Discussion Post Questions 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6
Accomplishing high employee commitment levels within business organizations presents difficulties since individuals are not endlessly manipulable and predictable as it would be thought. This argument is supported by the findings of existing studies. For instance, in a study executed by researchers, who are top-tier of the economics profession, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on an entire group of students, learners were given a set of challenges including solving word puzzles, memorizing strings of digits, and spatial puzzles among others (RSA, 2010). The researchers adopted a typical organizational scheme for rewarding employees within an organization whereby top performers are rewarded and bottom performers are ignored. Three reward levels were granted to incentivize performance including a small monetary reward for students who did pretty well, a medium monetary reward for learners who performed medium well, and large cash prize for the student who did really well (RSA, 2010). The researchers established that as long as the task only involves mechanical skill bonuses functioned as it would be expected, in that higher payment or reward attracted better performance, but once the tasks required rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward contributed to poorer performance (RSA, 2010). These findings were replicated when the researchers opted to move their study to a place where the reward was relatively significant in Modura, rural India. The outcomes of these two studies showed that when it comes to simple, straightforward tasks, rewards work, but in situations involving complicated tasks-rewards do not work. Therefore, it can be noted that apart from rewards, three factors including autonomy, mastery, and purpose contribute to employee motivation and commitment.
Autonomy refers to individuals’ desire to be self-directed or direct their own lives (RSA, 2010). Nonetheless, conventional notions of management act contrary to the concept of autonomy considering that management is effective in case compliance is needed, but ineffective when engagement is needed. Self-direction is better than management in situations where engagement is required. This observation was evident in Atlassian, which is an Australian software organization, where the company’s management permits their developers, once a quarter on a Thursday, to work on anything they want for the next twenty-four hours and submit their results thereafter (RSA, 2010). The organization’s management established that this approach resulted in fixes for existing software and a range of ideas for novel products that would have not been realized prior to granting employees excessive or undiluted autonomy.
Mastery involves the urge to become better at performing tasks. Individuals seem to be more engaged and register better performance when they are subjected to tasks that demand high skills and are technically sophisticated, as they permit challenge, mastery, and making a contribution (RSA, 2010). In relation to the aspect of purpose, it can be noted that individuals are purpose maximizers, and not only profit maximizers. When profit motive is paramount or unmoored from the purpose motive, poor performance is realized. Therefore, organizations are increasingly moving towards the embracement of a form of transcendent purpose, as this lowers turnover rates and enhances the identification of the required talents (RSA, 2010). As such, it can be noted that high commitments result in the development of novel ideas and innovations, quality services and products, reduces turnover rates, enhances the identification of required skills, and lowers costs by limiting the need for financial rewards.
RSA. (2010, April 1). RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc
Question Three: Cross-Cultural Remote Teams
Contemporary employees are increasingly demanding flexibility in the workplace, as they are more focused on deciding or determining where to work. Some of the benefits associated with flexibility within the workplace are employees working more hours, creating more employee benefits at low cost, and creating loyalty for individuals within the workplace (TEDx Talks, 2017). As such, remote working teams are considered more appropriate for providing the flexibility needed by modern-day workers or millennials. Nonetheless, with the change in the workplace setting to involve remote teams, managers are facing different challenges, especially with the presence of cross-cultural dissimilarities in such teams (TEDx Talks, 2017). In relation to this, different managers embrace different approaches when it comes to responding to change as evident in the videos. When dealing with remote cross-cultural remote teams, managers’ differences in reacting to organizational changes can be attributed to their differences in relation to the perception or comprehension of factors such as cultural discrepancies, variations in contexts, and physical presence.
Cultural differences can present major problems when it comes to communicating with remote teams. In the YouTube video entitled “Managing Cross Cultural Remote Teams”, Ricardo Fernandez highlights an instance when cultural differences possessed communication problems when communicating with a coworker from a different culture. In this instance, Fernandez misunderstood the statement made by his South-African coworker who told him that he was going to “call him soon” to imply that the call would be done immediately (TEDx Talks, 2017). Fernandez ended up waiting for the call longer than he expected, and when he inquired from one of his colleagues, he was surprised to note that different cultures have different implications for time expression. For instance, his South-African coworker implied a later time when he said he could call him soon (TEDx Talks, 2017). As such, cultural differences play a significant role in influencing managers’ reactions to organizational change.
Contextual difference is also a significant barrier and factor that influences managers’ reaction to change in organizations, especially situations associated with remote cross-cultural teams. For example, Fernandez refers to an instance when he commended one of his Indian co-workers and team member for performing well using the statement, “You are killing it out there” (TEDx Talks, 2017). The following morning, his colleague sent him an email inquiring about what he had done wrong. Even though Fernandez was trying to express his enthusiasm for the great job done by his co-workers, the colleague ended up perceiving his statement in a negative way. Physical presence is also a significant influence of managers’ effectiveness in dealing with change. Even though employees, who work remotely, require flexibility, they still need physical presence occasionally (TEDx Talks, 2017). The absence of physical presence may result in loneliness, thereby negatively impacting performance. To address these challenges, managers should engage in more learning about cross-cultural differences including communication issues. Managers should also pay adequate attention to the context during their communications, as a means of addressing challenges arising from differences in contexts. Furthermore, managers should also focus on embracing physical presence on certain occasions to add empathy to the team, as suggested by Fernandez (TEDx Talks, 2017).
