You are on page 1of 6

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY

ORGANISATIONAL BEHAVIOUR – DECEMBER 2011

Section II

Essay Questions

1. Your company is about to open a new call centre in India and you have
been given the job of doing the organisational design before the workforce
is employed. The rest of the company is organised in a Functional
Structure, has a tall hierarchy, a high degree of specialisation in the
workforce, and managers tend to have few subordinates. The Board wants
to take the opportunity in the new call centre of implementing a more
modern and customer responsive organisation. What organisational design
concepts do the Board need to agree to and what pressures do you
envisage might need to be managed in interfacing with the rest of the
company?
(60 Marks)

The organisation has a very mechanistic structure but what is required for the new
call centre is more organic in nature. The main differences between these two
structures are shown below:

In designing the organisation for the call centre, therefore, the Board will need to
think about the effect of lower specialisation of labour and the results of this in
trying to recruit (or train) a multi-skilled workforce. This obviously has a follow-
on implication on the way that the work itself is designed.

With a high degree of delegation of authority, the layers of management will be


low and the loss of middle managers would best be replaced by some form of
self-directed team working. This again would lead to implications about the sort
of managers that should be recruited for the call centre. In addition, the
workforce will need to be prepared to accept the authority implied by self-directed
team working.

1
On Departmentalisation, bearing in mind the above, a Functional Structure would
not be an appropriate form. Either a Product or Matrix Structure would be more
appropriate for an organic organisation (in the circumstances defined).

A high degree of delegation and a flat organisational structure is associated with


the idea of having wide spans of control for managers. The job of the managers
also changes to take account of self-directed teams and becomes more about
dealing with horizontal inter-team issues. In addition, the manager has the control
responsibility to ensure that the self-directed teams (SDTs) are delivering their
required objectives.

The call centre staff are going to have the obvious difficulty of interfacing with the
rest of the organisation, potentially, operating in a different time zone. In
addition, national cultural differences between the old and new parts of the
organisation could pose problems. In terms of differing organisational
cultures/structures, as discussed above, the following issues are worthy of notice:

 Decision-making in the call centre should be much faster than in the old
functionally organised part of the business and this could lead to
frustration within both parts of the organisation.
 Empowerment within the call centre will be at a much higher level and
could cause difficulties in more junior members of staff needing to liaise
with more senior members outside the call centre.
 The reward structure will need to reflect the SDT structure in the call
centre (rewarding for team effort) and this might cause feelings of inequity
in other parts of the organisation.
 The decentralisation in the call centre will result in fewer rules and
regulations and a more informal approach to work. This could be
challenging to those more used to working in the existing organisation.
 Employees moving into or out of the call centre will need reorientation
(perhaps retraining) to fit with the differences to be found.
 It is likely that the call centre will be more customer-oriented and this
could lead to pressures of customers preferring to deal with the new call
centre rather than the rest of the organisation.

2
2. One of your managers has an ongoing problem with one of his staff. He
has been trying to use behavioural modification to change the staff
member’s behaviour of continually interfering with the work of one of her
colleagues (whose job she used to do). He has so far tried moving the
offender physically away from her colleague, ignoring the interference
(along with the colleague) in the hope that it would stop, and rewarding the
staff member when she does not interfere. This situation has now been
going on for six months, your manager has run out of ideas, and he has
asked for your help. What advice would you give from your knowledge of
motivation theory?
(60 Marks)

From the description above, the manager has been trying to address the situation
using the principles behind Behaviour Modification and tried most of the
alternatives to punishment. He has tried extinction (ignoring the attempts to gain
attention and show off), re-engineering the work environment (with the physical
move), reward (for not interfering) and patience (since the situation has been
going on for 6 months).

To use punishment effectively the manager needs to react to observed behaviour:

 Rapidly, so that the reaction is linked directly to the undesired behaviour;


 With a level of intensity that indicates the importance of changing the
undesired behaviour;
 Equitably, so that there is no perception of unfairness being created;
 Focused, again so that there is a direct link to the behaviour;
 Privately, so that embarrassment can be avoided;
 In an informative fashion, explaining why the behaviour is undesired, how
it should be corrected, and the consequences of repetition;
 Must not be followed by reward, so as not to confuse the issue.

There may also be a key role in this situation for setting objectives and
performance appraisal.

In setting objectives for the current job, it can be made clear that these objectives
are what the individual is going to be judged upon (rather than anything to do
with the previous job, now the responsibility of someone else who has their own
objectives). Linked to job design, if these objectives are set in such a way as to
define a full work load, then the individual should not have too much time to
spend interfering in other work. Performance Appraisal, as an ongoing process,
provides the forum for the manager to give focused feedback on performance,
perhaps linking to annual pay review.

