The Consolidated Life Case Study Essay

The main problem in this case is the conflict between two different cultures underlined by two divergent management styles. A loose and people-oriented management style, applied by the supervisor Mike Wilson which proved to be efficient with the current situation of Consolidated Life company, versus a strict and task-oriented management style exercised by the senior vice president Jack Greely, a style assumed by the management to be the reference model that reflects the company’s culture and to be followed by all managers.

Clash of cultures and management styles

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When Mike first got hired, the culture was “laissez faire” with flexible supervisory style, supervisors were free to manage their units as they saw fit and the management was tolerant to some limits. This culture permitted Mike Wisely to go far with his flexible management and create a loose and casual atmosphere in the company. Mike was more into a family type of culture with personal, face-to-face relationship with his team members. After he returned to the company, the management changed to be more tough and stricter with rules enforcement and task-oriented style. People have to do the work following the vice president rules and procedures with no margin of freedom or self-initiatives. Management, by oppression and hardship, governed the atmosphere in the company that some employees felt like working in a prison. Tension among employees, especially supervisors, was very high and people were looking for new jobs and this was reflected into poor job quality. Jack was more into a guided missile culture with impersonal relationships and task-oriented approach.

This disparity in the management styles between Mike and his boss was the main source of Mike’s problems inside the company. The management wanted him to conform to their style and methods and to follow orders and rules instead of taking the lead and do things differently. Being very ambitious and always looking for new potentials Mike couldn’t submit to the management’s  will. On the contrary, he started looking for a way to change the management style of his boss, which aggravated the problem and lead to his exit from the company.

Conflicting Values

Mike believes that the main value resides in achieving good results whatever are the means or the management style followed to realize these results. He is totally convinced that he is doing the right thing by realizing great results without the need to apply strict rules on his subordinates and this belief is clearly illustrated by the sign on this office’s door saying: “ Any fool can manage by rules. It takes an uncommon man to manage without any”. This sign representing an artifact reflecting his particular culture of doing things.

On the contrary, Jack believes that obeying to the company’s culture and management style is the key value in the company. Results should be achieved under the conformity of company’s style and procedures without any subjective interpretation from managers’ side.

Different Leadership styles

Mike shows a leadership style characterized by a free spirit, unorthodox, flexible management and people oriented. It is much like a country club management style focused a lot on people and a little on the rules. It is a kind of supportive leadership being very friendly and approachable, showing a lot of concerns for status and needs of subordinates.

On the other hand, Jack’s leadership is characterized by being task-oriented, strict with rules enforcement. It is similar to Authority obedience management style, which concentrates on the efficiency of the operations and solicitation of rules and procedures with less attention to people needs and concerns.

Power and Politics

Mike has a referent power on its peers (the supervisors) and on his subordinates due to his friendly relationship with them. They like to work with him and from his side he is assuring that they are receiving good trainings and raises when they deserve them. Mike tried to use politically his power on other supervisors to form a kind of coalition by creating a supervisors forum and use it as a weapon to force Jack to change his management style. He was pretty sure that a group inside the organization would have bigger influence then working individually to reach his goal. Apparently the forum’s target was to enhance the training program inside the company but actually Mike wanted to change his boss’s management style and pass the dissatisfaction of the employees from the current situation.

Jack used his legitimate and coercive power being the senior vice president of the division and capable to make things difficult to others. He threatened many times that those who don’t like his way of work can simply leave.

Lack of promotion

Having a different management style was the main reason behind Mike’s lack of promotion. The management wanted to send him a serious message by depriving him from the promotion, the message is that he needs to change his way of work otherwise he will have no place inside the company. The decision was not fair at all because Mike showed very good results by using his eccentric management style and this style allowed him to excel in his own business after he left the company.

In addition, the union founded by Mike and formed by the supervisors contributed a lot in the promotion decision. The management considered the union as a big threat and wanted to deal with it by reproaching its founder.

Actions could have been taken

The company could have encouraged Mike for his good results, while trying to explain in a friendly and constructive manner that he needed to be more strict in his management to cope with the company’s culture. The company should have provided a clear definition of its values and its style to the employees in a continuous manner to keep them aware of the management expectations so they can adapt to the company’s culture and not to be shocked by unfair decisions like the deprivation of a deserved promotion. I believe that the company could have recognized Mike for his great effort and supported him in its decision-making and not criticizing him when he tried something different.

This for sure would have given a great empowerment and motivation to Mike and made him excel further in his work and for sure he would have shown a bigger commitment toward the company; a normative commitment that would have let him feel an internal obligation to stay and serve the company. With that commitment he might have ended up with adjusting his management style to pay more attention to administrative duties and to obey more to the rules and procedures.

I believe that Jack could consider also a change in his management style. Imposing this “management by oppression” culture has a bad impact on the company by creating conflicts and clashes with good members with great potentials like Mike. It also creates “barriers for change” inside the company, a change that might be for the sake of the company.

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