The organization chosen for analysis is a service company, Bell Group Inc. The population of this company consists of 87 employees. The population is diverse in terms of cultural and social backgrounds. 30% of all employees are Americans and 70 % of employees come from different cultures. There are no great religious differences. 67% of all employees are men and 33% are women. The average age of the employees is 30-35 years. Only 6 of them are 45-50 years old.
Application of the system approach revealed that there were many motivation and performance problems that had to be resolved before this division could become a competitive, performance-based organization. Since salespeople weren’t held accountable for their performance, many never bothered to develop the skills they needed to achieve better results. Problems were widespread because outcomes had never been tied to performance — an unfortunate precedent that had been set by management many years earlier.
The ongoing lack of achievement counteracted any positive feelings people had about their work, and many people were mismatched with their jobs. Since results were not a major concern of management, a little attempt had been made to ensure the right organizational fit for employees, so many found their jobs to be intrinsically dissatisfying. On the surface, any organizational application of the belief may seem to contradict the very principles on which the approach is based. According to the system, after all, motivation and performance problems are unique to individuals and can only be solved satisfactorily between managers and their direct reports (Campbell 97).
The main environmental factors which determine the distribution of resources are economic conditions and competition. This is the primary function of the one-on-one session, as the company may recall, and the rationale for involving employees in finding solutions to motivation problems. The work that one of us conducted with an insurance company several years ago demonstrates this point. This company, one of the largest in its industry, was planning a major organizational change that involved job redesign in two critical functions: customer service and casework. The objective of the change effort was to shorten the time it took to resolve customer problems, which in the past had involved employees from both departments.
Traditionally, the main job of the customer service agents was to take calls from customers with problems or complaints, gather any relevant information about the problems from customers, and turn this information over to a department staffed with caseworkers (Campbell, 98). These back-office professionals would then analyze and research the problems they were handed, decide how to resolve them, and call back the customers to relay their decisions.
The employees who worked in these two functions were as different as night and day. The customer service agents tended to be friendly, easygoing people who demonstrated superior interpersonal skills as well as a warm and caring attitude with customers. The caseworkers, on the other hand, were hard-charging, decisive problem solvers who focused primarily on resolving issues as quickly as possible. The job redesign called for the merger of these two positions; each employee, in other words, would perform both functions for a single customer.
As an entrepreneur, I can say that the analysis also pointed out that training would probably not rectify this situation. The two functions call for radically different personality types, and few people embody both. Those who are good at interacting with, customers tend not to be hard-charging problem solvers and vice versa. It’s simply unrealistic to expect these employees to master a position that requires such a wide range of capabilities and skills.
Campbell, D.J. Organizations and the Business Environment. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997.