Management Theories as the Supervisor Thesis

Pages: 15 (4318 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business

Management Theories

As the supervisor of a team of six employees, my responsibility was to ensure the highest levels of customer service were delivered to each customer, regardless of their request for service over the telephone, Internet or via e-mail. My team of six customer service representatives had varying degrees of ability and empathy, in addition to perspectives of their jobs. For a few they saw the ability to drive up the metrics of performance as a means to further their careers in the company. Their approach to mastery and the strength of the causality of performance, modeled by performance awards and recognition for exceptional performance, made these employees the easiest to manage. The more troublesome employees looked at the job as a necessary evil, one step above working in a fast food restaurant. Their metrics of performance were quite poor, and the approach they had modeled, as evidenced by observation and discussed, was more aligned with the contented model defense.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Thesis on Management Theories as the Supervisor of a Assignment

Sarcastically greeting any requests for improvement, this latter group did the minimum to get by and promptly left at the stroke of the hour when their shifts were done. Incentives, both financial and emotional in terms of recognition, were continually promoted and discussed in staff meetings. The higher-achieving group of employees tackled additional work, over and above what they were presently doing, to win additional awards. This only distanced the other, lower-performing employees more. From the perspective of the lessons learned in this course and from previous experience, I realized that using generative reasoning, causal modeling and assertive inquiry together could help me understand why these lower-performing customer service representatives did not respond to incentives. Counseling these workers one-on-one to see if I could assist them to find more fulfilling work in the company was seen as an attempt on my part of get them out of my department. Clearly there was little if any trust between each of them and me. Despite this I continually worked to create a more integrative environment, one that stressed openness and the opportunity I wanted to give them to pursue what their passions were. Instead, I was continually rebuffed and treated as if I was not to be trusted, and that my efforts were all self-serving to get them out of my department.

As our company's business became slower and sales were beginning to decline, all supervisors including myself were called into budget and expense meetings. Starting off as discussions as to how we could control costs and leading to discussions of a potential for regional office closings and reduction in force (RIF)s or lay-offs, the meetings became increasingly tense and other supervisors confided that they did not like the direction they were going, and frankly, neither did I. From the unique vantage point of being in these meetings and then through continual observation of sales activity in telemarketing, our own departments' drop-off on service calls, and the lack of new business contracts announced on the company's Intranet, it became clear that sales were indeed slowing down significantly. The hypothesis I had of a major RIF or lay-off coming was turning out to be correct. The next budget meeting all supervisors were asked to define the top three employees they must retain and rank those that should be let go. My boss was in all meetings and told me to just use the metrics of performance we had standardized to manage performance. She specifically said this would also be the most equitable as it would be based purely on performance. Well aware of the challenges I had faced with the low performers in the team I supervised and their attitudes, she concluded our conversation with comments stating these people had their chance to improve and didn't take it, so they would need to be let go given the budget cuts. It was the most painful day of my life as a supervisor, and knew the low-performing people I had tried so hard to help improve or find other positions that better suited their interests would take it very personally. There could be no capitulation, my boss said, and there is no advance warning either as it would just create terrible morale with everyone else in the group. Stoically I went back to my cubicle and buried my head in work for the afternoon. Within two weeks the official word came from our CEO and our Director of Human Resources that the RIF would be on the following Monday and each supervisor would escort the employees being let go to Human Resources for their exit interview. I was to attend each interview and present their results, which I did. The exit interviews were quite stressful yet Human Resources did the majority of the talking and offered assistance. When appropriate, I offered to assist them in finding work as well, yet none of those employees let go ever did get in touch with me.

Diagnosis of What Failed

In managing a team of customer service representatives that were tasked with responding to customer complaints over the Internet via the company's website, over the telephone or over e-mail, the challenge of keeping employees motivated despite the nature of the work continually required integrative strategies to support and anticipate their needs. Taking purely a conventional stance to managing this team would have created a consistent level of mediocrity, not allowing the highest performers the freedom to define how the position fit their specific skills and inherent abilities.

The paradox of managing these teams however was the need for specifically focusing on how to bring more ownership to their roles by redefining the responsibilities on the one hand, yet still infusing enough accountability through measures of performance on the other (Alexander, 337). Further, the attempts within Human Resources to infuse a high level of empowerment were failing due to options being made available to these employees not being relevant to them. As empirically derived research indicates, for empowerment to be effective it must concentrate on enriching mastery and identity aspects of a person's view of themselves (Sharma, Kaur, 7, 8).

This paradox of infusing ownership in conjunction with the need for creating accountability and transparency with regard to performance was crucial for the department to attain its objectives. Clearly the use of existing models was not effective in infusing any ownership in the positions. Further, the lack of logical reasoning in terms of building trust by giving lower-performing employees the opportunity to gain greater mastery (LaBrosse, 101-105) and opportunity to have a high degree of individuality in their approach to doing their jobs as well was not present either.

Due to all these factors and low-performing employee's reliance on using the contended model defense (Olson, et.al.) to justify their lack of ownership and buy-in to the measures of performance, the potential of nurturing trust never occurred. As this entire scenario illustrated, the foundation of any successful empowerment program must be focused first on trust (Bartram, Casimir, 4, 6). In retrospect this was one of the most critical shortcomings of our company's strategy to deal with lower-performing telemarketing representative. We often concentrated first on metrics and less on trying to understand their specific perspective and thereby create trust in the process.

Tactical, short-term and incentive-based in approach, management strategies initiated both within my department and from Human Resources concentrated first on incentives, second on trust and therefore had no consistency. As has been shown in empirical research in the areas of management theories, the creation of consistency and predictability in management strategies is essential for lasting change in performance to take place (Brownlie, Hewer, Wagner, Svensson, 461, 462). Further, the lack of flexibility on the part of low-performing employees and their adherence to the Contended Defense Model (Olson, et.al.) made change all the more difficult.

Yet even more fundamental that these challenges was the need for gaining their trust and leading them to make the most of their own unique strengths, regardless of their current position in the company. At the crux of what failed is the lack of communication and trust based on a lack of integration beginning at the Frame Choice level, as defined in the context of the concepts and insights gained from this course. The lack of congruency and shared values led to a completely different perspective on the implicit value of the position they were working within, and further led to a complete failure to brainstorm potential options to overcome the conditions they felt were present being a customer service representative. Further still was the lack of identifying unacceptable solutions that would serve as the basis for finding entirely new solutions. Instead what occurred was on their part a contented model defense emerged. The inability on my part to navigate their perceptions to an integrative option was evident in how difficult it was to even get these employees to discuss what their interests and passions were and how they could potentially be modeled into a position in the company.

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