Category Archives: ENTR 3110 Blog

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…

Resistance to Change

Everyone is resistant to change. Why is this? It usually boils down to the fact that change is perceived as a threat.

Some of the specific reasons why people are hesitant to change are as follows:

  • Their needs are already being met
  • They feel the change will leave them less better off then they currently are
  • They do not trust the success of the change
  • They do not understand the purpose of the change

As a result, many may come to the conclusion that in some way the change is going to cause a consequence that will be unfavourable to its participants. There is an apparent fear of the unknown or a potential loss. However, this is not always true. Change can be good, and it can result in a more efficient, innovative and/or updated practices.

To implement a change you must be sure that the change is needed and will be beneficial in some way, so that you do not risk losing the trust of the participants by implementing a less successful way of doing things.

Implementation Change

The key here is to anticipate people’s resistance to change and find ways to manage their needs and expectations. When a change is to be implemented, you must provide people with sufficient details for them to understand why the change will be beneficial. By doing this, you can influence them to see the change as sometime good, and in turn minimize their fears.

Allowing for people to have a hand in the change process is always a good idea. People need to voice their opinions, and as a leader you must be open to their suggestions. Making people feel like they are important and that they’re not just going to be forced into a new system allows them to adjust peacefully.

You can make this adjustment peaceful by having changes implemented in phases. By doing this, you can address behaviour changes along the way.

Mistakes Made in Managing Change

Through a great deal of research, I have found that there are common mistakes made when a change is to be implemented and managed.  The main mistake made is the lack of emphasize put on people’s coping abilities.  I have touched on how people’s fears need to be addressed and hopefully have sufficiently inspired you all to see the important people play in successful change.

Another critical mistake is seeing change as an overnight event. Something that you can just put in place and BOOM, there it is. Done and Done. Change is a process! The adjustment is a process, and to be truly successful you have to respect the need for this process.

The following illustration describes visually why a process of adjustment is needed.

As you can see, when a change is put in place, people’s emotions go out-of-whack. They are taken out of their comfort zone, and a transition begins. Allowing them to smoothly adjust to the change, and begin their way uphill is an important part of managing the change. The main goal is to help them get to the top, where they are knowledgeable, and integrate themselves into accepting the change.

Just as important is the process, is the explanation of the change. People need to be aware of what the change will create. There must be a rational explanation of the need for the change, and people have to be knowledgeable of what the change is to accomplish.

Correct Ways to Manage Change

Even though you are allowing for an adjustment process, you have to be committed to the change and make sure everyone else is committed too. You cannot go half-way with changing policies or procedures. This will just allow for people to be confused about the new system, and wary of its success.

A specific outline for the changes to be made can help clarify your expectations of people through the change adjustment period. Defining the problem and what you have decided on as an appropriate solution will help solidify what needs to be done to manage the necessary changes.

Continue to monitor the success of the changes. Note those who have made efforts to adjust to the change, and find ways to reward their efforts.  This recognition or rewarding process will help encourage others to mimic these positive behaviours.

All in all, when it comes down to managing change, you must manage the people who make the change possible.

Works Cited

Beer, M., & Nohria, N. (n.d.). Breaking the Code of Change. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from Google Books: http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZdXT0h62g1IC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=managing+change+effectively&ots=DipvHc2BRg&sig=yLZdZyxigCVC2I4z3ev_7Gk-Jok#v=onepage&q=managing%20change%20effectively&f=false

JB Consulting. (n.d.). Managing Change Effectively. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from JB Consulting: http://www.jbconsulting.co.uk/jb_pdf/JB_managingchange.pdf

Lee, S. (n.d.). Managing Resistance to Change. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from Business Improvement Architects: http://www.bia.ca/articles/chng-managing-resistance.htm

Straker, D. (n.d.). Rationale for Resistance. Retrieved July 11, 2011, from Changing Minds: http://changingminds.org/disciplines/change_management/resistance_change/rationale_resistance.htm

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Does size really matter?

The title may have thrown you off into thinking this blog would be about something completely different… but alas, I’m referring to organizational size, and how it shapes an organizations structure.

Organizational structure is a very important in the operations of a business. Discovering what works best for your organization is vital to its success.

