Question 2: Motivation and Employee Commitment
The video challenges the traditional belief that motivating employees by introducing bonus pay always leads to higher productivity. Instead, the author cites a number of research studies showing that motivation is only helpful in improving productivity in tasks requiring mechanical skills, but fails to achieve the same outcome in tasks requiring rudimentary cognitive skills (RSA, 2010). For this reason, managers are encouraged not to focus solely on motivation using money, but rather to introduce three elements that lead to personal satisfaction and better performance; autonomy, purpose, and mastery. Providing these three elements creates employee commitment. This section of the essay discusses why achieving high levels of employee commitment within business organizations is difficult. It further explores potential benefits to be achieved through high employee commitment.
Because of the pitfalls of investing in employee motivation, organizations, through their human resource departments are opting to focus more on employee commitment. According to Estigoy, Sulasula, and Guodu (2020), employee commitment denotes the degree of enthusiasm shown by the employees towards their work and the workplace. It further refers to the bond the employees feel and experience with the organization, which in turn makes them accept to pursue organizational goals. Even though a high commitment level is a source of competitive advantage, most organizations have difficulties achieving high commitment levels.
The reasons for this challenge occur at three levels; personal, organizational, and supervisory levels. At the personal level, hiring the wrong people could greatly hinder their commitment (Iles, Mabey & Robertson, 2020). In regard to the personal level, the lack of commitment often arises when an organization hires people that are generally uncommitted or whose skills fail to match those required by the firm. As a result, the organization has to ensure that it hires employees who are enthusiastic and whose personal goals align with those of the organization. The lack of motivators such as employee’s growth and development programs, and flexible working arrangements could also reduce commitment levels (Iles et al., 2020). An organization is therefore required to provide career growth opportunities through continuous training and development of the employees. Besides, the organization should be respectful and recognize the needs and wishes of the employees such as providing them with a work-life balance.
At the organizational level, the main challenges to optimizing employee commitment include; the organizational culture and leadership style. According to Siengthai, Swierczek, and Bamel (2019), there are four primary types of corporate culture; clan, adhocracy, market, and hierarchy cultures. The authors note that the clan culture is likely to foster higher commitment levels, followed by adhocracy, and market cultures. The hierarchy culture cultivates the least commitment. For this reason, firms using the latter will have lower involvement and engagement levels resulting in difficulties heightening commitment. On the contrary, the clan culture thrives on mentorship, teamwork, and integration. As a result, it creates a community of workers who are more engaged and committed.
Besides culture, a study by Clinebell et al. (2013) indicates that laissez-faire leadership makes it difficult for firms to achieve high commitment levels while transactional and transformational leadership styles have a positive effect on the commitment levels of the employees. Similarly, the style of leadership adopted by the supervisors will affect the commitment levels. Supervisors who bully and deny the employees opportunities to work autonomously tend to make it difficult for firms to achieve higher levels of commitment. Despite these difficulties, the firms that heighten their employee commitment achieve a range of benefits namely; high productivity, reduced absenteeism, excellent teamwork, strong advocates for the company, and increased transparency. These benefits contribute towards creating sustainable competitive advantages.
Clinebell, S., Skudiene, V., Trijonyte, R., & Reardon, J. (2013). Impact of leadership styles on employee organizational commitment. Journal of Service Science (JSS), 6(1), 139-152.
Estigoy, E., Sulasula, J., & Guodu, X. A. (2020). Factors Affecting Employee Commitment in the Workplace: An Analysis. Journal of Education and Practice, 11(27), 160-171.
Iles, P., Mabey, C., & Robertson, I. (2020). HRM practices and employee commitment: Possibilities, pitfalls and paradoxes. British Journal of Management, 1(3), 147-157.
RSA. (2010). RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates us. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc
Siengthai, S., Swierczek, F., & Bamel, U. K. (2019). The effects of organizational culture and commitment on employee innovation: evidence from Vietnam’s IT industry. Journal of Asia Business Studies.
