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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Managerial problems - lack of company policy, ill communication, lack of knowledge regarding diversity in the workplace, poor training on solving problems rationally.

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Managerial problems, such as the case study, stem from a range of hidden problems within the company.


These range from lack of company policy, ill communication, lack of knowledge regarding diversity in the workplace, poor training on solving problems rationally. Diversity is a key issue in the ninetys workplace because of the mosaic of people within a broad range of age groups, diverse backgrounds, with different skills, needs and expectations. Fritz, the supervisor had made a personal agreement with Gary regarding working on Saturdays. Fritz recognised the importance of religion to Gary, and that if Gary’s need was satisfied ideally his work would be more productive. Gary displayed his commitment to his work by working Saturdays when necessary, as well as his appreciation by offering to work Sundays at Saturday rates. Fritz failed to inform employee relations, and later , Phil, of this agreement. Phil felt his authority was threatened when Gary refused his request to work the following Saturday. Gary, when pushed by Phil, became defensive and not surprisingly refused to work. Suzy was requested to aid in the discussion, but she was not all supportive with the suggestion to fire Gary. This problem may reach its optimal outcome by following a rational problem solving guide as well as investigating how to manage diversity in the workplace.


Workplace diversity is obviously a key issue in this case study. To manage workplace diversity efficiently means creating an inclusive environment that values and utilises the contributions of people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Diversity relates to a range of variants such as age, gender, ethnicity, religious belief, cultural background, sexual orientation, language and family background. It also incorporates other aspects such as education level, work experience, socio-economic background, personality profile, marital status, geographic location, and whether or not one has carer responsibilities. In reference to the case study this means that the workplace structures, systems and procedures need to assist employees to balance their work and family responsibilities effectively. Vast diversity has produced positive and negative consequences. Diversity sometimes threatens harmony and understanding, as well as co-operation and productivity. However positive results of diversity include increased creativity, enhanced productivity through collaborative problem solving and synergy with multilevel experience sharing. Successful management of diversity in the workplace involves a range of employment practises such as job-sharing, part time work, flexitime and other flexible practices so individuals can manage their family and other commitments alongside their work commitments.


To begin, it is important to seek a plan of action on how to solve the problem. In assessing the problem following Whetten’s flowchart, it is a problem able to be solved rationally rather than creatively. The outcomes are predictable, there appears to be sufficient information present and the means-ends connection is relatively clear. Rational problem solving is only useful when the problems are relatively straightforward, alternatives are readily available and when a clear standard of judgement exists against which to judge the correctness of a solution. This falls into the category of “computational problems” of which the main tasks are to gather information, generate alternatives and make an informed choice. However the case study is not strictly a “computational problem”, as it involves the complex task of managing diversity.


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The first priority is to define the problem and specify underlying causes. These appear to be Fritz’s failure to communicate with the relevant people about his agreement with Gary, resulting in Gary being underpaid for his work on Sundays. Fritz has followed the natural tendency to select the first reasonable solution that comes to mind Whetten citing March and Simon 158). Phil has not acknowledged the importance of religion to Gary. Suzy , as an employee relations officer does not appear to be well trained. Suzy’s offering of advice that “we could fire him if we wanted to...” highlights her lack of knowledge in this area. Suzy definitely needs diversity training. Diversity training teaches people to respect and respond to the diverse requirement and needs of different individuals.


It needs to be examined why Gary should be allowed time off for religion. Gary’s desire to practise his religion needs to be supported by the company. Hereit (et al. 1715, cited in Fulop 1 84) research in the UK of the ideals that both employees and organisational representatives deemed to be the “organisational obligations.” Both the employee and organisational group believed that “Need - allowing time off to meet personal or family needs” are of importance, and had similar statistics of 5.77% and 4.88% respectively. This highlights the need for Gary to practise his religion, which appears to play a large role in his life. It is therefore not surprising that Gary, when questioned by Phil, was not willing to be flexible, nor maintain his commitment about working the following Saturday. This could be described as a “Violation.” (Fulop 1; 86 citing Morrison and Robinson 17; 0 -1.) Fulop defines violation as “ the emotional or affective state or experience that can also accompany one’s belief that there has been a failure by the organisation to fulfil a psychological contract.” According to Morrison and Robinson, “violation creates feelings that involve disappointment, frustration and distress stemming from the perceived failure to receive something.” It is therefore a high priority that Gary not be left feeling violated, in order to be a productive member of the company.


The consistency of company policy needs to be monitored more closely. Gary had discovered that a relative of the same religion, an executive in the same company had reached some type of agreement to allow him to practise his religion on Saturdays. This agreement had actually been made to make it easier for Gary’s uncle to have access to his religion. To Gary it may appear that his Uncle received special treatment because he was an executive, and Gary’s desire not treated as important because he is a process engineer.


The second step in rational problem solving is to generate alternative solutions. This would involve a meeting with Phil, Fritz, Gary and Suzy, with ideally all parties suggesting alternatives that are consistent with the goals that Gary still be employed, have access to his religion and complete all work. Short term and long term alternatives must be discussed. It is important to consider that Gary is an inexperienced trainee who currently needs more time for planning. Therefore in the long term will not need as much time for efficient planning and as a result not required to work as much on weekends. However in the short term he will still be required to do so. Although the arrangement will have to allow for both the long and short term solutions.


