Anthony B. Pacetes Luningning M. Donato Janice M. Deticio Alexxis Ladog Carlitos Communication Arts Class Ateneo de Davao University Semester 1, SY 2011-2012 Prof. Bambi Cabrera CASE: NED WICKER l. Background: The Graubart Electronics Company headed by Wanda Alinsky embarked on a new and ambitious strategy which is to set up a group within the organization whose main goal is to create new business opportunities for the company by gaining new customers for its electronic systems products. The Systems Proposal Department works on performing three major functions: 1.
To handle the review and evaluation process of all bid specifications for new electronic systems. 2. To determine its profitability based on the companies technical and fabrication capabilities. 3. To handle the preparation of the business proposals to gain contracts with potential new customers of the company. The company hired Ned Wicker who is formerly a senior proposal analyst with no managerial experience to set up an elite team of 7 analysts, to establish a system and internal process which is the RFP (Request for Proposal) selection process and run the new department to achieve its goals of gaining new customers for the company. l. Management Issues and Problems Ned’s department underwent a lot of challenges. Initially, he carefully selected the group of individuals that would comprise his department. Each individual was highly qualified systems proposal analysts. He also formulated the procedure for RFP (Request for Proposal) that included full participation of all analysts in the decision-making process. And so, in the first 4 months, his team was doing great. They were able to submit 3 proposals that materialized to major contracts in the company.
However, as Ned tried to evaluate the proceedings of the meetings, he realized that the meetings consumed much time even if the same number of proposals were reviewed every Monday. Ned felt that there was a need to review the current approach in order to improve their efficiency in managing their time during meetings. In order to reduce the time spent during RFP meetings, Ned revised his approach in handling the meetings by conducting a pre-screening evaluation himself on all the submitted proposals prior to the meeting.
This new approach would entail more work to be done on his part during weekends but on the other hand he would come in more prepared during the individual presentations of his analysts. Ned was actually able to shorten the meetings. The group was able to review more proposals and the analysts were able to handle other work in the department. However, Ned found himself talking more and the analysts participating less actively in the meetings.
Although this was unintentional on the part of Ned, the analysts’ became more disengaged during the meetings because Ned became more dominant in the team’s discussion, thereby reducing most of the presentations into a one-on-one meeting where in the flow is only limited to vertical communication and as a result it limited the opportunity to communicate horizontally with the other team members. The analysts seemed to show less cooperation toward their team especially to Ned.
They were less motivated to participate in the discussions and share their opinions. These in turn, translated to low performance of the department causing them to lose one of the contracts. Worse, the analysts seem to lose their trust towards Ned and felt bad about their current status in the department. Some of them might have really felt very low because one analyst decided to leave the company for another job opportunity. In view of the whole situation, the issue which had a major impact on the outcome was: The new approach being employed by Ned Wicker in handling the RFP meetings which unintentionally created a communication barrier. Interpersonal barriers affected his relationship with his subordinates. The new approach particularly on the aspect of conducting pre-screening of proposals led him to be more dominant during the meetings. Because he has already drawn some tentative conclusions on each proposal, he had the tendency to dominate the discussion thereby limiting the involvement of his analysts during the whole process.
This effectively created a closed communication climate during the review and decision making process because Ned’s style limited the exchange of information during the department’s RFP meetings. And as a result, there was no established trust within the team which effectively created a barrier to effective communication. lll. Areas of Consideration 1. Communication Barriers There is a need to look into the various communication barriers that affected Ned’s relationship with his subordinates and vice-versa.
Establishing these barriers are actually essential to unlocking the solution needed to fix his problem. As communication is very important in ensuring that a department or an organization functions the best that it can, we have to consider the problems encountered in it first. In Ned’s case we can consider looking into the occurrence of interpersonal and attitudinal barriers in communication. Although a lot of other barriers may be present these are the main aspects seen to cause the problem. 2. Sub-culture It is also important to examine the individual backgrounds of the eople in Ned’s department. Note that Ned had 7 different people under him. These people were hired by him and all were highly qualified as system’s analyst. By scrutinizing everyone’s background we can establish facts about the individuals to help us classify them into sub-cultures. Knowing the different sub-cultures will allow better management and communication specific to the sub-groups present. Managers will be able to plan approach and strategies that will be suitable to the sub-cultures present in the department.
In Ned’s department, aside from the usual demographics such as age, gender and race, the more important facts to consider are the experience and knowledge of individuals. Knowing these facts will provide Ned with better insight in handling his people. 3. Decision-Making Process We also need to understand how the organization comes up with its decisions. We need to see the flow of information and decisions so that we can scrutinize if the decision-making process encourages cooperation among all the members of the organization and not authoritarian. . Time Management There is a need to look into the over-all time management of Ned’s department. The duration of the meetings should be scrutinized first, but time management in making the proposals and recommendations, Ned’s preparation for the Monday meetings and the general department operations should be examined also. Being able to establish typical schedule of activities and determine the time allotted for each activity will allow the department to make sure that all work are attended to and analysts provide enough time for each task.