Question 3: Cross-Cultural Remote Teams
Based on Fernandez’s presentation on TEDx, it is certain that remote working and flexible working arrangements will define the future of work. This statement is seconded by statistics noting that the millennial workers valued training and development as their first priority followed by flexible working arrangements (TEDx Talks, 2017). When intertwined with technological advancements, globalization, and market liberalization, then it is certain that the future workplace with embrace more cross-cultural workers than ever before. From the experiences shared by Fernandez, the listener is made to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by such arrangements. This essay, therefore, explains the differences in the way the managers reacted to organizational changes touching on cross-cultural remote teams. It further makes recommendations to the managers and leaders of Macy’s and IBM.
The video expresses how most managers are unprepared or underprepared on how best to deal with cross-cultural teams. Some of the factors that make it hard to manage cross-cultural teams include language barriers, cultural differences, and differences in time zones, and technological differences. For instance, some employees have challenges accessing telecommunication services such as fast internet and quality devices to facilitate connectivity to available internet infrastructure. Besides, the challenge of cultural differences hampers effective communication among the people involved in teleconferencing. Differences in time zones subjects some workers to unfavorable work conditions. For instance, a manager working with employees in diverse time zones might be forced or might force the employees to work at odd hours which could be extremely compromising for either party. Also, the issue of language barrier could make it hard for the parties involved in Zoom or Skype online meetings to understand each other. Surprisingly, these issues are universal and affect all the cross-cultural teams working for multinational firms, whether big or small.
The reaction of the managers to the organizational changes is therefore determined by their prior knowledge of managing cross-cultural teams. The managers who have the experience, skills, and knowledge on handling cross-cultural workers have an easier time managing change compared to those without such skills, knowledge, and experience (Usunier, Van Herk & Lee, 2017). As a result, some managers will be easy working with diverse teams while others will be uncomfortable. To effectively address the issues associated with working with remote cross-cultural teams, it is recommended that they enroll in training and development initiatives to improve their mastery of cross-cultural and remote working concepts.
Second, the manager should focus on creating an open environment where the employees can engage freely, even when working remotely. Such interactions will enable them to learn each other’s culture and develop a higher tolerance for diversity. The manager will also interact more with the employees and thus, understand them further while also, appreciating the diversity presented by remote cross-cultural teams (Usunier, Van Herk & Lee, 2017). Engaging in open conversations over a prolonged time will allow the teams and the managers to understand each other and appreciate individual differences. Third, the managers should invest in promoting trust among the different employees. Mistrust is a leading cause of failure of remote cross-cultural teams; therefore, the management should ensure that the employees can trust each other when engaging virtually.
TEDx Talks. (2017). Managing Cross Cultural Remote Teams | Ricardo Fernandez | TEDx IESE Barcelona. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIoAkFpN8wQ
Usunier, J. C., Van Herk, H., & Lee, J. A. (2017). International and cross-cultural business research. Sage.
Question 4: Ten Leadership Theories
The video by Morgan and Zigarelli (2014) identifies ten leadership theories. These are the great man theory which argues that leaders are born with natural abilities to influence and lead. The trait theory of leadership acknowledges that leaders are predisposed with some ideal traits which make them capable of leading. The skills theory emphasizes that a leader should have conceptual, personal, and technical skills to lead efficiently. The style theory of leadership uses the managerial grid to infer that a leader should balance concern for people while simultaneously focusing on performance. The contingency theory argues that leadership is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor but rather, an organization has to select the right leader for each situation. The transactional leadership theory posits that a leader should understand how to balance punishment, rewards, and incentives. The transformational leadership theory on the other hand postulates that leaders should be caring, encouraging, and inspiring to gain the commitment of their followers. The leader-member exchange theory adopts similar characteristics as the transactional theory; however, it emphasizes that leaders should understand how to manage outgroups and ingroups (Morgan & Zigarelli, 2014). The servant leadership theory encourages leaders to adopt a Jesus-like style of leadership by identifying the followers’ needs and fulfilling them. This backdrop guides the identification and subsequent comparison of transactional and transformational theories.