So how do you figure out which structure is best? By examining the characteristics that are best benefited by the structure of choice. There are three structures available to analyze, functional, divisional and matrix. Matrix is really a combination of functional and divisional so I will not be focusing greatly on examining this structure.

Function structures are centralized, but inflexible and are essentially a structure based on departmentalization.

Companies that would benefit from such a structure would be ones with less need for coordination. By this, I mean that the structure is flatter and there are less chains of command to delegate. As well, if your organization is unable to steadily adapt to competition or other environmental factors, a functional structure fits the profile. Usually small or medium companies choose this structure to operate with, but some larger companies have been known to use functional structures as well.

The following image is a basic illustration of what a functional structure would look like:

Divisional structures are also flexible, but are decentralized. Employees are divided by the product lines, or geographical location. Divisional structures lend better to companies that are very large in size and have multiple product lines.

The following outlines a divisional structure:

I have worked for Canada Post in the past, which operates with a divisional organizational structure. Given that Canada Post is a very large company, serving over 14 millions addresses, this structure benefits them.

Notice that I’ve determined Canada Post as having a divisional structure based on the company’s size. This is because I feel that size should be emphasized in determining the best structure for a company.

So why is size so important?

An increase in size creates a decreased concentration of power. The larger a company gets the more beneficial it becomes to create divisions that run alongside each other. By doing so, you don’t have just one high level position, such as director. Instead you need up with many, balancing their powers between each other.

I once worked at a pizza shop, in Ontario and it was apparent less coordination was needed, as its staff and managers would be able to easily interchange ideas. Essentially, all employees would be generally delegated to the same tasks, and would report to the one owner. There are no branches, and therefore not a great deal of specialization is needed. Thus, divisions are unnecessary for smaller companies.

Is size the only real factor? It’s important, but no. It’s not the only factor. The environment also plays a key role.

The environment in which you operate can shape your structure. Functional or flatter structures are better off in environments that are stable. Stable environments require less of a need for rapid changes, alterations or adaptations because of external factors.

The opposite goes for divisional structures, as they can quickly adjust to external factors, such as new competition.

So, should you operate under a Functional or Divisional structure? How about a mix of both? Examine your organization to know what’s appropriate!

Bibliography

Borgatti, S. P. (2001, October 8). Organizational Theory: Determinants of Structure. Retrieved from Analytictech: http://www.analytictech.com/mb021/orgtheory.htm

Business Mate. (2009). What is a Divisional Organizational Structure? Retrieved from Business Mate: http://www.businessmate.org/Article.php?ArtikelId=185

Field, R. H. (2002). Organizational Effectiveness, Structure, and Technology. Retrieved from Richard Field on Management and Information Science: http://apps.business.ualberta.ca/rfield/Organizational%20Effectiveness,%20Structure,%20and%20Technology.htm

Tutorials Point. (n.d.). Organizational Structures. Retrieved from Tutorials Point: http://www.tutorialspoint.com/management_concepts/organizational_structures.htm

Why do we do what we do?

Ever wonder why you feel some things are wrong, and some are right? It all boils down to how we developed morally through our childhood and adolescence stages. It’s a common notion to just blatantly think “stealing is bad”, but there was a process that occurred to develop these feelings. A process that seems to be overlooked because it’s somewhat natural in its stages.

According to Kohlberg, there are six stages we go through in developing our morals, and each play a vital role in how ethical we’ve become today. These stages are paired into levels, pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional morality, respectively. Below are these levels and stages listed in the order in which they are learnt.

Level 1: Pre-conventional Morality

Stage 1. Obedience and Punishment Orientation

Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange

Level 2: Conventional Morality

Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships

Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order

Level 3:Post-conventional Morality

Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights

Stage 6: Universal Principles

The pre-conventional level is one in which we learn as children, understand the basics of what right and wrong. Stage one maintains that our learning comes from obeying our parents and receiving punishment as conditioning for doing wrong. This is where we learn that “stealing is bad” only because our parents say it’s bad, and that we can be punished for disobeying our parents. Then we begin to grasp the notions of stage 2, where we learn that there are many people with many different views, and each person is entitled to an opinion. For example, we learn that our parents view stealing as bad, but not everyone has the same opinion as our parents. The whole pre-conventional morality level is where we think as individuals but not as members of a society.

