AGBONIFO I. STEPHEN ASSINGMENT CASE #1, DICK SPENCER 06 SEMPTEMBER, 2010 The article of Dick Spencer describes the meeting between Dick Spencer, a successful businessman and a couple of his friends who were university professors. The conversation of their meeting dwelt on Spencer and the “management issues” he encountered at Tri-American Company both as an assistant manager in the company and then a plant manager of the Modrow branch.
The management style of Spencer was examined in detail by the article and a number of problems that he encountered were revealed. This paper is based on the information provided in the article and is divided into two sections. The first section discusses four reasons for the difficulties that Dick Spencer encountered. The second section offers suggestions that Dick Spencer could have used to address the Issues he encountered. REASONS DICK SPENCER ENCOUNTED DIFFICULTIES The myriad of problems faced by Dick Spencer can be traced to four causes.
The issues began with Dick Spencer having a dramatic shift from a sales person position where he had fame and was recognized as an outstanding employee and have carved a name for himself to a position in management. His management style and strategy was often considered too strict coupled with the fact that he developed a habit of walking around his organization; these issues conflicted with the work flow in Tri American Company, producing low morale and a resistance to change among employees.
This shift highlighted some shortcomings in his career as a manager and thwarted some of his efforts to produce an immediate positive change around the company. RESISTANCE TO CHANGE Structural inertia is another name for resistance to change and is a resistance that is rooted in the size, complexity, and interdependence of an organization’s structures, systems, and formal processes.
According Tushman & O’Reilly (1999) this interdependence develops over time as organizations evolve from smaller, simpler entities into larger, more complex entities. In stable environments, structural inertia doesn’t much matter because any changes that are necessary are usually smaller and more manageable. In shifting environments, as in the one confronted by Dick Spencer, structural inertia can lead to failures.
Some of the common reasons cited for obstructing changes include factors like Not completely understanding why the change is taking place, Complacency – people resist change because they don’t see there’s an urgent need to change, Discomfort with the time in which they must transition from one way to another of working, Not feeling as if they are being supported or listened to, Things they place a high value on being threatened, and being taken out of their comfort zone. Resistance to change takes many forms. The more obvious forms consist of active resistance, where people will object, or refuse to cooperate with the change.
Other, more subtle forms of resistance, however, are more difficult to deal with. Atkinson, Philip (2005) in his book managing resistance to change, states that most organizations do not have a good track record of managing change and that research shows that 90 per cent of change initiated in organizations fails in achieving their objectives. In the case of Dick Spencer, his success and reputation as a salesperson did not help him as a manager. He was considered amiable as a salesperson but ruthless as manager which often prompted resistance to his idea.
After his elevation to management, He was out to prove a point that he achieved what he did in the company by his efforts and not by coincidence of knowing the boss of the company. In his role as a special assistance to the vice president of production, Dick Spencer had all the power to implement the change in that department and was actively successful due to the fact that he had an open arm to carry out the change he so desired but in the process he gained the reputation of a dreaded boss who gets what he wants without considering whose ass is chopped off in the process.
As a manager of Modrow Branch, Dick Spencer’s employees were resistant to his idea of change due to his overbearing attitude and the constant pressure he heaps on them to carry out activity his own way. Employees considered that he laid too much weight on their shoulders and he did not given them room to chip in ideas and this in the process made them feel over pressured resulting in frustration. MICROMANAGEMENT Micromanagement was another issue encountered in the Dick Spencer case.
Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines micromanagement as “management especially with excessive control or attention to details”. It is a management style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of his or her subordinates or employees. Micromanagement is generally used as a negative term. The notion of micromanagement can be extended to any social context where one person takes a bully approach, in the level of control and influence over the members of a group.
Often, this excessive obsession with the minutest of details causes a direct management failure in the ability to focus on the major details. Micromanagement also frequently involves requests for unnecessary and overly detailed reports. “Estienne de Beer “states that A micromanager tends to require constant and detailed performance feedback and tends to be excessively focused on procedural trivia (often in detail greater than he can actually process) rather than on overall performance, quality and results.
This focus on “low-level” trivia often delays decisions, clouds overall goals and objectives, restricts the flow of information between employees, and guides the various aspects of a project in different and often opposed directions. Dick Spencer showed that he was a micro manager that wants everything to go his own way without considering the input of his employee. He had the altitude of “a manager knows best” and this did not go well with the employees who developed an altitude of resistance to effect the changes.
As a sales person Dick Spencer was considered a regular guy who fitted in and socialized with his coworkers but also an outstanding sales person who has the ability to sell any product he was given, but things changed when he was given a new role, his foresight of thinking was to succeed at all cost since he considered the role as an opportunity to prove his ability as not just a successful sales person but one who also has leadership to lead and produce outstanding results. His reputation as a ruthless head hunter superseded him in his career role. He also showed his micromanagement oncept as a plant manager of an English branch of the company when he instituted drastic change and purged the company. A key pattern of micromanagement suggests to employees that a manager does not trust their work or judgment, it is a major factor in triggering employee disengagement, often to the point of promoting a dysfunctional and hostile work environment in which one or more managers, or even management generally, are labeled “control freaks” Disengaged employees invest time, but not effort or creativity, in the work in which they are assigned.