The transformational theory argues that leaders should use charism to create enthusiasm and inspire followers into working collectively to achieve organizational goals. On the contrary, transactional leadership theory believes that leaders should use incentives, rewards, and punishment to motivate followers (Silva & Mendis, 2017). In regard to the underlying concepts of these two theories, the transformational theory emphasizes that the followers should have the ideals, values, and morals needed to achieve the intended goal. On the contrary, the transformational theory emphasizes that the relations between the followers and leader should be regulated in a way that enhances productivity. These comparisons lead to the affirmative that whereas the nature of transformational leadership is proactive, transactional leadership is reactive. As a result, transformational leadership can best be used in a turbulent environment, while transformational leadership is best applied in a settled or stable environment (Hay, 2016). For instance, the transformational approach can best be used in implementing organizational changes, especially when transforming the culture, whereas the transactional approach is best when an organization wants to develop existing cultures to foster efficiency and accountability.
As illustrated in the previous paragraph, the transformational approach can best apply in the retail industry which is facing an uncertain future as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Applying this theory will enable the leader to work closely with the followers, and inspire them into making innovations that will improve the competitiveness of the firm. Using the transformational approach in the scenario of the retail industry will be ineffective because of the following reasons. First, firms lack the finances to offer employees as motivators to entice them into improving their performance. Secondly, the use of punishment on demotivated employees would only delineate them further leading to higher absenteeism and turnover. This scenario emphasizes that one theory can work best in a scenario where another theory might be ineffective.
Hay, I. (2016). Leadership of stability and leadership of volatility: Transactional and transformational leaderships compared. Academic Leadership: The Online Journal, 4(4), 6.
Morgan, S. & Zigarelli, M. (2014). Ten Leadership Theories in Five Minutes. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB-YhBbtfXE
Silva, S., & Mendis, B. A. K. M. (2017). Relationship between transformational, transaction and laissez-faire leadership styles and employee commitment. European Journal of Business and Management, 9(7), 13-21.
Question 5: Theories of Competition, Economy, and Ecological Problems
In the Ted Global Talk show, Michael Porter, the guru credited with strategic philosophies talks extensively about the role of competition on strengthening economies. However, he laments that instead of solving problems, most businesses are the leading cause of ecological and social challenges (Porter, 2013). He notes that firms should strive to achieve the triple bottom goal which entails balancing profits, planet, and people. Considering these sentiments, this question discusses how companies that go green help in solving ecological and social problems.
It is true that when companies go green, they help solve many social and ecological problems. For instance, companies that go green increase their efficiency of production processes thus producing less wastes, achieving higher efficiency in recycling, reduce energy consumption, and also save water. In the process, they reduce their ecological or carbon footprint which is good for the environment and the society as a whole. The question, however, is how can green companies solve societal and ecological problems. First, green companies can solve current problems by embracing a circular economic model rather than the linear model which is currently used by most firms. The linear economy model is considered inefficient and emphasizes profitability without regard for society and the environment (Sariatli, 2017). On the contrary, the circular economy model advocates for a system of production where the end products are recycled for reuse. The circular model has proven sustainable since it reduces landfills arising from improper disposal of the wastes. Even though this approach has been successful in solving the societal problem of landfills, companies using the linear economic model continue to prioritize profits at the expense of poor dumping of their wastes and overexploitation of natural resources. The outcome of their actions is likely to be very detrimental to society and the ecology.