Conventional morality begins to teach us how to be members of society, and usually commences during the adolescences years. We learn how to interact with people and how to maintain and foster relationships through not only looking out for our best interests, and not only fearing the consequences of doing wrong but also because of pure goodwill. This concept relates to Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, in which something is determined to be morally ethical if the action and motive are truly right. In this sense, you must be doing the right things, for the right reason. After completing stages 3 and 4 of the conventional morality level, we are fully members of society.

A greater moral development emerges from the post-conventional morality level, in which we learn how to keep society function, but also how to improve the ways in which it does function. At the level, ideologies of what is morally right become apparent. Some take the view of a utilitarian, a cultural relativist, an ethical egoist or a virtue theorist. All these views have different ways in which they decide what is morally right, whether it be based on the outcome of an action, the motive of the action, the act itself or the character that performs the action.

So why do these stages matter? Essentially, they allow us to see where we developed our ideas and beliefs on what is considered right or wrong. In turn, we develop an almost existentialist view of our learning process, and become better informed on how people think and resultantly behave.

This deeper understanding about our moral ideologies can also correlate with locus of control theories. Different people have different loci of control, these being either external or internal locus with a strong or weak affect. Our locus of control determines what we feel our success and failures are attributed by, and how much control we have over these outcomes. You can test your locus of control here.

People with an internal locus of control feel that they control their fate through their effort and decisions, and oppositely, people with an external locus of control feel that they have little control over what happens to them, that circumstances and external factors take over in determining their lives.

I found that I have a “somewhat” more internal than external locus of control. This made me realize that I mainly feel that I have the power to change the outcome of my life, and that everything is not predetermined. However, there are a few things, such as the occasional streak of bad luck, which can harm my efforts.

Works Cited:

Johnson, Robert, “Kant’s Moral Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2010/entries/kant-moral/

Larmer, R. A. (2002). Selected Readings in Business Ethics. Wadsworth.

PsychTests. (2011). Locus of Control Test. Retrieved from Discovery Health: cl1.psychtests.com/take_test.php?idRegTest=2974

W.C. Crain. (1985). Theories of Development. Prentice-Hall. pp. 118-136. Online Excerpt 

Finding Justice in Conflict Resolution

Some people just don’t get along—it’s inevitable. With all the difference in personalities of the people all across the world, it’s no wonder we find people whose interests and values differ from us. In workplace situations we are faced with this dilemma occasionally. I know I’ve been in positions at school and in a work environment team and have found myself butting heads with others. It’s like some people just don’t mesh, like a water and oil analogy.

A big issue that people have when facing conflict is finding a proper compromise or solution. When facing a given problem, everyone feels like they deserve a just result. Regardless of any differences in our personalities, all people like to be treated fairly when a dispute arises. Being equitable and promoting justice in the workplace can improve morale and attitudes of the company’s staff.

The way a conflict is handled means a lot to an individual. I personally like to know that my opinion matters, and when I have a conflict at work, it’s important to me to have the issue resolved in a procedurally just way. Making sure that procedurally sound a just ways of dealing with conflict is hard but important factor in running a successful business.

In the workplace, if there are conflicting ideas of how to continue with a task, good and bad outcomes can emerge. Some conflict can be good and help produce better ideas and solutions. Since all people have different ideas, the more solutions that are given to a particular task can make for a greater pool of innovation to spark a greater and well rounded result. However, if a compromise with all these ideas cannot be created, an interpersonal strategy for solving the conflict must take place. There is an interesting figure (shown below) that takes into account ones concern for others and ones concern for oneself in interpersonal conflict situations.

This figure was created by M. A. Rahim. It shows that compromise is really the middle ground, and how breaking down and analyzing ones concerns can be beneficial in finding compromise.

In legal disputation matters that occur at work, third party conflict resolution methods can be useful in accomplishing this tedious task of resolution. Mediation and arbitration are good ways in which a third person can intervene when a dispute arises.

In British Columbia, mediation is used to settle matters of dispute in an informal way, where negotiations can take place with the help of an unbiased person. A settlement has to occur in this negotiation process, as the point is to find resolution without going to court. According to the Dispute Resolution Office of British Columbia, mediation is best used to when disagreements involve legal aspects, such as contracts and claims. Using this method allows for clarity and respect in the negotiations process. It may also help bring to light issues in which both parties have overlooked or not fully empathized.

