The research paved the way for survey feedback as an approach to organizational improvement. The process begins with questionnaires aimed at people issues. The results are tabulated, then shared with managers. The data might show, for example, that information within a unit “ows well but that decisions are made in the wrong place and employees don’t feel that management listens. Members of the work unit, perhaps with the help of a consultant, discuss the results and explore how to improve effectiveness. A variant on the survey feedback model, increasingly standard in organizations, is 360-degree feedback, in which managers get survey feedback about how they are seen by subordinates, peers, and superiors.
Evolution of OD T-groups and survey research spawned the !eld of organizational development (OD) in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, OD has continued to evolve as a discipline (Burke, 2006;
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Gallos, 2006; Mirvis, 1988, 2006). In 1965, few managers had heard of OD; 30 years later, few had not. Most major organizations (particularly in the United States) have experi- mented with OD: General Motors, the U.S. Postal Service, IBM, the Internal Revenue Service, Texas Instruments, Exxon, and the U.S. Navy have all developed their own versions.
Surveying the !eld in 2006, Mirvis saw signi!cant innovation and ferment emanating from both academic visionaries and passionate “disciples” (Mirvis, 2006, p. 87). He also saw “exciting possibilities in the spread of OD to emerging markets and countries; its broader applications to peace making, social justice, and community building, and its deeper penetration into the mission of organizations” (p. 88). Returning to the same question in 2014, Mirvis found a similar answer: “[S]omething more—concepts extending beyond conventional behavioral science—has led to revolutionary advances in the practice of change in the past two decades” (Mirvis, 2014, p. 371). Among those advances, he mentions appreciative inquiry and ideas from the arts, spirituality, and chaos-and-complexity science.
CONCLUSION When individuals !nd satisfaction and meaning in work, organizations pro!t from the effective use of their talent and energy. But when satisfaction and meaning are lacking, individuals withdraw, resist, or rebel. In the end, everyone loses. Progressive organizations implement a variety of “high-involvement” strategies for improving human resource management. Some approaches strengthen the bond between individual and organization by paying well, offering job security, promoting from within, training the workforce, and sharing the fruits of organizational success. Others empower workers and give work more signi!cance through participation, job enrichment, teaming, egalitarianism, and diversity. No single method is likely to be effective by itself. Success typically requires a comprehensive strategy undergirded by a long-term human resource management philosophy. Ideas and practices from organization development often play a signi!cant role in supporting the evolution of more comprehensive and effective human resource practices.
NOTE 1. Likert pronounced his last name Lick-ert.
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8 c h a p t e r
Interpersonal and Group Dynamics
Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
Anne Barreta was excited but scared when she became the !rst woman and the !rst Hispanic American ever promoted to district marketing manager at the Hillcrest Corporation. She knew she could do the job, but she expected to be under a microscope. Her boss, Steve Carter, was very supportive. Others were less enthusiastic—like the coworker who smiled as he patted her on the shoulder and said, “Congratulations! I just wish I was an af!rmative action candidate.”
Anne was responsible for one of two districts in the same city. Her counterpart in the other district, Harry Reynolds, was 25 years older and had been with Hillcrest 20 years longer. Some said that the term “good old boy” could have been invented to describe Harry. Usually genial, he had a temper that “ared quickly when someone got in his way. Anne tried to maintain a positive and professional relationship but often found Harry to be condescending and arrogant.
Things came to a head one afternoon as Anne, Harry, and their immediate subordinates were discussing marketing plans. Anne and Harry were disagreeing politely. Mark, one of Anne’s subordinates, tried to support her views, but Harry kept cutting him off. Anne saw Mark’s frustration building, but she was still surprised when he angrily told Harry, “If you’d listen to anyone besides yourself and think a little before you open your mouth, we’d make a lot more progress.” With barely controlled fury, Harry declared that “this meeting is adjourned” and stormed out.
