Case Study- The Consolidated Life Case: Caught Between Corporate Cultures

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Table of contents

Case Study: The Consolidated Life Case: Caught Between Corporate Cultures 2
1. Task 1: Issues related to organizational behavior 2
1.1 Task 1.1 Analysis of the leadership approaches adopted by Rick Belkner, Mike Wilson and Jack Greely 2
1.1.1 Leadership approach adopted by Rick Belkner 2
1.1.2 Leadership approach adopted by Mike Wilson 3
1.1.3 Leadership approach adopted by Jack Greely 3
1.2 Power and politics issues 3
1.2.1 Office gossip 4
1.2.2 Informal power 4
1.2.3 Manipulation 5
1.3 Components of the conflict management process 5
1.3.1 Concept of conflict management 5
1.3.2 A five steps conflict management process 6
1.3.3 Case analysis 6
1.4 Organizational culture problems of “Consolidated Life” 7
1.4.1 Enlarged power distance 8
1.4.2 Individualism became prevalent 8
2. Task 2: Suggestions 9
2.1 Suggestions on leadership & change management 9
2.2 Suggestions on power and politics 9
2.3 Suggestions on conflict management 9
2.4 Suggestions on organizational culture 10
Reference 11

Case Study- The Consolidated Life Case: Caught Between Corporate Cultures

1. Task 1: Issues related to organizational behavior

1.1 Task 1.1 Analysis of the leadership approaches adopted by Rick Belkner, Mike Wilson and Jack Greely

1.1.1 Leadership approach adopted by Rick Belkner

The leadership approach adopted by Rick Belkner was laissez faire. A leader with this style of leadership would exhibit delay and demonstrate indifference to what is going on. According to Bernard M. Bass and Ronald E. Riggio (2006, p. 206), there are three major features depicting a typical leader with laissez faire:-

 Avoid choosing side on issues;
 Less emphasizing on result;
 Failure in performing follow-up.

As for Rick Belkner, based on the description shown in the case study, his behaviors fit in this leadership style of laissez faire. First of all, Rick Belkner was known as the “mirror of whoever considered with the strongest personality around him. This means that, facing many issues Rick Belkner actually made choice depending on who speak louder. He naturally avoided choosing side in various circumstances. Secondly, by playing crossword puzzles, to some extent we can say that Rick Belkner was less focusing on the results with less ambitious. Thirdly, failure in performing follow-up on issues actually happening was also obvious in case of Rick Belkner. While there was wide doubt about the tough management style led by Jack Greely, the new divisional senior vice president, Rick Belkner did not follow up this issue until Jack Greely’s requesting him to take action.

1.1.2 Leadership approach adopted by Mike Wilson

The leadership approach adopted by Mike Wilson is Democratic/Participative Leadership. Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they include team members in the decision-making process. They encourage creativity, and team members are often highly engaged in projects and decisions (Kelly 2010). As for Mike Wilson, he encouraged his subordinates to express their views by holding meetings. In addition, he was the one to think about the idea of supervisors’ forum to encourage different view expressing.
1.1.3 Leadership approach adopted by Jack Greely

Autocratic leadership style could be used to describe the leadership behaviors of Jack Greely. Based on the view of Anthony Walker (2011, p. 259), autocratic leadership emphasizes managerial authority and control with no consultation with subordinates. As in the case of Jack Greely, there are two major reasons for which his management practices were considered and put under the category of autocratic leadership. First of all, Jack Greely did not take into consideration upon making decisions and he required the subordinates to act in his own way. Secondly, he emphasizes managerial authority and ordered to disband the “union” which seemed to be formed against his leadership style and behavior. And in the perspective of Jack Greely, conforming to the requested management style without concerning the results was considered as a priority.

1.2 Power and politics issues

Power and politics is another major aspect of a company that the management and every common staff have to deal with. Office politics refers to how things get done in the office in form of alliances, betrayals, secrets, office gossip, informal power and manipulation and so on (Messmer 2001). Power and politics issues could have significant impacts over the shaping of the working and company environment that everyone must face. As in the case of Consolidated Life, after the return of Mike, the political and politics issues became frequent and obvious in the company that concerned the management a lot. Below some major issues related to company politics will be elaborated further.

1.2.1 Office gossip

Office gossip could be considered as a type of political issue within a company as it will spread widely and impact people’s thinking. When Mike returned to the company, he found out that some changes were already brought into the company and staffs had been talking about Jack Greely who was the new divisional senior vice president in the company. Gossips were generated about Jack’s style of management / leadership which was more autocratic than it was before. And even people were joking that MBO was actually “management by oppression”. Such office gossip will certainly contribute to the forming of the political environment in the company.

1.2.2 Informal power

The concept of informal power could be defined as a series of common understanding in respect of how the political and resource allocation decisions are to be made at the margin of the traditional decision making channels (Selee 2011). As in the case of Consolidated Life, after Jack Greely’s taking power and leadership, the political environment had changed because of Jack’s tough and autocratic leadership had created feeling of oppression among the staffs. Under such circumstances, it was Mike’s idea to form the supervisor’s forum in discussing the management practices as well as issues therein. Such forum actually represented a kind of informal power that will affect the formal decision making among the management.

1.2.3 Manipulation

Manipulation generally refers to behaviours that someone exhibits to get their needs met (Stecco, L. & Stecco, C. 2009). As in the case of Consolidated Life, manipulation was apparent when the Jack Greely led senior management call off the Supervisors’ Forum which seemed to go against Jack’s leadership. Also under Jack’s leadership concept which was described as “get the work out” and “management by oppression”, people life Mike were required to follow Jack’s own way of working and management, therefore it was obvious that manipulation as evidence of company politics in Consolidated Life. Another evidence could be found among the conversations between Mike and Jack after Mike’s promotion request being declined by the senior management, Jack’s explanation given to such seeming unreasonable decision as Mike was one of the best in his management level was that the he needed people who can confirm the requested style with good compliance with Jack’s working style. Such request could be considered as a form of manipulation as it considered only personal working / management style but not the actual working results and performance.