Arbitration is the next step, if mediation fails. Arbitration serves as a more formal way to come to a conclusion between disagreeing parties. As a result, the disputing parties only present their claims, and are given a legally binding conclusion. There are no terms of negotiation in this process, so it’s a better method to be taken as a last resort if mediation doesn’t work.

Personally, I feel that when an employer and employee have a dispute, the best way to deal with it is using an unbiased third party that can help assist in the negotiation process. Doing so can avoid court costs and delays and in turn it creates a way to really discuss the issue. While arbitration is good to come to a conclusion if no compromised can be made, mediation serves as a better way to really preserve and maintain the relationship between two disputing parties.

As always, it seems that communication and understanding is the key to coming to a fair and equitable resolution to any conflict, whether it be work related or not. It is vital to understand your own concerns, as well as the concerns of person in which you are in conflict with to come to a true compromise.

Works Cited

AAoBC. (2010). AABC Online. Retrieved from Arbitrators Association of British Columbia: http://www.labour-arbitrators.bc.ca

B.C Government (n.d.). Guide to Mediation in B.C. Retrieved May 30, 2011, from Government of B.C: http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/dro/mediation-in-bc/index.htm

Rahim, M. A. (2002) Toward a theory of managing organizational conflict. The International Journal of Conflict Management, 13, 206-235.

Tjosvold, D., Wong, A. S., & Wan, P. M. (2010). Conflict management for justice, innovation, and strategic advantage in organizational relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol 40(3) , 636-665.

Perceptions of Non-Verbal Communication

communicationIn any setting or environment, many forms of communication take place.  We usually emphasize verbal communication because it’s the most apparent way of interacting with others. However, the way we perceive nonverbal cues can be very important in fostering and maintain our relationships, whether they are personal or work related. I know that I personally have been known to over analyze nonverbal cues, as I pick up on any hint of discontent by another being. However, properly interpreting nonverbal cues can be a confusing process, but in doing so, we can create deeper connections with others.

Non verbal communication can be present in our facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, gestures and eye contact. They relay very important messages to the receiver, as their primary focus is on portraying a person’s emotional state, or attitude about a certain situation. However, it is vital to understand how to interpret these cues.

It’s funny to think that we even subconsciously pick up on other people’s non-verbal communication. This subconscious perception can be a powerful influence on how we treat certain situations. Nonverbal cues can serve many purposes. They can either repeat the message that is verbally portrayed or contradict this message. As well, non verbal signals can substitute for verbal communication completely. This is done solely by portraying ones feeling or attitude through body language and facial expression. Nonverbal cues can also complement a verbal message, like a thumbs up after receiving verbal praise.

There are differences between genders and their degree of interpreting and sending non-verbal cues. A stereotypical feature is that women tend to not verbally express what they mean, but men are expected to pick up on these non-verbal cues. It has been shown in studies however, that women are moderately better at sending and receiving nonverbal signals. This can create quite a conundrum between the two sexes in their perception of wants and needs. Women, as a result, send stronger nonverbal cues and expect men to interpret them, like the classic situation of a man asking a woman if everything is alright, and her disdained reply of “I’m fine”—which can be interpreted differently whether the receiver is male or female. A women would perceive the “I’m fine” speech, with its correlated tone and facial expression as just as important as the words themselves. As a result, a woman would pick up on the actuality of the situation, that the woman is not truly fine, even in saying so, as she is sending a contradicting nonverbal cue.  However, a man may hear “I’m fine” and interpret it as just that, the woman is content. Men tend to disregard some nonverbal cues, and put the emphasis solely on verbal communication.

In regards to gender differences in the use of non-verbal communication, it has been found that women are more likely to break eye contact more frequently than men, but men are less likely to make eye contact at all. I assume, with discussion from friends of both sexes, that this is because females like to be polite in having their full attention given to a conversation, which is relayed through the use of eye contact. However, eye contact is broken easily as females do not want to stare as it can be seen as impolite. Males however, may find eye contact unnecessary or intrusive, and as a result refrain from using it most of the time. One article by Edward Hall relayed that women approach people more closely, and prefer side by side conversations. Men, in turn, prefer face-to-face conversations.

