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A Tense Work Environment here at Bucknell… February 6, 2007

Posted by Janine in Organizational Environment.
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So I have an example that does not relate to a business organization exactly, however, I think the situation I am about to describe translates over very well to the readings in the book and our class discussions about organizational environments. 

 I have a colleague within the Athletic department who coaches a sport, which I will leave unnamed for the sake of her privacy. I will parallel this sport as its own organization.  Well to make a long story short, she is having a very difficult time getting along with her new boss.  There is constant tension: they disagree on decisions for the team, the boss does not tell her important information regarding developments within the team and the department, the boss does not give her responsibilites that she used to take care of.  As Chapter 4 in the book explains, the boss has centralized decision-making authority; the staff is left out of the decision making process, and the boss has control over what ultimately is or is not passed.  Furthermore, the head coach has not clearly identified her organizational role within the team.  She does not have a clear idea about what her responsibilities are.  A major lack in communication then affects the functioning of their team environment. 

I think this situation parallels the topics we have discussed and read about.  As the book stresses, an organizations environment is an important factor to its success.  Making employees happy, giving them responsibilty, working towards open communication between the levels, encouraging employees to be creative.  My friend’s work environment serves as an example of “what not to do.”   

Chapter 4 talks about ‘differentiation’ and in this example, it does not seem that the head coach has differentiated his ‘organization.’  This person has not taken the time to assign specific tasks and responsibilities to certain individuals in the staff, nor have the levels of authority been clearly assigned. There is no reliabe structure to the organization.  There is not a mechanistic structure because the employees are not aware of all that is going on within the team. There is nothing that is predictable because there are no clear-cut guidelines for staff to follow.  Moreover, an organic structure is absent as well.  The staff is lacking in communication with the boss, and the boss fails to seek the staff’s opinions and feedback.  Therefore, the staff are not encouraged to be flexible and responsive and creative.

The end result:  a very frustrated staff that has lost motivation to work for the common goal of the team.   With no encouragement from the boss, with no opportunities to grow and develop, my friend is left unsatisfied and annoyed. So will she continue to stay on board and work for this team. Unfortunately no.  She does not feel like she is contributing to her work.  The boss does not exercise proper control over the team and is consequently unable to motivate the employees to work for the team’s interests.  Without these proper guidelines, rules, and without communication of what is expected, the team is foreshadowed to suffer.  It is already losing employees due to the high level if dissatisfaction.  It is only a matter of time till the athletes start to notice this disparity and tension, if they haven’t already.

 If this boss is going to have a successful team, and by team I mean among the staff, then something has to be done about this work environment.  As it stands right now, dissatisfaction and frustration are affecting development and goals.  Growth will come once the boss recognizes the need for change. 

Here is my question to all of you:  any suggestions as to how this boss can work to change his work conditions?

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Comments»

1. Stephanie - February 7, 2007

Janine, I think you make a wonderful point connecting your friend’s situation to a new employee in a company. As I have been and still am on a sports team, I have found many parallels. Coaching styles connecting to management styles, to me, are related through leadership techniques. Also, just like a family, a company or team have a common object, goals, and methods of getting there.

Have you ever read The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt?

Similar to what you did with the team, the book connects company problems to family problems of the main character Alex. It is a quick read and I think it is worth reading if you haven’t yet.

2. Lady - February 7, 2007

I can definitely foresee the team and other coaching staff being affected in the future by this type of environment. I am no expert but I would suggest that this unsatisfied coach try to have a coach’s meeting in which they all discuss the current structure of the team and have the head coach explain why he/she does things the way that he/she does. Hopefully, this meeting can be conducted in an comfortable environment where everyone comes with an open-mind ready to “hear everyone out” first.

There definitely needs to be a mechanistic structure laid out so that the assistant coaches know what is expected of them. They can then be held accountable for their actions if they fail to take care of their responsibilities. But if this structure does not exist, the assistants may be left clueless as to what is expected of them and as a result, they can not be as productive as they are capable of. Therefore, I think these expectations need to be communicated through a contract after the head coach discusses each one with the assistant coaches.

In addition, there needs to be some adjustments made in the organic structure of the coaching staff. This can be done by increased communication within the staff. Also, the head coach may need to reshape his/her’s thinking so that he/she views her coaching staff as a “team” or “family” or maybe even a “significant other”, in which communication is key. Although she is the head coach or “breadwinner” in terms of a family or relationship, she still should be able to come down to their level and welcome their opinion and suggestions. This will increase motivation with the assistant coaches are they will be more willing to work and do even more for the common goal of the team.

3. Elaine - February 23, 2007

In management 101, I learned that happy workers do not necessarily mean a productive work unit, but it is a factor. However, keeping employees satisfied is highly recommended in regards to producing a successful company!


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