Saturday, February 14, 2009

Organizational Problems in the Workplace

I work for the Governors Office of Criminal Justice Planning. This office is a State Government Office, closely connected with the political dealings from the Governors Office. This Office processes grant funding for programs throughout the state of California. Two organizational problems that exist in my workplace are the constant downsizing without actually downsizing and decisions that are made by the Executive Office without consulting or at least informing the Specialist that works on the grants. A supervisor can have a staff of approximately 10 people. If that supervisor is required to perform a special assignment from the Governors Office, then those people are required to move into another branch. They are spread thin enough that it looks as though a branch has actually disappeared when in actuality the same number of people still work in this office. When the supervisor returns, those people are assigned back into the original branch with that supervisor, thus creating a “new” branch without really creating a new branch. The decisions being made by the Executive office can be literally promises made to a Sheriff or the head of an organization without taking into consideration the problem that may exist fulfilling the promise. The Governors Office and the political party in office influence these problems at the time of the decisions. The thinking used is more persuasive.

The Governor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning is comprised of majority white males. The Executive staff is comprised of one white female and three white males. These staff members are also attorneys. The problem created with the Executive Office being comprised of all Exempt employee’s with a similar background is that they have no understanding of real world timelines and what it actually takes to process the paperwork or fund the grants. There thinking is more of a straight line without going outside the box. They give some grantee’s more advantage, depending on their political connection, than others do. This creates a problem among the grantee’s that allowed certain privileges that others are not i.e. turning in late paperwork, not turning in financial statements, and allowing them to keep state purchased furnishings and equipment. The ability to make these command decisions should be thought out more clearly and the specialist informed of what is being done.

The creative thinking that this department does is to help eliminate scrutiny for decisions that are made or for changes that are handled in the best interest of the Governor without regard for the actually grantee being effected. This department creatively arranged the branches to look scaled down when in actuality the move was all on paper. Therefore, our department must look as though we faced as severe of cuts as did the other departments.

This department is closely looked at due to the fact our office generates millions of dollars of grants to local law enforcement organizations, victims of violent crimes organizations, and school districts throughout the State of California.

The interesting thing about the Governors Office of Criminal Justice Planning is that the Executive Office is comprised of the Political Party that is in office at the Governors Office. For example, when there is a Republican Governor then the Executive Office for this department is also a Republican to include all the excluded staff that work for them. When there is a Democratic Governor then the same holds true, the Executive Office in this Department is comprised of Democrats. The impact this has on the way business is done in this department can swing every four years. When the Sheriff of a county is Republican and the Governor is Republican then that sheriff has more say in the way, the money is going to be allocated for their counties local law enforcement programs. The culture rapidly changes upon new elections and the impact is felt throughout the state of California.

The forces of influence come from white males who are highly educated. All decisions being made are being made with a similar thought pattern. More women in the executive Office or more cultural diversity in the Executive Office could make a tremendous difference in how decisions are made. For example, a woman might think more clearly on why woman’s shelters are an important grant to fund, when a male may not see the need for them and choose to eliminate them causing controversy.

Professional employees have to be able to accept the differences in others and be able to complete assignments and projects with a group of people of different cultures and backgrounds. The problem of not being able to accept others opinions can be eliminated, or at least reduced with using critical thinking. When working on a project or assignment there is a common goal to that each team member should be reaching for i.e. completion of the project on time and at or under cost. Project leaders or manager does can get themselves into trouble if they are quick to judge or slow to part with ironclad judgments. Being open-minded requires that project leaders or manager’s set aside past preconceived notions or judgments and listen carefully to each person’s idea or opinion. To be effective, project leaders and managers should use a highly reflective approach to management which is called “action inquiry,” which requires a willingness to sacrifice their illusions about themselves and others and situations as they receive new information.

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Operating Definition of Organizational Behavior

Classical organization theory, evolved during the first half of this century, did not account for the needs of diverse workforce. It represented the merger of scientific management, bureaucratic theory, and administrative theory. This theory had four basic principles: find the best way to perform each task, carefully match each worker to each task, closely supervise workers, and use reward and punishment as motivators. Working through these principles, the task of management was planning and control. While this management theory proved successful in simple industrialized companies at the turn of the century, it had not played well in modern companies. The philosophy of production first, people second, left a legacy of declining production and quality, dissatisfaction with work, loss of pride in workmanship, and a near complete loss of organizational pride.

According to the textbook, organizational structure is described as a mechanism through which effort is integrated through the coordination and control of activities, symbolic management, and the management of organizational culture. Such mechanism has recently been described as a mechanism that directs behavior through shared values, norms, and goals. However, since each mechanism is unique in its impact on individual behavior, the effects of each should be analyzed separately and then synthesized for a deeper understanding of the functional roles of structural and cultural forces in the workplace. If an organization is to direct behavior towards the accomplishment of a strategic mission, and present itself to stakeholders as a unified form, mechanisms must be created for reducing this variability among individuals and focusing employee efforts on the accomplishment of strategic goals. According to Maslow, “determining that low-level needs must be satisfied before higher-level needs can be met.” A relationship between organizational culture and organizational structure is needed because there will be a lack of structure and an inability to systematize the needs of everyone in the workplace. In developing such a model, organizations are information-processing entities that develop different mechanisms to reduce uncertainty in achieving effectiveness. Effectiveness is obtained when employees engage in behaviors in a consistent manner to achieve strategic goals of the firm. Uncertainty exists when there is a gap between the amount of information possessed and what is required to perform a task. Therefore, without structure or accountability, it is difficult to achieve strategic goals.

Organizational culture is often defined in terms of shared experiences -- patterns of beliefs, rituals, symbols, and myths that evolve over time. These patterns serve to reduce human variability and control, and shape employee behavior in organizations. The development of organizational culture is a natural process, which occurs regardless of the intent of executive leadership, although management may influence it. While organizations may develop a relatively homogeneous culture, unique and divergent sub-cultures may evolve for separate departments or sub-groups within the organization.

The information gathered through the study of OB helps managers identify problems and determine how to correct them. The gathered information also helps managers develop their interpersonal or people skills to be effective in their jobs. OB can help managers learn ways to stimulate innovation and offers them guidance in creating an ethically healthy work climate. Although different organizations may perform the same functions or have the same goals, each organization still remains unique in its culture, social structure and work force. A diverse group of people within the organization is one of the most important factors in shaping and changing the overall behavior within the organization.

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