The second approach on how companies going green can help solve social and ecological problems is by investing in corporate social responsibility programs. According to Carroll’s CSR model, an organization focused on embracing CSR has to balance the four goals, namely; economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic objectives (Carroll, 2021). Therefore, companies that go green by introducing CSR help society by first, making profits. Second, adhering to environmental laws. Third, by engaging in ethical practices, and fourth, by being philanthropic and engaging in discretionary activities. For instance, green companies such as Patagonia have invested in programs that educate their customers about the need to recycle their clothing and footwear products through the worn-wear program (Ims, 2019). Through the program, the company picks and replaces old clothing and shoes from the customers, refurbishes them, and sells them as pre-loved. This way, the company lengthens the life of its products. Besides, it prevents the customers from engaging in consumerism which is the leading cause of most of the current problems facing businesses and society. By adopting CSR, these companies solve societal problems by reducing the exploitation of natural resources. On the other hand, they solve ecological problems by reducing the dumping of their old products. Instead, the customers wear or use the products longer thus gaining value and also reducing landfills.
Carroll, A. B. (2021). Corporate Social Responsibility: Perspectives on the CSR Construct’s Development and Future. Business & Society, 00076503211001765.
Ims, K. J. (2019). Caring Entrepreneurship and Ecological Conscience—The Case of Patagonia Inc. In Caring Management in the New Economy (pp. 197-220). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Porter, M. (2013). The Case for Letting Business Solve Social Problems. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_porter_the_case_for_letting_business_solve_social_problems#t-261392
Sariatli, F. (2017). Linear economy versus circular economy: A comparative and analyzer study for optimization of economy for sustainability. Visegrad Journal on Bioeconomy and Sustainable Development, 6(1), 31-34.
Question 6: Organizational Change and Change in Management
The most important point I picked from this course concerns the topic of motivation. I enjoyed learning new concepts about the topic. One of the most interesting moments was when I watched the RSA (2010) video on motivation. The narrator forced me to think critically about motivation and all the theories that I have grown up believing. When I started watching the video, I could hardly understand why the present begun by noting that our motivations or motivators are unbelievably interesting. I believe he approached the topic from the perspective of the employee and not the employer or the HR manager. This is noted in the way he notes that human beings are not endlessly predictable and manipulable like everyone, and mostly the theorists think. He quotes studies done by credible institutions of higher learning which challenged the conventional knowledge arguing that financial rewards automatically trigger increased output and productivity from the employees. His attack on the typical motivational scheme used by the organization was an eye-opener that made me think critically about the whole topic of motivation. Right now, I am enthused to conduct more research on the topic to find a new grounding since my previous beliefs on motivation has seriously been shaken.
My interest is directed at establishing the presenter’s argument that financial rewards only influence the output of tasks requiring mechanical skills and not those involving rudimentary skills. His assertion that a larger reward for tasks needing rudimentary skills will attract poor performance is equally interesting as it is astonishing. I will have to conduct critical and intensive research to ascertain this statement. In general, however, I understand that the topic of motivation is central in the implementation of organizational change and change management. In fact, most of the change management theories emphasize the need for motivation to influence the employees and entice them into embracing change. These theories include; Lewin’s change management model, McKinsey’s 7-S model, nudge theory, Kubler-ross change curve, and Kotter’s theory (Stouten, Rousseau & De Cremer, 2018). Notably, change is an activity that is loathed by most employees. In fact, it is believed that human beings hate change. They prefer retaining the status quo especially when it involves facing an uncomfortable situation. In such scenarios, it is important to introduce motivators which could range from financial to non-financial incentives.
I have had the first-hand experience of organizations that motivate employees and those that lack motivation plans. I bet I would prefer an organization that motivates me, not only financially but also, using non-financial incentives. For this reason, one of the lessons that I wish others can learn is that motivation is a key driver to realizing employee engagement. Even in situations where an organization is encountering resistance during change management, as is the case in the retail industry in the USA, the best way around the issue is by involving the employees in designing personalized motivation programs. The motivation plans can be non-financial altogether, especially when the firm is facing financial constraints and is investing in cost-cutting. Offers such as flexible working arrangements, complimenting employees, and acknowledging their efforts in embracing change will go a long way in helping the organization to meet its goals. In line with the aspect of motivation, I believe that out of the ten leadership theories, transformational leadership theory is the most powerful and applicable to most organizations.