1.3 Components of the conflict management process

1.3.1 Concept of conflict management

The concept of conflict management could be defined as the capability to management the long term and usually difficult to handle kinds of conflict in term of handling heavy complaints, making stand in issues relevant to ridicule, gossip, various kind of discrimination and so on (Blokdijk 2008). Though conflicts in many cases are considered as negative with so many obvious and seeming bade consequence and results, to some extent they are not bad things for two major reasons. First of all, conflicts in various forms in the working environment shape the political environment of a company which is a fact of life for all the staffs in the particular company that can not be totally eliminated; secondly, if appropriately resolved, conflict resolution could greatly contribute to the personal mental growth as well as professional growth by exposing potential technical and production procedure problems.

1.3.2 A five steps conflict management process

In the famous book, Leading in the heat of conflict, Maccoby and Studder (2011, p. 50) proposed a five steps conflict management process, i.e.

 Anticipate (obtain the information about what could lead to conflict),
 Prevent (take up strategies in preventing the happening of the possible conflicts),
 Identify (identify whether the conflict is personal or in relation with company management procedures),
 Mange (Applying strategies), &
 Resolve (Get the conflict settled).

1.3.3 Case analysis

Coming back on the case of Consolidated Life, after the return of Mike Wilson, some changes of the political environment and business culture and value were perceived. The originally loose and casual atmosphere had been replaced by the stricter and task oriented management style. Here below we will see how Mike understood such change, what he had done to foresee and tried to prevent such conflicts and how he end up with failure.

1.3.3.1 Anticipate

After seeing the oppression felt by the staffs, Mike Wilson foresaw that conflict between the subordinates and the senior management will happen with high turnover rate as well as talented staff leaving being caused if nothing remedial works were to be done. He may probably talk to some peers and employees in better anticipating such conflict and possible results.

1.3.3.2 Prevent

In order to bring some changes, the key strategy adopted and proposed by Mike is to hold a supervisors’ forum in changing such suppressing management style which was considered by Mike as the source of the problem.

1.3.3.3 Identify

Mike identified that such management style change was mainly brought by the new senior vice president, Jack Greely. Therefore such conflict was major personal issue rather than being in relation with the procedure problem.

1.3.3.4 Failure in mange (end up in leaving the company)

And obviously, the failure of Mike in managing the conflict between Jack and the rest of the lower level management and the staffs was decided by the higher position power of Jack and his autocratic leadership style and it seemed that Mike did not have the chance to manage the conflict because of Jack’s timely calling off the union.

1.4 Organizational culture problems of “Consolidated Life”

It is widely accepted that organizational culture could be defined as a set of values, norms and patterns that are shared and agreed by people in an organization that guide people into specific pattern of performance contributing to better performance as well as problem solving (Witte & Muijen 1999, p. 522).

1.4.1 Enlarged power distance

With the return of Mike after a six months’ departure, it was obvious that the power distance among the senior management and the lower level management and the rest of the employees was enlarged with most people feeling oppressed and like working in prison.

1.4.2 Individualism became prevalent

With Rick’s laissez faire leadership style and being known as the “mirror of whoever considered with the strongest personality around him”, the new senior vice president Jack’s tasks oriented and stricter leadership had become dominant in the Consolidated Life. And obviously, with the disagreement from the lower end management who formed the supervisors’ forum with the aim to change such situation, the individualism rather than collectivism had become prevalent in the company.

2. Task 2: Suggestions

2.1 Suggestions on leadership & change management
Suggestion Note
More training courses.
More outdoor activities to be held and joint by the leaders and the subordinates to enhance moral and communications.
Encourage vertical and horizontal communications.

2.2 Suggestions on power and politics
Suggestion Note
Under any circumstance, performance management and evaluation should be adopted as a major component in evaluating a candidate in a promotion. Performance is what most company in pursuit with and whoever could achieve better performance should be promoted with priority.
Create a diverse team of different people to foster different view expressing.

2.3 Suggestions on conflict management
Suggestion Note
Negotiation should be widely adopted in resolving political issues.
Company could hire outside professional mediator in intervening serious company conflicts which come up with potentially great impacts over the company operation.
Open door policy could be adopted by the senior management as well as lower management to collect suggestions and settling conflicts in a company. View expression encouragement will be considered as effective in many cases in avoiding “oppression” feeling among the employees.

2.4 Suggestions on organizational culture
Suggestion Note
Senior management should build up their own credibility relying on their capability but not position power.
Enact company goals, value and objective to be pursued by the company as a whole.
Introduce company culture training in the new employee training courses.


Reference

Bass, B. M. & Riggio, R. E. 2006, Transformational Leadership. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. p. 206

Blokdijk, G. 2008. Management Training 100 Success Secrets. New Delhi: Lulu Publications.

Kelly, P. 2010. Essentials of Nursing Leadership & Mangement. New York: Cengage Learning.

Maccoby, M., & Scudder, T. 2011. Leading in the heat of conflict. T&D, 65(12), 46-51.

Messmer, M. 2001. Motivating Employees For Dummies. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Stecco, L. & Stecco, C. 2009. Fascial Manipulation Pratical Part. New York: PICCIN.

Selee, A. D. 2011. Decentralization, Democratization, and Informal Power in Mexico. New York: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Walker, A. 2011, Organizational Behaviour In Construction. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 259

Witte, K. D. & Muijen, J. V. 1999, Organizational Culture. New York: Psychology Press Ltd. p. 522