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persuasive communication that is pushy or coercive can be threatening to individuals. When workers feel that their personal freedoms are threatened by people, rules, or regulations, it can arouse an outlook that contradicts the original intent (Carver, 1980). Prior to Dick’s arrival in Modrow, the plant had undergone a modernization. This transformation had an adverse effect on morale and threatened existing work practices. When
DICK SPENCER CASE21Dick passed through the plant’s trim shop, he discovered a more efficient way of disposing waste. Dick suggested this method to an employee and was told, “We’ve never done it that way, sir.” (Buller & Schuler, 2003). He questioned his foreman about the existing disposal process and the foreman said, “We’ve always done it that way” (Buller & Schuler, 2003). Unsatisfied bythese responses, Dick offered a visual demonstration to show that his way was better. The foreman raised concerns, asked questions, and remained skeptical about the cost controls. After afrustrating meeting, the foreman grudgingly agreed to a two-week trial. When Dick walked the floor he noticed the changes had not been implemented. Again, he questioned the foreman. The foreman offered a series of excuses and explanations detailing why the new process would not work. Dick was not interested in listening and shouted, “I don’t care what the problems are” (Buller & Schuler). In Dick’s mind, there would be a one-way discussion that would not be opento compromise. He demonstrated that he was not willing to listen or show empathy for their concerns. Dick forced his way and the incident escalated. By removing equipment from the trim shop, he had hoped to change the work process. The foreman had been astonished and infuriated by the fact that Dick would come into his territory and impose his ways. In Dick’s last visit to thetrim shop, he was surprised to see that the work process had remained the same minus the equipment.In Modrow, Dick faced a great deal of resistance. He had not attempted to learn about theculture of his workforce or their way of doing things. Culturally he was not like them; he was an outsider. A cross-cultural study found that employees were less likely to comply with the request of an authority figure who lacked a culturally valued trait (Wosinska et al., 2009). Dick’s inability to build trust and win over subordinates created additional problems. Supervisors and managers were suspicious of his efforts to manage employees simply by walking around.
DICK SPENCER CASE22Carnevale and Wechsler (1992) argue that “a lack of trust can lead to dysfunctional outcomes such as cynicism, low motivation, low commitment and a lack of confidence in the organization”. Problems were compounded by Dick’s ineffective communication and unwillingness to compromise. As a result, subordinates went to great lengths to resist him. They detested his overbearing attitude and constant pressure to do things his way.