TEDx Talks. (2017, June 15). Managing Cross Cultural Remote Teams | Ricardo Fernandez | TEDxIESEBarcelona [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIoAkFpN8wQ
Question Four: Leadership Theories
Zigarelli (2014) highlights the top ten leadership theories including the great man theory, the trait theory of leadership, the skills theory of leadership, the style theory of leadership, the situational leadership theory, the contingency theory, transactional leadership, transformational leadership, leader-member exchange theory, and servant leadership theory. Even though the trait theory of leadership and the skills theory of leadership seem to resemble each other, these two theories are significantly different from each other. The dissimilarity between these two theories exists in the fact that the trait theory of leadership focuses on traits or characteristics of leaders, whereas the skills theory of leadership emphasizes the skills of leaders (Zigarelli, 2014).
The trait theory of leadership is focused on the identification of the traits or characteristics that leaders should pursue for them to lead effectively (Zigarelli, 2014). Thus, even though this theory of leadership is easy to comprehend owing to its straightforward nature, it can result in the identification of numerous traits, which in turn complicates its application or practice (Zigarelli, 2014). Besides, there is no single set of traits that has emerged as the most ideal for all circumstances, which in turn makes this leadership theory overwhelming for leaders to attempt (Zigarelli, 2014). On the other hand, the skill theory of leadership emphasizes the practical skills that can make effective leaders including technical skills, people skills, and conceptual skills (Zigarelli, 2014). As such, it can be noted that unlike the traits theory of leadership, which is not specific on the traits needed for leaders to be effective, the skills theory of leadership is more specific on the practical skills required for individuals to lead effectively. Technical skills are associated with the leaders being good at what they are doing, as a means of earning them credibility (Zigarelli, 2014). People skills involve persuasion and diplomacy skills among others (Zigarelli, 2014). Conceptual skills are associated with the ability to perceive the bigger picture and view events or actions in a strategic manner.
Considering that there is a significant difference between the traits theory of leadership and the skills theory of leadership, situations may arise where one theory would work, while the other theory would not. For instance, in a circumstance where the company is facing the challenge of convincing employees to employ a new system or machine in the production of goods owing to the reluctance of such workers to abandon their old way or technique of production, a leader who employs the traits theory of leadership cannot be effective in persuading employees to adopt the new technique of production. Even though such a leader may possess traits such as the ability to inspires, good communicator, and confidence, these traits may not be helpful in a scenario where employees require demonstration on the part of their leader prior to their adoption of the novel technique. In such a circumstance, the application of the skills theory of leadership could be effective in that the leader can complement his or her persuasive skills (people skills) with technical skills in demonstrating to the employees the ease of using the new system. As such, the skills theory of leadership can be effective in such a situation as it enables a leader to lead by example, which in this case is the demonstration of how a new system or technique of production functions.
Zigarelli, M. (2014, Feb 25). Ten Leadership Theories in Five Minutes [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=xB-YhBbtfXE&feature=youtu.be
Question 5: Companies Going Green
Recent years have witnessed executives increasingly declaring their intentions to go green (Bert, 2013). Going green implies the reduction or elimination of the negative impact of business activities on the planet and society (Bert, 2013). In the video entitled “The case for letting business solve social problems” by Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) (2013), Michael Porter discusses how business organizations can manage to go green by assisting in addressing ecological and social problems such as poor nutrition, climate change, access to water, pollution, global warming in an effective manner. When it comes to addressing social as well as ecological issues the focus of companies is often on social organizations and the government. However, Porter argues that companies shifting their thinking away from perceiving non-for-profit organizations or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as the sole solution to social and ecological problems. According to Porter, this nature of thinking only results in the attainment of limited progress or solutions to addressing social issues (TED, 2013). As such, it can be noted that the primary hindrance to companies going green is their inability to make a large-scale impact on social problems (TED, 2013).
The absence of resources, particularly finances, is a significant contributor to the problem of scale (TED, 2013). Therefore, the inability of business organizations to scale is fundamentally a resource problem. Nonetheless, it is ironic that the resources needed to address the social problems exist in businesses (TED, 2013). Businesses are the major creators of wealth. According to TED (2013), wealth amounting to $20.1 trillion is owned by corporations, whereas Non-profits and government own wealth valuing to $1.2 trillion and $3.1 trillion respectively in US. It is significant to note that businesses create wealth when they meet needs at a profit that leads to incomes taxes, and charitable donations (TED, 2013). As such, the key to going green lies in utilizing the profit earned by companies or businesses to address social problems. Porter asserts that in the long run businesses can make a profit by solving social problems such as pollution (TED, 2013). For instance, reducing pollution makes businesses productive and efficient in terms of avoiding the wastage of resources (TED, 2013). In relation to this, businesses should embrace the concept of shared value by creating social and economic value through collaboration with the government. Such undertaking will enable businesses to benefit society by addressing social and ecological problems, and still manage to make profits in return. Some of the measures that companies should adopt to help in addressing social, as well as ecological problems are investing in innovations and training of employees (TED, 2013). Innovations such as efficient ways of irrigating crops can contribute to avoiding wastage of water while training employees to increase their knowledge and skill levels so that they can address social problems. All these measures contribute significantly to increasing the efficiency levels of businesses or companies in terms of minimizing the negative impacts of their operations on the environment and establishing novel solutions to addressing the ecological and social problems society faces.