People management is one of the pillars of good-performing, thriving companies and businesses in the world. This is mainly defined in the manner in which managers perform their duties through exemplary coordination, delegation of duties and good communication. Managers are considered as the binding blocks of the workforce. Therefore, dysfunction of managers poses a direct impact to the overall output of the business and may deeply affect its future. As a result, researchers and scholars have described the biggest task of managers to be the management of people. Managers are not just expected to focus on profit making decisions but aim at motivating, encouraging and inspiring every employee. Their target is to bringing out the best out of everybody. Bruce affirms that lack motivation is the beginning of mediocrity and the outright downfall of any organization (Bruce 2006, p. 101). This case study on People and organization exposes some of the issues which affect the performance of managers and consequently the overall performance of a business or company. Aleksei Ustinov, human resources (HR) manager for RosAmTrust, a Moscow-based Soviet-American joint venture, is an example of a competent manager who meets every manner of challenge at his place of work, making it hard for him to achieve his dream as HR manager. These problems include but not limited to cultural differences, poor communication and organizational structure.
It is worth noting that Ustinov is the kind of person that every general manager would wish to work with and every company would be more than willing to pay any amount to have him on board. He has a visionary mind that focuses beyond the success of a business. It encompasses the well being of all employees through motivation and encouragement. He believes in structural organization, respect and recognition of ones skills together with accountability among employees of whichever caliber. However, at RosAmTrust, he encounters more than enough problems that push him to the extreme which threaten his conscience. He comes face to face with personality problems, organizational problems and cultural differences which turn out to be an obstacle in the course of performing his duties as the HR manager in the company.
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Like any person, Ustinov has his personality which turns out to be outstanding in defining his identity and overall view on issues of management as a human resource manager. However, this personality completely differs with a number of managers at RosAmTrust including the general manager, George Nixon who seem not appreciate his focused performance mindset that aims at transforming the company into a regional performer. The very initial occurrence which demonstrates personality difference is the manner in which George responded to the 22 page memo that Aleksei handed him (Puffer 1996, p. 56). Having dedicated his time to serve the company, Aleksei prepared the detailed document as an initial stage in improving the performance of the company. On the contrary, George does not find any sense in the memo and considers the HR manager as a business student who is at the wrong place. Aleksei does not understand why the general manager had to react is such away, turning out to be a source of discouragement towards his performance.
What hurts and conflicts the two personalities is the fact that Aleksei did not act on his own, but was requested to do the summary by the general manager who discredits his work prematurely. This clearly shows that the two read from different scripts and have conflicting view over the real meaning of excellence at RosAmTrust. Aleksei had not only described the current developments in his department, but had gone a head to share his vision with the general manager. It was a shock to learn that not even ten percent of the memo had been read. Based on the detailed research done by Aleksei in developing the memo which included consultation of his seminar notes in the U.S and reputable financial books, one would highly rate and consider it for implementation. As a result, he has to work with a general manager who has an absolute perception regarding the growth of the company.
Personality problem is also seen in the manner in which Aleksei handles Konstantin Bobrov, the production manager of the company. Having known him as a stubborn person, Aleksei did not having an argument with him. It was a fruitful idea in making him understand that he did not have to attend a meeting to discuss technology transfer together with representatives from America. Konstantin Bobrov is angry with the suppliers during the meeting in which Aleksei is interpreting for the Americans. He insults them but Aleksei tries to calm the degree of the insult through a “soft” translation of Bobrov’s statements.
As the Human resource manager, Aleksei is exposed to many hiring procedures and tangible problems which were affecting the company. His meeting with Ron Johnson, the marketing manager was to usher in an organizational problem which involved the general manager again. It is clear that Natasha was competent enough to be hired as an assistant in the marketing department. However, Aleksei finds himself in a fix of making a decision to approve the offer of having Natasha hired. Although he is compelled to do so, he believes that it is against the company’s policy. He is convinced by Ron that the company policy should be flexible. Ron further notes that the company had missed an opportunity to hire a very competent person with superb communication and typing skills because of the unavailability of the general manager to interview her. George, the general manager is too busy to hire employees in the company and he is therefore forced to rubber stamp some of the decisions (Puffer 1996). As a human resource manager he is to work with the general manger who does delegate some of his responsibilities like hiring of employees in order to maximize efficiency. The company fails to move in the event the general manager is not available.
Another organizational problem is poor communication within RosAmTrust. Aleksei learns from Grechko during a lunch that there has been an accident in which a production worker, Nikita Suslov had lost his finger three days earlier. Ustinov wondered how such crucial information had not reached him. Consequently, he faces the problem of lack of training to hired workers being the cause of the accident. The company has not planned for any training, a scenario which Aleksei finds hard to cope with. He further turns down the request of Bobrov to have three workers trained in the United States since the training had been considered during the initial planning. It emerges that Bobrov is bitter about Aleksei’s decision not to approve the training and looks at the HR manager as a school boy who has to work for the next twenty years in order for them to engage in any serious matter (Puffer 1996, p. 60).
