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John is the head of our sales team. We are team of 45 people who work from Singapore. The CEO and senior managers are currently based in United States. Therefore our only point of contact with the organizational behaviour is John. John has been associated with the firm since over a decade and hence he was sent to Singapore to lead a team here. Unfortunately, his leadership style and abilities do not resonate well with the employees working here.
Since the last few months, our entire team has been performing exceedingly well but we feel there is a serious lack of appreciation. On the other hand, if any of the employee is unable to close a deal, then John invites the employee in his cabin and asks them to improve upon their performance. There are hardly any team meetings. Even when we celebrate birthday of an employee, John comes out of his cabin for 5 minutes and immediately goes back in.
As employees of the firm, we are given no freedom regarding the kind of clients we can target. We are given targets and we are expected to fulfil the same. In the meanwhile, if there is any issue that we face from the corporate office in USA, John puts no effort in addressing it. Sometimes we feel that he has been appointed as a manager here but has been given no real power over the team.
One Thursday evening, after reaching home, we received an E-mail from John stating that our incentive policy has been revised and we would no longer be receiving the quality incentive that we get upon completion of target. The news came as a terrible surprise to all of us. The next day, we expected John would conduct a meeting and explain this stance but he did not. This lack of communication is bothering every employee and this has also reduced our overall productivity.
Such a leadership style is bringing in high levels of demotivation among employees. The attrition rate of the organization is at its peak. Most of the times, I have noticed people avoid addressing their issues to John because they are sure that no good can come out of it. Employees consider it a temporary job and no real efforts are put behind retaining employees. The change in the incentive policy has come as a shock and the decision made has truly demotivated all employees.
The major problem defined in the case is that of a sudden change in the incentive policy and the inefficacy of the leader to communicate the change in an efficient manner. Owing to this, the employees are largely demotivated and there have been several accounts where the employees have felt a lack of communication with the leader. The pressure from the head office on the leader could be a strong reason for John to bring about the change in this policy. However, the lack of communication is the issue that John must address at the earliest.
Leadership is one of the most important aspect of any business. Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theorysuggests that leaders must adapt their style to suit the development style of the follower (McCleskey, 2014). In this case, John has shown resistance to change his leadership style. John has adopted an Autocratic leadership styleby simply imposing the new incentive policy on all the employees without discussing it with employees. This style suggests that leaders make decisions without any kind of consultation (Iqbal, Anwar & Haider, 2015). This leadership style works well when there is no need for input on decision or when motivation of employees would not be impacted if they are not a part of the decision making process. This is simply not the case here. Given the lower level of demotivation and high rates of attrition, John must adopt a more participative leadership style.This participative or democratic leadership style is appreciated by people.
Secondly, the most important problem that is being faced by employees is not the bad news that is communicated to them. Rather their bigger concern is how the bad news is communicated. An incentive policy has a solid impact on motivation of an employee. Even if the decision has come from the head office in the United States of America, it is still important that John conveys it in a better manner. The issue of communication or rather the lack of it is being felt by employees. Efforts of employees go unappreciated only because of this lack of communication.
Leadership and communication go hand in hand. For effective leadership, it is important the leader is able to effectively communicate with his team members (Men, 2014). John should have conducted a meeting with all the team members, informed them about the changes in the incentive policy, addressed their grievances and if the need be share the same feedback with the head office as well. Even if it would not bring about a change in the policy, this practice of effective communication would create trust and empathy between John and his team members.
For future, it is recommended that there must be increased levels of transparency within the organization. John could even adopt an open door policy. This policy suggests that leaders of the organization must keep their doors open in order to signal that they are available for open communication to all the employees (Hodges, 2017). Moreover, such changes must not be simply imposed on employees or at the least they must be discussed in a proficient manner.
Rewards and recognition are one of the most important factors involved in motivating employees (Malik, Butt & Choi, 2015). John must ensure that employees who perform well are recognized and appreciated for their efforts towards achieving organizational goals. High attrition is a serious problem in the organization and must always be addressed at the earliest. Communication between the leader and the team members seem like the biggest reason behind demotivated employees and high levels of attrition. Given the nature of work, John could adopt a more participative leadership approach and work towards effective employee engagement. Engaging with employees on a regular basis will help the team connect better and also have a significantly positive impact on organizational culture.
1. Hodges, D. Z. (2018). Workplace culture is a hot topic. Dean and Provost, 20(2), 1-3.
2. Iqbal, N., Anwar, S., & Haider, N. (2015). Effect of leadership style onemployee benefitsperformance. Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, 5(5), 1-6.
3. Malik, M. A. R., Butt, A. N., & Choi, J. N. (2015). Rewards and employee creative performance: Moderating effects of creative self?efficacy, reward importance, and locus of control. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36(1), 59-74.
4. McCleskey, J. A. (2014). Situational, transformational, and transactional leadership and leadership development. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 5(4), 117.
5. Men, L. R. (2014). Why leadership matters to internal communication: Linking transformational leadership, symmetrical communication, and employee outcomes. Journal of Public Relations Research, 26(3), 256-279.