There may be wider issues to consider than those discussed above:

3
 Would there be value in pursuing other motivational theories to try to
solve the situation? Is there anything that could be usefully taken from
Maslow, Herzberg, Equity, Expectancy or Goal theories of motivation?
 Is there a management training, development or coaching issue for the
manager who had run out of ideas or for anyone else involved?
 Are there wider organisational design issues involved (in terms of division
of labour)? Are the two jobs too similar to each other? In terms of span
of control, does the manager have too many employees under him? In
terms of delegation of authority, can something be done for the employee
being interfered with? In terms of organisational structure, is there a
possible job move into a different part of the organisation?
 Is there a role for vertically or horizontally loading the job of the
interfering employee (not as a reward but to refocus her energy)?
 Is there anything that can be learned from Behavioural Modification
principles (pleasant or unpleasant consequences being linked to
consequences presented or removed)?
 Is there role ambiguity or conflict that might be addressed via job design?
 Would a change in the equitable pay between the two employees encourage
changed behaviour?
 Is there any way of shifting the interfering employee to being more self-
actualising in her current job?

4
3. The organisation you work for has been producing poor quality products
and services for the last year and feedback is indicating that the company
will lose customers if the situation is not addressed quickly. The Quality
Director has suggested to the Board that the company needs to make much
greater use of project teams, self-directed in nature, to address the
problems and to implement permanent fixes. You, as a personal assistant
to the CEO, have been asked to produce a paper outlining the best way of
creating such teams. From your knowledge of organisational behaviour,
what would you include in such a briefing paper?

(60 Marks)

In creating self-directed teams (SDTs), managers need to take the size of the team
into account; they need to plan how the team will be trained, and to think about
how pay is structured. They need to consider the changed role of the supervisor,
and they need to think about what authority the team is given to operate in a self-
directed fashion.

In terms of size, the SDT should be relatively small (certainly no more than 20)
but also big enough to form a critical mass (probably from 8 upwards). A team of
8–20 should provide psychologically meaningful work. Larger teams increasingly
find it more difficult to manage themselves, have too broad a range of tasks and
the incidence of Social Loafing increases (thus introducing greater process losses
as the team grows in size).

On training for SDTs, it is important to focus on the provision of work skills and
where possible to use cross-training (utilising the knowledge already existing
within the team). It is also important to avoid external training interventions as
these might adversely affect the group climate or work effectiveness.

Pay systems should be implemented in such a way that individual reward is linked
to team performance. Continuance of traditional individual reward for individual
performance will be seen as incongruent with the idea of maximising team
performance and would be counterproductive in encouraging a high performance
team.

The role of the supervisor can be one of the more difficult aspects of creating
SDTs as there is a requirement for the supervisor to change from being in a
vertical liaison role (with higher management) to one that involves more
horizontal coordination with other SDTs. With the increased delegation of
authority and wider Span of Control, inherent in more organic structures that
encompass SDTs, traditional ‘command and control’ mechanisms become
redundant (if not counter-productive).

Delegated authority to SDTs should include the authority to plan their own work,
to organise and control defined pieces of work, and to be responsible both for the
quality and quantity of work. For management, the challenge is to let go

5
traditional power and to allow the SDT to control its own direction with
managers adopting more of a coaching role.

Mature SDTs will evaluate each other using peer appraisal (the use of 360 degree
feedback would be an example of this). Individuals in SDTs would be involved in
training each other until everyone in the team was competent to perform all
related jobs assigned to the team. The teams themselves would be responsible for
scheduling work and assigning tasks within the team (and would take decisions on
the appropriate use of flextime or issues like 40 hour, 4 day, weeks to complete
the work required). The SDT would also allocate work-assignments to meet the
needs of individual team members (as well as meeting the organisational needs).
The mature SDT would also take responsibility for monitoring team performance,
taking corrective action when necessary, and the management of equipment
utilisation, reporting the results of these activities to higher management. Finally,
the SDT would be expected to apply the principles of TQM and quality
improvement to all phases of the teams work.

Some discussion of Tuckman’s model of Team Development may also be


appropriate (the evolution of teams through Forming, Norming, Storming,
Performing and Mourning). Alongside the stages of this model, it would be
important to recognise the changing needs of leaders as the team progresses.
Therefore, in the forming phase the leader would need to be more directive by
outlining the organisational goals that the team is expected to contribute towards.
In the storming phase, it is key that the leader role models the situational use of
appropriate conflict handling styles. In the norming phase, the leader needs to
encourage the team to take more responsibility for decision-making. In the
performing stage, the leader has to demonstrate effective delegation and act as a
communicator for the team across the wider organisation. As the project teams
come to their end, it is important for the leader to record the successes of the
team and to celebrate these before team members progress to new jobs.

As the Teams are being set up to address problems of poor quality, it would be
important to identify and adopt appropriate decision-making methods to
encourage the identification of permanent fixes. Discussion of the appropriate
use of brainstorming, the nominal group technique and the Delphi technique
would therefore be of interest to the Quality Director. It would also be worth
discussing the advantages of cross-functional and cross-divisional team in
addressing quality issues.

© Heriot-Watt University, December 2011