Eric and Kipsy’s case study helps to demonstrate the complex nature of management and organizational behavior. The case also shows the difficulty in identifying a single solution to a particular problem. Eric is the new manager of product information for a national firm which wholesales electrical components and Kipsy is a clerk. Eric is appointed the new manager right out of management training. He knows virtually nothing about the people he would be managing or the kind of work they did. On his first day Eric was fascinated by the efficiency of the operations. He soon learned how wrong he was on the second day of work.
The salesmen had a list of problems they were experiencing in which they wanted Eric to solve. The three main problems are: Salesmen often were unable to get through quickly to information clerks. Errors were excessive and the clerks were often abrupt and unfriendly to the salesmen when they called. He also noted other problems which came to light which are high absenteeism and turnover, unskilled part time staff, loafing on the job by the clerks etc. Eric was visited by the regional vice president of the company who informed him that sales were falling companywide.
He then developed an Action Plan to increase efficiency, reduce call in delays and slash the error rate. He seems to be a consultative manager which is shown by his approach to his supervisors and team members by holding meeting to try and address the problems. Disaster struck in relation to his new program in that an employee had defaced two posters used to motivate employees. His lack of experience is shown with his failure to take control of his supervisor in respect of the discipline to be maintained within the office. He needed to take his supervisors to task over their failure to deal with the posters immediately. Eric pondered his dilemma and he concluded that the key to his problems was KIPSY.
Kipsy has been an information clerk in Eric’s office for almost a year. In that year she has become increasingly frustrated and unhappy in her work. Kipsy had applied for the job at the company because a friend told her that the company was a great place to work, the pay was excellent and the people she would be working with were friendly and stimulating. It was also known that the company was growing and expanding at a fast clip. To Kipsy that meant that there was a good chance for advancement which was very important to her.
After a few weeks on the job her optimism and excitement was replaced by frustration and disappointment. Many of her new friends were quitting and none of the clerks knew of anybody who had been promoted to management or a better job from the ranks of console operators. Kipsy decided the only good thing about her job was that of becoming the informal leader of the work group. Kipsy was excited when she heard about the new manager who seemed genuinely interested in learning about the job and in hearing what changes people had to suggest. Her opinion about Eric’s managerial abilities dropped sharply a few weeks later mainly because of by what came to be known around the office as the flexible hour’s fiasco. She spoke to Eric about the possibility of advancement in which she did not receive a favorable response.
Her expectations of the bright new manager were dashed which leads her into dysfunctional behavior. This has caused some serious problems as she is the mover in the informal network system. It took the Increase Efficiency program to finally break KIPSY completely. She and another co-worker defaced the motivational posters. Kipsy felt guilty after she had defaced the posters. Frustration is the main cause of her behavior as she recognizes that her actions were wrong but she can see no way of redressing the situation. Statement of the Problem
The company has been experiencing a fall in sales which is a result of internal organizational problems. Listed below are the main problems identified:
High Turnover and Absenteeism
Low customer satisfaction
Lack of Communication
High turnover and Absenteeism – On a daily basis, employees were given a task to operate the consoles by providing the sales men in the field with information about a particular item from the catalogue. This work was monotonous and became very boring for the workers. Although the pay was good, they weren’t motivated to do the same monotonous task daily, so their job involvement decreased. Absenteeism is becoming a major problem to Eric and the business due to the fact that 15 to 20% of the clerks were unlikely to show up for work on any given day especially Monday to Friday. Employees would develop a habit of tardiness, and the turnover rate was very high because 80% of employees on the job quit every year.
Kipsy – Kipsy had emerged as one of the informal leaders of the workforce. She had the power to influence the other employees , teaching them creative ways to loaf on the job; such as ways to “busy out” their consoles and appear as if they we were being productive on the job when really they were not. Kipsy displayed employee deviance by trying to undermine Eric’s attempts to better the organization; she targeted the signs he had put up around the office changing “Increased Efficiency” to “Increased INEfficiency”.
Low customer satisfaction’s – Customers were unsatisfied with the service as they were always kept on hold for a long time. They were always promised to get their items on a specific date and time which almost never happens. Customers are always complaining that the material had not been delivered and the price was different from the one which was quoted to them. This can be seen as a major problem in relation to the clerks in that the salesmen also complain that the clerks are responsible for relaying the information to them in which most times it is incorrect thereby causing low levels of satisfaction in customers.
Lack of communication- The clerks are very disrespectful and unfriendly to the salesmen in the field. The clerks would busy out their consoles when in fact they are free which has led to communication dilemmas with the salespersons as well as delays in salesperson getting through to the clerk. Eric tried to convince the regional office to give him the authority to introduce a flexible scheduling plan however he had been told that 8:30 to 5 are the available hours just like any other personnel policies. Eric could not communicate this information to his employees so he solicits Kipsy to tell the others.
A list of organizational and managerial problems has also been identified. These includes boredom, clerks not being held responsible for their errors, little chance of advancement, management relying too much on formal structure, lack of involvement/participation of management with staff, low levels of motivation, delays in salesperson getting through to clerk’s, excessive errors, abrupt and unfriendly telephone manners, management failure to motivate staff for example no rewards for good work, low job satisfaction, inflexibility of management for example working hours, falling sales, The main cause was due to the un-productivity caused by Kipsy being an informal leader within the organization. Her fellow workers looked to her as their leader and did whatever she asked of them.