According to an article on “Wikipedia” about micromanagement some of the symptom of micromanagement involves the manager rather than giving general instructions on smaller tasks and then devoting his time to supervising larger concerns, the micromanager monitors and assesses every step of a business process and avoids delegation of decisions. Micromanagers are usually irritated when a subordinate makes decisions without consulting them or when their authority is being questioned, even if the decisions are totally within the subordinate’s level of authority.
While working at the Modrow plant, Dick Spencer was continuously on the work flow monitoring every move his supervisors and employees made without him directly communicating his thought to his supervisors and letting them carry out these thoughts and implementing it by passing it down the command chain, these behaviors became somewhat of an addiction and these incidents resulted in both Dick Spencer, his supervisors and staffs been frustrated. MORALE Another issue in the Dick Spencer case was morale issue.
Morale is a reflection of the attitude or mental condition of an individual or group (Gene Klann, 2004) and often a time it is difficult to spot a team that has strong morale as opposed to one that does not. Many organizations today do fall into the category of those that do have morale issues amongst their employee. The average employee often find him/herself either been motivated and encouraged to continuously improve or find themselves in a position of having a low morale without the will the go the extra mile to achieve success, they usually have the “just come to work and get the job done” mentality.
Almost all offices today operates under such busy conditions and with such high stress that it’s hard to know which, if any, employees suffer from morale issue and Bosses and managers are rarely concerned about employee morale in their workplace and all that matters to them is performance and results. Yes, performance and results are important in today’s organization, no doubt about that. But what managers must realize is that if they wish to extract good results and par performance from their employees on a consistent basis, it is vital that there be good team spirit and employee morale in the workplace.
On the other hand, some will argue that it’s not difficult to recognize an organization or team that has strong morale, pride, and spirit as opposed to one that does not, According to Gene Klann (2004) “In the former, productivity and creativity are high and relationships are strong; in the latter, negativism, dissatisfaction, and friction reign” but in all, low morale in an organization or team brings about an attitude of defensiveness (characterized by a high-energy, gossipy style and pent-up aggravation) and/or apathy (characterized by low energy, a withdrawn style and non-responsiveness).
According to Deborah Dorsett (2006), some of the situations that creates an environment for low morale includes Changes in leadership, Acquisitions, mergers, department or division closures, Labor negotiations and contract disputes, High employee turnover, and unclear expectations and corporate direction. Low morale don’t just affect employees alone but also members of management who feels they are not given enough room and free space to be productive. In the case of Dick Spencer, two morale scenarios surfaced; I. Dick Spencer experiencing a low morale as an assistant plant manager of the English branch of Tri- America. II.
The employees under Dick Spencer at the Modrow branch of the company have a low morale because of the working condition at the branch. As an assistant plant manager, Dick Spencer felt he had an obligation to bring about an immediate change. He wanted to maintain his status quo as the guy who always achieves result but was forced to soft pedal with his ideas of change. He felt frustrated by the fact that his ideas and suggestions was not given room to and did not like the fact that he was forced to an underachiever role at the branch by not given enough room to implement the change he so wanted, this scenario led him to have a mixed feeling.
According to Gene Klann (2004), the leader is an important factor in the success or failure of a team or organization. People choose to follow particular leaders because of who those leaders are and what they represent. Effective leaders create an environment in which team members can function well. They ensure that needed resources are on hand, remove rather than create barriers and distractions that hinder the team’s operations, don’t generate problems but instead address and solve existing problems that are beyond the scope of the team.
The employees under Dick Spencer at the Modrow branch of the company’s morale was at a low ebb right from the time he was brought in. his reputation had placed him as the boss that need not be trusted and this made the employees view him with dubious eyes and in the process he created an environment where team member were not allowed to function well. Another issues Dick Spencer had that set his employees morale at a low was the communication barrier in passing out his ideas and instructions.
Gene Klann (2004) states that “there are two key factors in the building of morale, pride, and spirit: shared experiences and effective communication among team members and that the quality and the quantity of shared experiences and effective communication are both critical to success” in an organization. The employees thought that because Dick Spencer was in the constant habit of watching every little move they made without communicating approval or disapproval, that they were being watched, eventually this attitude did not improve employees’ moral.
INEFFECTIVE MANAGER The fourth issue that Dick Spencer encountered while at the Modrow branch of Tri-American Company was dealing with ineffective managers. According to (Pryor, Humphreys, & Taneja, 2008), “ineffective managers are managers who may be efficient at what they do, but they don’t do the right things. The reason might be a deficiency in knowledge or a deficiency in execution”. Ineffective manager can take different form and approach to tackling an issue without actually making a positive effort to tackle that issue.
