
Employees of the production department are usually not involved in making managerial decisions. Consequently, their first time of participation in this process should not directly require deciding but could rather involve discussing possible alternatives. Besides, as mentioned above, the proposed decisions would be more appropriate if they did not incorporate significant conflicts of interest. For this reason, timing of vacations could be better decided by Kathy only. However, she could discuss it with the invited team to gather their opinions on the system. Similarly, there was a conflict of interests between department employees and the company when the issue of higher standards for the unit production was discussed. When introducing participation, the manager could focus not on the quantity standards but rather on the problems with quality. As it has been mentioned in the case, after starting the production on new items, the department faced continuous problems with the quality. Consequently, this issue should have been investigated and discussed with employees when Kathy intended to use their participation in managing the company. Also, in relation to workers, it might be more appropriate to discuss the base salaries level in terms of inflationary impacts to compensate the proposed change in production standards, which would negatively impact incentive portions.
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There is a wide variety of leadership behaviors that might inspire subordinates and employees when utilized by a manager. In this case, Marsha used a combination of them in order to change the situation and help workers get involved in the business. First of all, Marsha succeeded in building trust with the group while becoming familiar with them and defining each one’s competencies, experience, and attitude to working in the branch. Communicating with the personnel honestly and directly, the manager was able to determine some reasons for poor motivation and, respectively, underperformance. Secondly, Marsha demonstrated an ability to act with integrity when she formulated the strategic objective and emphasized its importance for the team, while meeting with the bank’s headquarters and top managers. Being confident that the strategic goal could be achieved, she also brought some inspiration and optimism. Finally, Marsha used two important development behaviors such as coaching people and rewarding achievement. The manager was able to negotiate a variety of training opportunities for the branch workers with headquarters and the training department. Additionally, she personally got involved into training her own subordinated managers and organized cross-training of employees rotating them from one department of the branch to the other one. The development programs allowed experienced and highly qualified workers to get an opportunity to promote for higher positions in the bank and improve customer servicing procedures and overall efficiency of operations. It rewarded the promoted specialists and improved their motivation considerably. Moreover, all workers of the branch were rewarded for training new managers of the bank through financial bonuses and recognition of their importance for the organization’s success.
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Having a clear vision is an essential part of leading any business to the successful future. It can be noticed from the case that Marsha had introduced strategy to the branch management, including the vision and strategic objectives. Overall, her vision of the future is based on two main goals. First, she aims to get recognized as the best branch providing training of the bank’s managers. Second, Marsha intends to improve dealing with customers so that the group of employees managed to provide quality servicing to its clients. Both these goals are rather difficult to combine in one vision as the high turnover of supervisors and other workers trained by the branch for other divisions of the bank ensures a constant need to deal with the inexperienced personnel and team building problems. However, making these goals known to her managers and branch’s employees Marsha achieved the recognition of their importance and transparency in operations. Thus, the manager views her branch office as the most valuable training center of the bank’s executives and other workers, which effectively utilizes an exceptional experience of the own staff to provide high quality banking services to customers. It should be noticed also that the case demonstrates how setting a transparent and formalized vision can lead an organization to success in practice. Namely, Marsha’s strategic objective has changed the workers’ attitude towards their work in the branch. It has become a strong stimulating factor for improving the position of this office in the bank’s network and in relationships with clients.
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Reviewing actions taken by the new manager of the branch office, for the most part of Marsha’s actions, as a transformational leader, demonstrates some features of the charismatic leadership. In particular, she was extremely successful in inspiring changes in the branch office of the bank and accomplished to do it by setting her vision and strategic objectives. Her openness to communication with employees and subordinates indicates that this manager actively uses a participative approach. It is also supported by the fact that Marsha decided to provide her subordinated managers constant opportunities to represent the branch at corporate meetings and get involved in making important business choices. Additionally, she demonstrated her transformational approach through establishing a strong team with the employees and achieving their commitment to the formulated strategic goals. Importantly, Marsha is characterized as rather a transformational leader and not charismatic. It is related to the fact that she has established opportunities for branch employees to get promoted and leave the division for the higher positions instead of making them the dependent followers of her office. Still, as she joined the section in a crisis situation (poor motivation and performance), her personality obviously played a significant role in the change. However, Marsha used some elements of charismatic leadership when transforming the division for the better future. It would be inappropriate in this case to fully use a charismatic approach as people working in the branch needed the recognition of their value and get an opportunity to participate in the managing process. Therefore, they could apply their experiences, which was impossible when a leader aimed to make workers follow the own decisions only.
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