The difference in culture between Russia and the U.S seems to be the biggest problem which Aleksei has to face in serving RosAmTrust as the Human Resource Manager. There is a sharp contrast in the manner in which the two operate. The making of decisions, adherence to company policies and inter-departmental communications are some of the issues to be overcome. He has to deal with these problems which pose a wider array of challenges.
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Every company has problems. Although these problems may be manifested differently they have similar impact to companies and even business organizations (Sharpe and Johnson 2007). The plain truth is that RosAmTrust has its own share of these problems which Ustinov has to face on almost everyday basis to realize his dream. Can Aleksei really overcome these challenges? Can he use these challenges in transforming the future of the company? It is obvious that he has to find a way of coping with these problems as soon as possible lest he does not perform. One of the ways of dealing with issues of personal development is the understanding the fact that different minds have similar problems. Although Russia and the United States have different viewpoints regarding certain issues, they faced similar problems. The main difference however lies in the manner in which these problems were handled by those in authority like managers and other leaders (Witte & Muijen 2000). This difference in mind similarly is the root cause of the conflicts that Aleksei is facing in his capacity as RosAmTrust’s Human Resource manager.
Creativity and innovation is one the ways of coping with organizational problems. As a competent manager it is very important for Aleksei to understand that conflicts always occur in any company (Lauby 2005). It is therefore the sole responsibility of a person to have the psychological preparedness in addressing company problems. The fact that the entire breed of mangers in RosAmTrust has a common mind apart from Aleksei does not make him less of a qualified Human Resource manager. It is also of paramount importance for Aleksei to realize that conflicts can always be managed regardless of the magnitude. The existence of difference in opinion is not a breakdown in communication as perceived by a number of scholars and business people (Sinha & Reddy 1991). Problems appear huge before they are confronted but reduce to manageable pieces immediately the initial steps of managing them are taken.
By managing the company’s conflicts, one is able to improve and develop better relationships which are helpful in the running of the company. When George and other managers come to realize that certain aspect of their management is the root cause of poor company performance, they will see the need to strengthen interpersonal and departmental relationships in order salvage the future of the company (Dewhurst, Guthridge and Mohr 2009). For instance, RosAmTrust has to comprehend the need of having vocational training of leaders in order to maximize efficiency and reduce the number of accidents among workers which is mainly attributed to lack of planned training programs.
Clarification of ideas and thoughts is also vital in dealing with issues facing the company. A suggestion to do some things in a particular manner has to be backed with clarity of thought and conclusive information for better understanding. In other words, Aleksei has to explain his vision to the entire management so that he is not viewed as if he is pursuing personal interests. He must however be warned against procrastination which is a common way of running away from the reality. In fact, an evaded problem has greater impact than a confronted one (Rahim 2010). This means that for him as the Human Resource Manager and being proud of his work, he has to openly point out mistakes and ways that need to be abandoned in order to realize exponential growth in the company. Notably, the future of RosAmTrust wholly depends on the approach adopted in dealing with current management problems.
Cultural Differences and Leadership Style
According to Schein (2004, p. 2), culture defines leadership and there is always need to step outside. From the case study above, RosAmTrust face countless problems surrounding management. What is the epicenter of all these issues? Why does Aleksei, the Human resource manager find it hard to cope with the rest of the management? These problems and conflicts emanate from the existence of cultural differences which have been nurtured by the two countries; Russia and the United States. Aleksei does not understand why certain things are done and others are not done like in the United States where he attended managerial training. The question is, does culture affect leadership style? Is it possible to change a certain leadership style in order to fit particular cultural atmosphere? It is pretty clear that many companies in different countries across the globe experience almost similar problems but the way in which they are handled creates the main difference (Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov 2010, p. 4).
According to Hofstede and friends, culture is a fundamental component of ones identity. It has the power to shape the behavior and personality of a person which later define the inherent leadership style to be adopted. As a matter of fact, relocation of an individual does not describe the real cultural aspects of his life (Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov 2010). The way in which a person reacts significantly depends on the cultural background which generates several differences in the corporate world. It is therefore important to study and understand a person’s culture to promote harmonic coexistence. Culture defines emotions, motivations and even taboos observed by a group of people. It simply explains how people in different parts of the world handle issues in a common societal setting. Culture forms part of ones character which may be totally disjoint with another person’s lifestyle (Barney 1986, p. 656). Therefore, it may be quite hard for a person to instantly land in a concoction culture and survive without any difficulty. Conflict of identity has to be witnessed under whichever circumstances.