They either don’t give you the right information that is necessary for you to carry out your job function successfully or their execution style does not follow the rules and guidelines of the company for which they work. In the case of the managers at the Modrow plant of tri-American, the managers where often ineffective in communicating the work flow processes to the employees. In the Dick Spencer case, the managers were not passing out the right information and ideas that Dick Spencer needed them to implement to their sub group.
At the time he thought that because they resented him and wanted him to fail, they were not carrying out his instruction at the low level this can be evidently seen at the process when he got into a heated conversation with his managers. Another of this scenario was played out when his managers thought that because Dick Spencer was bored, hence he decides to stroll around the organization. His managers also shows their ineffectiveness during the incident at the siding department when a process suggested by Dick Spencer was supposed to be carried but was not done.
In conclusion, the effect of ineffective managers in an organization often leads to frustration and ineffective work process. SUGGESTIONS NECESSARY FOR DICK SPENCER TO IMPLEMENT The difficulties Dick Spencer encountered were the result of the four problems identified in the previous section. These problems can be remedied with the following recommendations. Atkinson, Philip (2005) suggests that we should Sell the benefits when dealing with someone who resists your approach, first elicit his or her reason for doing so.
Then diligently list these objections. Consider even the apparently illogical arguments, because that is where false assumptions, expectations and the company grapevine have been at work in opposing the change. He further states that Gossip, assumptions and fear spark the grapevine to create unrealistic scenarios that, when tackled head on, can be shown to have no substance. Letting the grapevine persist in creating negative rumors without challenge is tantamount to supporting it, so take action.
Secondly, to avoid the dilemma of a micromanager and curb the menace, to reverse trends toward micromanagement, the chosen leader must loosen the reins throughout the organization, often at the very time when individual managers’ temptation to maintain control is at its highest. Oftentimes, micromanagement becomes so entrenched, it is near impossible to reverse, because the micromanagement has literally become the corporate culture. The company continues down a road garnering a “bad reputation,” as workers leave the organization and spread word of their experiences, or abuse, to others.
Insecurity among management usually forces a continuation of the abusive management practices. Sometimes, an external consultant might be brought into an organization, for a variety of reasons, and might reveal the micromanagement dysfunction, after an analysis. Once exposed, there is usually certain denial and “finger pointing” among management, as to actual accountability. And lastly, to continuously improve the morale in an organization, Gene Klann (2004) suggests that Communication should be continual, open, honest, and safe.
No opinion should be discounted; no idea should be dismissed, and maximum dialogue should be encouraged. Expectations and explanations should be clearly communicated. Every meeting, scheduled or unscheduled, should be used to pass relevant information to team members because such information validates the team. Conflict must be dealt with effectively. When a team member has an issue with a colleague, it should be dealt with directly and as soon as possible. Failure to do so will generally escalate the conflict.
Team members should be held accountable for working out such problems. They need to be able to both apologize and forgive; this is enormously important to effective team functioning. Few things can undermine morale, pride, and spirit more quickly than unresolved conflict between or among team members. If conflict is allowed to go on unchecked, cliques will evolve, and morale, pride, and spirit will dissolve. Feedback—not only from the leader to the team members but also vice versa and among the members— should be ongoing and routine.
Such feedback is valuable in the process of building morale, pride, and spirit because it offers assessment, support, and accountability. Feedback should be encouraged and institutionalized by outlining the ground rules of the process in the team’s standard operating procedures. Having ground rules and a specific feedback model greatly increases the openness and reduces the defensiveness of those receiving the feedback. CITATIONS Michael T. & Charles O. (November 1999). Leading Change and Organizational Renewal. Retrieved from http://hbswk. bs. edu/item/1156. html Atkinson, P. (2005). Change Management. Managing Resistance to Change, Vol. 49 Issue 1, p14-19. Retrieved from http://proxy. tamu-commerce. edu:8436/ehost/detail? vid=2&hid=9& sid=32ac3fe4-24d0-4855-85cfa61619ba2739%40sessionmgr14&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=bth&AN=16474609 Hannan M. T. , & Freeman, J. (1984). Structural Inertia and Organizational Change. American Socioligical Review , 49, 149 – 164. Estienne D. B. The Menace of Micromanagement. (2004) Retrieved from http://www. hodu. om/micro. shtml Micromanagement. Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Micromanagement Gene K. Morale Victories: How Leaders Can Build Positive Energy. Retrieved from http://proxy. tamu-commerce. edu:8436/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? vid=2&hid=11&sid=5685ee13-4e40-442e-b1d2-bc2888837aa0%40sessionmgr4 Deborah D. the High Cost of Low Morale. (2006). Retrieved from http://www. talentmgt. com/recruitment_retention/2006/September/129/index. php Pryor M. G. , Humphreys J. , &Taneja. S. (October 2008). Freeing prisoners of work