Overall, we must take into consideration how each gender values various forms of communication, and to what degree they will be able to perceive different cues to fully appreciate all forms of communication we are able to receive. Understanding these cues is vital in any environment to create deeper and more meaningful connections with other human beings.

Works Cited

DELANEY, D. J., & HEIMANN, R. A. (1966). EFFECTIVENESS OF SENSITIVITY TRAINING ON THE PERCEPTION OF NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATIONS. Retrieved from Kwantlen Database: PsycINFO: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.kwantlen.ca:2080/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=6427031f-b2c7-44f3-9c9d-c32edb5d2848%40sessionmgr14&vid=6&hid=24

Ivy, D., and Backlund, P. (1994). Exploring gender speak: Personal effectiveness in gender communication. New York: McGraw-Hill.

N/A. (n.d.). The Power of Non-verbal Communication and Body Language. Retrieved May 16, 2011, from Help Guide: http://helpguide.org/mental/eq6_nonverbal_communication.htm

Edward Hall’s [The Hidden Dimension (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966)]

Don’t Shoot the… Whistleblower?

Hey everyone! This is my first blog post—ever!

When thinking of organizational behaviour, the actual hierarchy of a company pops into my head. This idea led me to some thoughts about how information travels in some companies, horizontal, vertically, lattice… and so on. When information flows strictly vertically, there are chances that some issues or concerns from lower levels get blocked from going upwards. This happens because employees are afraid to be the bearers of bad news, as they become associated with the, well for a lack of a better phrase, “negative aura” it produces. I’m sure everyone’s heard of the saying “Don’t shoot the messenger”. This phrase is used in reference to the delivery of bad news, and the negative connotations it brings to the bearer.

In early years, it was a common occurrence that those who bring bad news to the attention of authorities, would be held accountable for the problems that they pointed out. In Sophocles’s Antigone this idea is emphasized by highlighting the fact that “No one loves the messenger who brings bad news”. Being human, we tend to be irrational and emotional and as a result we can confuse the source of the problem with the person who brings awareness to the problem. This concept is also seen in the business world, as is referred to as whistle blowing. If we have a term for this concept of wrongly pacing blame on the wrong person, would we not be able to take it into account when hearing bad news?

Whistle blowing is when an employee brings awareness to a problem of dishonestly or illegality within a company. In one related article, Robert A. Larmer discusses why whistle blowing is a moral and acceptable thing to do. He claims that “To be loyal to someone is to act in a way that is genuinely in that persons best interest” (Larmer, 1992) and that blowing the whistle is acting in the company’s best interest. He goes on to argue for whistleblowers’ right to call issues to attention, but adds that blowing the whistle internally is the optimal way of going about things(Larmer, 1992).

However, another view is seen in Michael Davis’s article Avoiding the Tragedy of Whistleblowing. Davis argues against whistle blowing, as he describes how whistle blowing should not exist at all within a company, as all problems should be addressed before anyone feels the need to blow the whistle. I think a combination of both of these concepts can be considered. Personally, I agree with Davis is the sense that problems should be met with solutions as soon as possible, but if they are not dealt with, and then I think whistleblowers should rightly blow the whistle without being looked upon as being in the wrong for doing so, as Larmer emphasizes (Larmer, 1992). Regardless of whether you believe whistleblowing is a needed component to the successful functioning of a company, or if you feel the problems should be addressed before the whistle need be blown, it is vital to understand the psychology behind whistleblowing, and how we view the whistleblower. By doing so, we create encouragement for bringing problems to light that need to be addressed.

Davis, M. (1989). ‘Avoiding the tragedy of whistle-blowing.’ Business and Professional Ethics

Journal, 8(4), 3-19. (N/A, 2011)

Robert A. Larmer(1992). Whistleblowing and Employee Loyalty. Journal of Business Ethics 11 (2).

N/A. (2011, May 6). Shooting the Messenger. Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_the_messenger

I was able to find an electronic copy of Davis’ Avoiding the Tragedy of Whistleblowing, which you can view here: http://ethics.iit.edu/publication/avoidTragedyWhistle.pdf

You can view Sophocles’ Antigone here: http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html