Skills for Business Leadership Executive Research Paper

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" Nevertheless, the research to date indicates that participative management techniques can provide a major return on the investment. According to Angermeier, Dunford and Boss (2009, p. 127), "Employee perceptions of the extent to which their work climate is participative rather than authoritarian have important implications for critical work attitudes and behavior."

The research to date has confirmed that employees in highly participative work environments outperformed their counterparts in nonparticipative management organizations (Angermeier et al. 2009). For example, a study by Angermeier and his associates found that employees working in participative management settings provided 14% better customer service, committed 26% fewer clinical errors, demonstrated 79% lower burnout, and were 61% less likely to leave the organization than employees in more authoritarian work environment. According to Angermeier et al. (2009, p. 128), "These findings suggest that participative management initiatives have a significant impact on the commitment and productivity of individual employees."

Hawthorne effect

The "Hawthorne effect" is a principle of management that holds that over time, individuals tend to improve their performance when they are observed (Morgan 2009). In this regared, Maccoby (1999, p. 49) advises that, "Managers are taught that this effect is caused by paying attention to workers and listening to their complaints. The theory is that when managers care about workers, attitudes improve and output increases." According to Morgan (2009, p. 162), "Some have questioned the 'Hawthorne effect'; [however], being under observation from colleagues could trigger reflection and lead to some benefits." These observations suggest that the "Hawthorne effect" could be used to its best effect by employing it as an augment to feedback from first-line managers and continuing professional educational and development opportunities (Morgan 2009). This assertion is congruent with the observation by Maccoby (1999, p. 51) that, "Workers are motivated not only by money, but also by a supportive environment. First-line supervisors should be trained to be human relations experts."

Flextime method

Flexible time or "flextime" is currently the most popular flexible work arrangement in the world (Avery & Zabel 2001). An advantage of providing flextime alternatives for employees is that it provides an increase in the amount of family and leisure available to workers. According to Avery and Zabel (2001, p. 39), "[Flextime] gives individuals the opportunity to take care of errands, appointments, and other personal tasks. Employees who are continuing their education through courses and other opportunities can find flextime helpful." In addition, flextime is especially valued by parents with children who are attending school (Avery & Zabel 2001). Interestingly, men appear to prefer flextime for a number of reasons, including providing some personal control over schedules and more time with family without a concomitant reduction in earnings (Avery & Zabel 2001). Moreover, Avery and Zabel (2001, p. 39) emphasize that, "Flextime can also be a morale booster to employees. It gives employees autonomy in selecting their own work schedules and makes employees responsible for getting work done within their own work schedules. Flextime emphasizes efficiency and the completion of projects."

Employee suggestion system

Everyone wants to have their voice heard, and an employee suggestion system provides this opportunity. In this regard, Nelson (2002, p. 12) points out that, "Employees need to know that their suggestions are taken seriously and that they can make a big difference. By carefully reviewing employee suggestions, and quickly implementing those that have merit, management sends a message that employees are valued." Despite the potential cost savings, innovation and improved morale that an employee suggestion program can provide, some companies are reluctant to implement employee suggestion programs because of concerns that the costs associated with the program will outweigh the potential benefits (Nelson 2002). According to Mishra (1999, p. 587), though, "As concern about ways to increase employee participation has grown, many organizations, both service and manufacturing, have turned to an employee suggestion program (ESP) as a key part of their management approach."

Although policies and procedures vary, employee suggestion programs typically solicit ideas and innovations from individual workers or groups of employees (Mishra 1999). With respect to the goal of such programs, Mishra (1999, p. 588) advises that, "It is hoped that employee suggestions will yield cost savings, productivity gains, and higher overall profits, while rewarding participants with monetary compensation, recognition, and the satisfaction of seeing their ideas adopted."

Analysis and Discussion

The foregoing descriptions of the various tools and techniques that are available to the two struggling team leaders at Sapphire makes it clear that there are resources available that can help these leaders, and some are more cost effective than others. For instance, the Hawthorne effect is essentially free, but the Skinner-based incentives that are part of an effective employee suggestion program are not and can even range into the millions of dollars for larger corporations or government organizations, including the military. Between these two extremes exists a continuum of motivational and management improvement regimens that can be used to help these two team leaders become more effective in their jobs. Indeed, it is entirely possible, and even likely, that many of the communication and leadership problems that have been characterized these two low-performing teams relates to inexperience or a lack of training, or both, on the part of the two leaders. Perhaps they were thrust into their current leadership positions and have lingered there while their team members contemplate greener pastures elsewhere. In these cases, Belbin would recommend an analysis of the preferred roles of the team members to identify optimal organizational structures. In these two cases, a superior alternative might be the reassignment of the current team leaders to an alternative position within the team and new leaders assigned.

Certainly, it is always possible to improve the two team leaders' performance by "throwing money at the problem" and sending them both to an unending series of motivational seminars, night classes in management theory and workshops for the leadership impaired, or even the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development for that matter. Over time, these steps will likely have a cumulative effect on improving the two leaders' performance. Many organizations, though, do not enjoy these levels of resources for addressing team leadership issues of this nature, and a more pragmatic approach may be required. In this regard, Skinner would recommend a negative reinforcement of some sort for both teams until they resolved their communication and performance issues.

Irrespective of the leadership style or motivational approach that is used to help improve performance by the struggling team leaders at Sapphire, there are some known factors that have been shown to consistently influence team leadership effectiveness including the following:

1. Work values between leaders and followers has been found to mediate between leadership and leadership effectiveness;

2. There is evidence that high occupational self-efficacy on the followers' side positively influences the interrelation between leadership and leadership effectiveness; and,

3. Leadership positively affects followers' emotional state (Wolfram & Mohr 2009).

Taken together, the problems that are being experienced by the two struggling team leaders at Sapphire are not unique, but they are important and they detract from the achievement of the company's organizational goals.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Controlling and the Continuity and Success of the Recommended Tools. The two team leaders who are experiencing problems in communicating with their teams fall within the scope of Cornell's talent management matrix as being, "Steady and dependable performers, but capable of more. May not understand changes in the organization." The recommended action for this type of individual is to "Challenge, allow opportunities for growth and new experiences." Clearly, these team leaders are in need of additional training and educational offerings to improve their interpersonal communications skills and to reduce the rates of absenteeism and motivate their team members. For this purpose, the continuing educational offerings from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development would be most appropriate. In addition, a root cause analysis should be performed for the two troubled teams to ensure that there are not other factors involved in their poor performances and high levels of absenteeism. In addition, the Hawthorne Effect will likely incentivise team members to improve their performance and cooperation. Likewise, team leaders can identify the preferred team roles of their members by using Belbin's framework, and team members should be educated concerning this approach to ensure their buy-in as much as possible.

In some cases, the problems being experienced by team members may be related to work-home issues such as daycare needs or care for an elderly relative. In these cases, empowering the team leaders to provide flex-time alternatives could alleviate some of the pressures on these members and allow the team leaders to gain some credibility and an improved working rapport. In any event, providing an employee suggestion program that allows all team members a voice in the workings of their department makes good business sense. The company should not try to cut corners on this program, but rather should ensure that substantial…[continue]

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