A solution needs to be evaluated and the alternative selected. Gary needs to practise his religion and should not be disadvantaged because the day of worship is a Saturday. It is important to remember that calendars are based upon the Christian and Catholic religion, which recognises Sunday of a day of rest and worship. Continuing on that note, the company should agree to allow Gary to have the majority of Saturdays off. If he has not completed the planning for the week, he should be given the opportunity to complete it on Sundays. However, if Gary will need the whole weekend to complete his work, if absolutely necessary, Gary will need to work on a Saturday. This should not exceed one Saturday a month, thereby still allowing Gary the majority of Saturdays off. This policy of allowing time off for religious and family needs should be extended for all within the company whether it be executives or process engineers. It is a priority that the company show flexibility for issues of personal importance such as religion. Suzy, in employee relations will need to be informed of the decision in order to use this case as a precedent. She would benefit from more training on diversity and in general improving employee relations. The main effects of this decision may be that Gary works overtime during the week , or harder to complete his planning on time. This could in fact be an incentive. It is to be hoped that Gary will feel pleased with this decision and remain loyal and committed to the company. As a result of these feelings will work obliging on Saturdays when necessary. Phil will perhaps be somewhat annoyed at this decision, but he may need to revise his view of diversity, and policies to ensure a committed and positive workplace. The side effects will be that Gary earns double rates for Sundays rather than one and half rates for Saturdays, therefore earns a higher salary. Another side effect is perhaps more employees will request more leave for religion or family needs. This is part of improving the management of diversity, by acknowledging and accommodating these needs.


The final step in rational problem solving is to implement and follow up on solution. The solution should be discussed with Suzy, Gary, Phil and Fritz.. Fritz has agreed to work the next Saturday , and the solution should be brought in for the following week. Everyone involved should be given opportunities for feedback. Perhaps scheduling a meeting a month later to discuss whether or not the solution is proving effective, and suggestions for any improvements. An improved method of communication, and consistency of company policy should also be investigated. It is a good idea that the company review all of its policies in regard to diversity management. This involves a commitment from top management downwards with a spectrum of initiatives such as diversity training programs, employee support groups, recognising and allowing for family and religious needs, communication standards, and perhaps even a manager accountable for diversity management success within the company.


The management of diversity in the workplace is by no means easy and straight forward. However with communication and understanding diversity can intervene in situations involving potential discrimination, such as the case study of Gary. Gary’s need to practise his religion needed to be acknowledged, and his workload flexible to allow him to pursue this whilst still maintaining his commitment to the company. Diversity management involves commitment and support for flexible practices and approaches to working which respond to the various needs of working individuals. It is to be hoped that the solution would serve as an example of recognition and support of diversity. By which it is enabling individuals to make full use of diverse talents, work schedules and experiences they bring with them to the workplace.


Bibliography


1. Australian Public Service Commissioner last updated Feb. 6th, 18.


(http;//www.psc.gov.au/publications8/managingdiversity.htm)


. Balkin, B. And Cardy R. (18) Managing Human Resources (Second Edition) Pittsburgh, USA. Prentice Hall Publishing.


. Cox Jr, Taylor and Beale, Ruby L. (17) Developing Competency to Manage Diversity; Readings, Cases and Activities, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc., San Francisco, California. (CASE STUDY)


4. Diane Bailey Associates (DBA), Training Design Consultancy last updated August th, 1. Lancs, England. ( http//www.dba.co.uk/diverse.htm)


5. Fulop, l. Linstead, S. (1) Management, A Critical Text. South Yarra (where is that?), Macmillan Education Australia


6. Module by Ella L. J. Edmonson Bell, Ancona, D. Kochan, T. Scully, M. Van Maanen, J. Dr Westney, E. ( Massachusetts Institute of Technology) (16) Managing for the Future, Organisational Behaviour and Processes, Managing Cultural Diversity, Ohio, USA, South Western College Publishing - An International Thomson Publishing Co


7. Linstead, S, Grafton Small, R, Jeffcutt, P. (16) Understanding Management, London, Sage Publications Ltd.


8. Kyambalesa, H.(1) Business Innovation and Competitiveness in the Developing World. Aldershot, England, Avebury.


. Sitterly, C. (11) Learning Guide to Accompany Kossen The Human Side to Organisations, New York, HarperCollins Publishers Inc.


10. Smith, B.(Ed) (1) Management Development in Australia, Marrackville NSW, Harcourt Brace Jonavich Group Pty Ltd.


11. Whetten, D. Cameron, K. (11) Developing Management Skills (Second Edition)New York, HarperCollins Publishers Inc.


1. Australian Public Service Commissioner last updated Feb. 6th, 18.


(http;//www.psc.gov.au/publications8/managingdiversity.htm)


1. Worthington, L. “Workplace Diversity” last updated 18th Jan, 1.


“http;//www.lworthington.com/managemnt/wpdurst.htm


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