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A day later, Harry phoned to demand that Anne !re Mark. Anne tried to reason with him, but Harry was adamant. Worried about the fallout, Anne talked to Steve, their mutual boss. He agreed that !ring Mark was too drastic but suggested a reprimand. Anne agreed and informed Harry. He again became angry and shouted, “If you want to get along in this company, you’d better !re that guy!” Anne calmly replied that Mark reported to her. Harry’s !nal words were, “You’ll regret this!”
Three months later, Steve called Anne to a private meeting. “I just learned,” he said, “that someone’s been spreading a rumor that I promoted you because you and I are having an affair.” Anne was stunned by a jumble of feelings—confusion, rage, surprise, shame. She groped for words, but none came.
“It’s crazy, I know,” Steve continued. “But the company hired a private detective to check it out. Of course, they didn’t !nd anything. So they’re dropping it. But some of the damage is already done. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure who’s behind it.”
“Harry?” Anne asked. “Who else?”
Managers spend most of their time relating to other people—in conversations andmeetings, in groups and committees, over coffee or lunch, on the phone, or on the net (Kanter, 1989b; Kotter, 1982; Mintzberg, 1973; Watson, 2000). The quality of their relationships !gures prominently in how satis!ed and how effective they are at work. But people bring patterns of behavior to the workplace that have roots in early life. These patterns do not change quickly or easily on the job. Thompson (1967) and others have argued that the socializing effects of family and society shape people to mesh with the work- place. Schools, for example, teach students to be punctual, complete assign- ments on time, and follow rules. But schools are not always fully successful, and future employees are shaped initially by family—a decentralized cottage industry that seldomproduces rawmaterials exactly to corporate speci!cations.
People can become imperfect cogs in the bureaucratic machinery. They form relation- ships to !t individual styles and preferences, often ignoring what the organization requires. They may work but never only on their of!cial assignments. They also express personal and social needs that often diverge from formal rules and requirements. A project falters, for example, because no one likes the manager’s style. A committee bogs down because of
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interpersonal tensions that everyone notices but no one mentions. A school principal spends most days dealing with a handful of abrasive and vocal teachers who generate far more than their share of discipline problems and parent complaints. Protracted warfare arises because of personal friction between two department heads.
This chapter begins by looking at basic sources of effective (or ineffective) interpersonal relations at work. We examine why individuals are often blind to self-defeating personal actions. We describe theories of interpersonal competence and emotional intelligence, explaining how they in”uence of!ce relationships. We explore different ways of under- standing individual style preferences. Finally, we discuss key human-resource issues in the functioning of groups and teams: informal roles, norms, con”ict, and leadership.
Greatest Hits from Organization Studies Hit Number 6: M. S. Granovetter, “Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Social Embeddedness.” American Journal of Sociology, 1985, 91(3), 481–510
The central question in Granovetter’s in”uential article is a very broad one: “How behavior and institutions are affected by social relations.” Much of his approach is captured in a quip from James Duesenberry that “economics is all about how people make choices; sociology is all about how they don’t have any choices to make” (1960, p. 233). Classical economic perspectives, Granovetter argues, assume that economic actors are atomized individuals whose decisions are little affected by their relationships with others. “In classical and neoclassical economics, therefore, the fact that actors may have social relations with one another has been treated, if at all, as a frictional drag that impedes competitive markets” (Granovetter, 1985, p. 484). Conversely, Granovetter maintains that sociological models are often “oversocialized” because they depict “processes in which actors acquire customs, habits, or norms that are followed mechanically and automatically, irrespective of their bearing on rational choice” (p. 485). The truth, in Granovetter’s view, lies between these two extremes: “Actors do not behave or decide as atoms outside a social context, nor do they adhere slavishly to a script written for them by the particular intersection of social categories that they happen to occupy. Their attempts at purposive action are instead embedded in concrete, ongoing systems of social relations” (p. 487). Granovetter’s argument may sound familiar, since it aligns with a central theme in our book: Actors make choices, but their choices are inevitably shaped by social context.