While career training is necessary in developing ones skills say in management, an understanding of working culture is equally important. Although it is sometimes hard to strike a functional balance, some people have always considered compromise as an option of sharing of a common purpose. Based on the manner in which Aleksei handles management issues at RosAmTrust, there exists a huge cultural difference between the United States and Russia. The United States representatives also portray this difference with reference to handling of management issues. American leaders believe in systematic and organized way of leadership where everything has to be done defined by an organization. A good example is the weight given to company policies. Americans believe that a company policy does not exist for formality purposes but has to be respected by everybody including managers. As a result, he finds it hard to make final decisions which are considered as General Manager’s role. On the other hand, Russians believe in flexible policies which can be overlooked when there is a crisis.
Good inter-departmental relationships and communication is also another aspect of American leadership style. Americans fully support the existence of functional harmony among companies in order to drive an organization towards a common goal. Aleksei is upset for not having been informed about the accident which occurred in the company three days ago. He does not understand how such information can fail to reach him yet he was in charge of Human Resources. He differs with Bobrov over the training of workers because it was not part of the departmental planning which is already over. Americans also have the welfare of workers at heart. Aleksei does not understand how workers are allowed to start working before receiving basic training on how to perform their duties. He notes this as the main cause of accidents and decides to organize for training of workers.
According to Hofstede (2009, p. 17), culture is part of an individual’s identity in terms of personality, and consequently leadership. It is therefore important to note leadership styles reflect a person culture which may have been nurtured since childhood. Although one may not be able to fully adapt to another culture there is a level of understanding which can be reached between two conflicting sides in order to attain a workable performance atmosphere to operate (Hofstede 2009, p.18). Nevertheless, an understanding of the cultural diversity is essential in handling particular leadership situations. Although compromise has always been seen as a way of attaining performance equilibrium, this can be used as the starting point of propagating unethical business practices in a company. Any manager has to appreciate the existence of cultural diversity in order to professionally face the emerging challenges. The degree of leadership should not be aimed at dragging the growth of a company but should have considerable economic gain.
Organizational Culture, Motivation and Performance Management
The interplay between cultures and performance is considered as the main ingredient of growth in any given company or business organization coupled with employee motivation. Although culture sets the pace for performance management, motivation can be overshadowed at any given moment in life. Organizational culture is a strong and highly recommended management tool (Alvesson 2002, p. 47). Good-people managers do not lay their entirely on profit making and business expansion but on the welfare of employees before the company. Well motivated employees perform maximally compared to those whose tireless efforts are never appreciated by anybody. Every employee has the right to be motivated at all costs. Knowing how to motivate workers is arguably on of the ways of realizing results. It is true that every worker needs motivation regardless of their current performance status. This means that managers have a greater deal of responsibility in motivating, inspiring and encouraging their employees. Having the welfare of workers at heart is however considered as the best approach towards motivating workers. Workers can be motivated in a number of ways which may vary from one company or country to another.
As stated by Bruce and Pepitone (1998, p.1), workers perform best when motivation is present; it is the driving force to do something. This can be done through helping every person to bring out the good in them by appreciating every bit of their efforts. Any kind of work has to be fun. However, many jobs around the world are viewed as punishment by people due to lack of motivation. People can be motivated through good working conditions which promote efficiency. There is no way good results can be realized in the absence of a favorable working environment. This includes tools and machines that are in good working conditions, use of protective requirements to minimize accidents and good remuneration. Others include but not limited to promotions, salary increment, good training and creation of growth opportunities for every employee (Hale & Whitlam 2000, p.2). All these factors narrow down to performance management which is an effective approach towards effective and consistent way of realizing the set goals of a business or company. Performance management further reduces costs and concentrates on relevant activities that are in line with the business vision.
Despite the fact that motivation and performance management drive businesses to reach pinnacle performance, cultural knowledge is equally important. According to Parker (2000, p. 4), the creation of a good cultural working atmosphere is vital in creating cultural diversity awareness. Employees and managers have to beware of the existing cultures which will be useful in promoting the realization of good results. There is a need for everybody to have an understanding of cross-cultural working conditions. Organizational culture can lead to conflicts among managers and workers if it is not well addressed. Although man may not understand how organization culture forces operate in the real world, they have always become victims (Weick 1987, p.120). It is however important to understand that culture does not grow on its own. Managers have the potential to set certain values, standards and even taboos as a way of defining the stability of an organization. Although it is less tangible and visible, it is considered as one of the deepest aspect of a group. It is applied in solving of conflicts and creating an atmosphere that promotes good performance. Nevertheless, organizational cultural differences can easily lead to the crumbling of a business or company.
Finally, it is important to understand that national culture play a vital role in shaping organizational culture. This emanates from the fact that different nations across the globe values different cultures and norms. In this regard therefore, these cultures define how the organizational structures are developed in the long-run. In other words, organizational culture is a reflection of the national culture up to a certain level. For instance, countries such China, Japan and Russia do not emphasize on ethics, this is different in the United States who value work ethics as some of the important factors which contribute to the creation of an excellent work environment. Thus, it can be concluded that the national culture has a considerable impact on the organizational culture.
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