This can also help in determining if the meetings are really taking too long or are just done in enough time. Adjustments to work schedules and deadlines can be implemented to better solve problems with time management. lV. Analysis and Evaluation Although, the intention of Ned Wicker in his new approach was good because he wanted to achieve the goal of maximizing the use of their time during RFP meetings, the manner of execution needs to be addressed because it produced undesirable outcomes.
His new approach had a negative impact in several important areas: Employee Motivation, Engagement and Productivity. In the business of managing people, one must be able to effectively satisfy these areas in order to achieve the right results and enhance employee satisfaction and retention at the same time. Based on the facts of the case, due to the inadequate communication structure in the manner in which they conducted the RFP review process, during the initial run of their meetings it was very time consuming because it was not properly organized.
The major contributing factor which hindered Ned from effectively managing the flow of the meeting was his failure to assign specific work assignments for each analyst aside from their main task as presenters for their designated proposals as opposed to his own view that his lack of preparedness during the meetings as the main cause of the delay. As a result, this limited each team member’s involvement in the decision making process when Ned changed his approach and controlled the flow of the meeting.
This had a major impact on the quality of decisions that were made during the individual appraisal of each proposal because not one individual has possession of all the knowledge and the lack of involvement of the team members robbed them of the opportunity to conduct a 360 degree evaluation on each proposal. Considering that Ned’s team is composed of highly qualified engineers, the controlling behavior of Ned Wicker in handling the RFP meetings stunted the team’s ability to be creative and innovative which runs in conflict with his strategy when he created the team which is anchored on diversity.
Ned’s approach created an interpersonal barrier between him and his team because of his fear of losing control. As a consequence of Ned’s controlling behavior, he failed to satisfy their Esteem Needs based on the theory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs since these types of individuals considers recognition and achievement as a very important motivational factor. And this clearly manifested in the general behavior of the members of the team, it became evident that there’s a diminishing level of cooperation, motivation, trust and working relationship towards Ned. pic] lll. Alternatives Having been able to identify the problems and issues being faced by Ned Wicker and his team, the following suggestions and alternatives may be used in order to address their present issues and put the teams performance back on track: 1. To revert back to the old approach in managing the flow of the meeting. Pros: a. The old approach promotes an environment which allows more brainstorming of ideas. b. It encourages the active participation of each member. . It prevents the facilitator (Ned) from controlling the flow of discussion and it gives each member the opportunity to contribute their own ideas and assessments during the course of the presentation of each proposal. d. It empowers each individual and everyone develops a sense of ownership on the success of the team. Cons: a. The old process is very time consuming. The department will end up using the entire day just for the meeting. b.
Each member has no predefined roles in the RFP evaluation process which will affect the teams ability to efficiently manage their time during meetings and run the risk of having a team member who will turn into a passive listening mode because everyone is competing for airtime during the evaluation of each proposal. 2. To continue with present approach in managing the meetings; conducting initial pre-screening of the proposals but this time create 2-3 technical working groups that will assist Ned in the RFP evaluation process. Pros: a.
This will establish a clear structure for the team in handling the flow of the meeting. b. It encourages the active participation of each member. c. It empowers each individual and energizes the whole team to be an active contributor. Cons: a. Applying too much micro-management in the facilitation of the meeting will effectively limit the involvement of the other members even if they were already assigned in a technical working group. b. The continued stretch in the workload of Ned will ultimately lead to fatigue which will hamper his own work-life balance. c.
Negativity in the environment will be elevated in the long run d. More and more problems will come out since they weren’t able to address the root of the problem 3. To revert back to the old approach in managing the flow of the meeting wherein all analysts are able to share their inputs in creating the department’s decisions; this time 2-3 technical working groups will be created to assist the team in the RFP Evaluation process. However, an important step of team building will also be incorporated in the modification of the approach in the meetings. Pros: a.
The old approach promotes an environment which allows more brainstorming of ideas. b. It encourages the active participation of each member. They can come up with creative solutions and alternatives because everyone is empowered and will be given the chance to fully suggest their creative ideas. c. It prevents the facilitator (Ned) from controlling the flow of discussion and it gives each member the opportunity to contribute their own ideas and assessments during the course of the presentation of each proposal. d. It empowers each individual and everyone develops a sense of ownership on the success of the team. . It offers an opportunity for growth and continued learning. f. It can increase camaraderie and can promote deep understanding (trust and respect) between employees g. This will help the team set up a succession plan that will fill up future vacancies and promote deserving and competent analysts to managers if the opportunity arises. h. This will free up more time for Ned and avoid the pitfall of being burned out on the job. Cons: a. This will still take longer but a lot less than the old approach where in everyone is involved in the process. b.