Causes of the Problems
Absenteeism – When people start missing work on a regular basis, it means that they do not really enjoy what they are doing or they are not motivated to work. This lack of motivation reduces job involvement which decreases the overall quality of work. High Absenteeism and turnover can be seen as a motivational issue. There are no motivational factors for the employees, which would make them become vigorous in action. A theory of motivation can be used in this case. It is probably safe to say that the best known theory of motivation is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow employees have five levels of needs physiological, safety, (lower order needs) social, Esteem and self actualization (higher order needs). In this case employee’s lower order needs are satisfied therefore Eric needs to motivate the clerks by fulfilling their higher order needs.
The company needs to motivate the employees by following this level in allowing easier and more opportunities for employees to attain higher positions and expand the possibility for growth in which they are not willing to give their employees. What do the clerks want from their jobs? In this case the clerks are looking for intrinsic factors as explained by Hertzberg in the two factor theory. These factors include advancement, recognition, responsibility and achievement which are definitely missing from the company. In his theory he cited extrinsic factors such as supervision, pay, company policies and working conditions which lead to dissatisfaction in employees.
Despite the four managers not functioning effectively and the pay not was not great but they got increases every year, this was not the focus of the clerks’ dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction can be seen in the clerk’s behavior as a result of the company policy, where clerks wanted flextime and it was turned down by management. Another cause of dissatisfaction is working conditions which were not difficult but monotonous which led to boredom. This dissatisfaction has led to the high turnover rate and absenteeism. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Hertzberg Two Factor theories have explained the underlying cause of the company’s problem of High absenteeism and turnover.
Kipsy – Kipsy had self efficacy because she saw herself capable of performing tasks at a higher level. Kipsy was the informal leader however just like any other clerk Kipsy needed to be motivated to give her best. Kipsy not receiving what she expected from the company has caused her to become deviant thereby creating some of the problems the company is presently facing. The ERG theory states that there are three groups of core needs: existence, relatedness and growth. In relation to Kipsy, her existence need is already catered for. Relatedness – She wanted to maintain the relationship of the other clerks who look up to her as an informal leader.
Growth – She had an intrinsic desire for personal development. Moreover, the theory has a “frustration-regression” hypothesis, suggesting that individuals who are frustrated in their attempts to satisfy one need may regress to another one. For example, Kipsy was frustrated by the lack of growth opportunities in her job and the slow progress toward career goals which caused her relatedness needs to increase by spending more time socializing with the other clerks. The implication of this theory is that we need to recognize the multiple needs that may be driving Kipsy at a given point to understand her behavior and motivate her.
Low Customer satisfaction – Further we learnt in the case that there was a major problem of customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, the main reason why the organization has a low level of customer satisfaction is due to the fact the employees are not being productive at work.
Lack of communication – Excellent communication skills are essential for good performance management. They are important skills used in the entire management process from planning and communicating work expectations to recognizing employees for their successful achievements. In this case it can be clearly seen that there is a lack of communication between the information clerks and the sales men also Eric and the clerks. As we learnt in the case when employees felt overwhelmed with the work they would busy out their consoles so customers will not get through to them. This has resulted in an overall fall in sales. Lack of leadership, undertrained part time clerks, limited feedback and employee’s disengagement are poor communication methods which had led to many of the problems the company is facing. Eric has failed to relay on a number of messages or information which has caused low job satisfaction among employees. The existing communication system was just downward; this was a problem because of its one way nature.
Managers inform employees but rarely solicit their advice or opinions. This was seen when kipsy proposed pre-scheduling working hours to Eric in which he stated “the people upstairs won’t let us do it”. For a company to be successful, information needs to flow in both directions, from top to bottom and from bottom to top. A 2006 study revealed that nearly two-thirds of employees say their boss rarely or never ask their advice. The study noted, “Organizations are always striving for higher employee engagement, but evidence indicates they unnecessarily create fundamental mistakes. People need to be respected and listened to.” For example companies like Nokia actively listen to employee suggestions, a practice the company thinks is especially important to innovation.
This can include change in overall management structure, improve communications which includes staff involvement and meetings, review training program for part time staff, try to change company policy on flexible working hours, review supervisory roles, incentive schemes (not necessarily pay), meetings between clerks and salespersons.
Recommended solutions and its implementation
Eric needs to be aware of individual differences when communicating with the employees. He needs to spend more time with workers and try and understand their concerns and needs. Be up-to date about any issue and deliver the clerks problem to top management and push them to take action. Eric should give feedback. Although he has spent a modest amount of his time with his employees we have not seen him giving any feedback to them. He can give oral feedback to encourage the employees rather than let kipsy take the role. If we want to examine why high absenteeism and employee turnover rate, low customer satisfaction, lack of communication and Kipsy are problems we have to look at motivation.
The clerks and salesmen are not motivated to work as it is reflected in the poor performance as they are not happy in their jobs. See below some suggestions to motivate the employees: Recognize individual differences — Everyone in the organization has their own abilities to perform a specific task efficiently therefore clerks and salesmen should be rewarded based on their performance.
This will motivate them to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism and turnover. Match people to jobs – Choose the right person for the right job. This is a managerial problem especially HR as it is not appropriate to employ people with good abilities and potential in the call center as in the example of KIPSY. Increase work quality – The quality of work must also be improved. Every time a wrong code is typed into the computer and wrong information is given a customer is left dissatisfied. This could be improved by designing shorter number, letters to type and also it would be easier for the clerks to remember. Eric should adopt one of Henry Mintzberg ten management roles which is the role of : Disseminator. To be a good disseminator you need to know how to share information and outside views effectively, which means that good communication skills are vital.