There could be a resistance between the employees or managers especially those who are conditioned in authoritarian thinking. c. If the organization is looking for a quick fix, this alternative couldn’t apply since this could take time to develop lV. Recommendations We therefore recommend alternative three – To revert back to the old approach in managing the flow of the meeting but this time create 2-3 technical working groups to assist the team in the RFP Evaluation process. However, an important step of team building will also be incorporated in the modification of the approach in the meetings.
An important aspect of our recommendation aims to create a “team building program” that could promote a cooperative culture while gradually eradicating the unhealthy relationship effects of the competitive ideology. Moreover, this could encourage openness, respect, and collaboration to all the team members. Once team members learn to recognize, support and value every individual on the team, then it is a sign that the team building program is successful. Team building activities would also allow Ned and the people in his department to learn important things about each other.
In Ned’s case, managing people who he would be able to get to know more would be easier. He would know how to approach each subordinate and he would have better understanding of the behavior of individuals. It would be easier for him to adjust his management strategies in accordance to the needs and preference of his subordinates. In the case of the analysts, being able to bond with co-workers and with the superior is very important in developing better attitude towards the job and towards colleagues. It also provides a better understanding of individual purpose and worth in a department.
However, one of the disadvantages of the first aspect of this alternative is that people have the tendency to go back to their usual routine. Even if they are able to receive the team building training, there is a tendency that they could go back to their old ways of treating their team members. Hence, we want to follow-up this first aspect of our recommendation with another important aspect. The second aspect of this recommendation aims to develop an efficient review and selection procedure that could promote genuine openness, respect, cooperation and camaraderie to all the team members.
We recognize that the old approach of Ned in handling meetings, wherein everybody were involved is actually a good practice. However, there is just a need to modify it in such a way that time management and system issues would be addressed. This aspect recommends creating technical working groups within the team which will handle specific functions during the meetings. We do believe that team-building efforts are useless without action and without constant reinforcement.
By adding the second aspect of to the picture, it can reinforce the team building training program and could create a win/win environment for all of the team members by regularly practicing and applying the principles of the team building program to RFP reviews and meetings. We do believe that to be able to develop an efficient review and selection procedure, it should involve the Win/win concept. According to Covey (2004), author of the 7 Habits of Highly effective people, “Win/win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions”.
He also said that “win/win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying”. The win/win archetype could do away with the authoritarian approach culture (which is evident with Ned Wicker’s new approach) because everyone can learn to respect each other’s differences and can find creative ways to combine and incorporate each others’ ideas. Everyone will be committed to participate since the team members feel that they are deeply involved and valued with this kind of set-up. This alternative can eliminate division, anger and frustration because there is involvement.
Covey (2004) stated that “when we really, deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions and third alternatives”. Forming the technical working groups in the team of Ned will also make sure that the meetings will have structure and order. Each individual would be assigned to a role essential in the decision making process. During the meetings, discussions will still be present but will be regulated in such a way that only pertinent and semi-final information are deliberated. Also, with the technical groups, ownership of a task/proposal will be enhanced.
The system would allow both technical and leadership development in all individuals. These things are very important in retaining people in a department and improving or maintaining their performance. The justification and the basis of our recommendation lie in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. It may seem simple and basic but we do believe that the understanding of this concept could resolve the problem of Ned Wicker’s department. Maslow’s concept states that there are five levels of human needs; the psychological needs, security needs, social needs, esteem needs and the self-actualizing needs.
Psychology. about. com (2011) stated that “Satisfying these lower-level needs is important in order to avoid unpleasant feelings or consequences”. We do believe that Wicker’s change of approach deprived his co-workers three levels, the social, psychological and self-actualizing needs. Social and esteem needs include social involvement, personal worth and social recognition. Hence, by creating an authoritarian type of approach, Ned was able to unknowingly or perhaps unintentionally cut off those needs from his co-workers.
They were deprived of involvement and social recognition that is very important in an individual’s life. Given this scenario, the team members can’t proceed with the fulfillment of the self-actualizing needs, which is the highest level and which deals with the fulfillment of ones potentials. According to psychology. about. com (2011), “Maslow emphasized the importance of self-actualization, which is a process of growing and developing as a person to achieve individual potential”. This isn’t the case in Ned’s department; the team members are being deprived of fulfilling this need.
How can they grow, develop and achieve their full potential if the culture of the department doesn’t allow them to express their ideas? Ned’s team members might think of resigning and to finding a better company that would cater those needs. We believe that it’s not really about the salary or the position of a person that could make him loyal to an organization, those are very important things — but we do believe that the most important aspect for a person are self-growth, social recognition, and involvement.
Hence by developing a team building training program that encourages cooperative action, trust and respect and by reinforcing it with an environment that promotes camaraderie and a win/win situation for everyone, we think it is safe to say that we could address the issues regarding Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and can now give a suitable solution to Ned’s problem which was caused by the occurrence of “interpersonal barriers” between him and his co-workers, which in turn affected the productivity and the morale of the team”.