Presentation of the Facts Surrounding the Case
The case examines a dispute between Meg Cooke, DSS’s COO and Chris Peterson, newly appointed Southwest Region’s team leader. Cooke appointed Peterson a leadership role for one of the newly structured cross-functional teams designated to create a new integrated budget and planning system. The cross functional teams were tasked with building relationships with existing school districts in their regions and provide them a full range of DSS services and to develop new consulting offerings in response to the district’s needs. (Case 2010) Theses goals were created to facilitate a transition to servicing larger districts rather than the smaller districts, which DSS based it past structure around. Peterson was responsible for creating a successful and efficient team within DSS’s reorganization. The team was responsible for designing and creating an integrated budget and planning system with in a time frame of six months. Cooke was updated of the status and objectives of the project periodically.
The meeting were short and not effective for either party. After the six month deadline was reached Peterson met with Cooke to provide an update on the status of the project her group had been working on. Cooke decided that Peterson’s project would be discontinued, her team would be reorganized and would not be involved in futures product development. Peterson was convinced that her team and project were excellent. Further examination of the case reveals that there may be significant problems related to the company’s transition and Cooke role as COO. Cooke has several deficiencies in the area of leadership, management style, communication, and teamwork and change management. Regarding Peterson, her exemplary team management and teamwork resulted in group-think, causing her team to lose the ability to make unbiased decisions and effectively evaluate possible risks and alternatives.
Identification of the Key Issue(s)
Many issued are related to the substantial strategic and organizational changes taking place at DSS. Peterson and Cooke have varied perspectives relating to leadership, management style, communication, teamwork, organizational culture, and change management. Cooke’s leadership is characterized by low regard for creating systems for getting the job done and for creating a satisfying and motivating work environment. The outcome of such leadership style is disorganization, dissatisfaction and disharmony. Collected evidence suggest that Cooke provided very little leadership to Peterson. Peterson and other associates felt anxious for the uncertainty on how the new organizational strategy would unfold. Cooke was only interested in the outcome of what Peterson and her team were working on at the end of the six month period. Cooke did not pose any questions and did not ask for any status updates throughout the projects duration. When Peterson asked for support for her group and the task they were working on, Cooke did not provide any direct action. Other DSS associates felt that Cooke was playing favorites.
Cooke did not involve her employs to feel involved and understand the organizations new purpose and determine the production needs. When employees are committed to and have an interest in the organization success, production and moral typically coincide with positive outcomes. This leads to the organization successfully meeting the designated goals. The ability to have employees buy in to desired goals are promoted by an organizational environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction and motivation and, as a consequence, high production. ( MindTools). Cooke gave Peterson the ability to choose her own team members, projects, and location of operations. Cooke did so in a passive manner.
In the following follow-up meeting Cooke never expressed any objections to Peterson actions and plans, but when she did present a problem concerning the assistance she required form management and other supporting operations, Cooke dismissed her claims by stating that she would provide the needed help at a later time. Peterson’s behavior and management style influenced her team’s performance, while Cooke’s absence of communication and guidance lead to wasted time and resources on a system that did not meet DSS goals.
Listing Alternative Courses of Action That Could Be Taken
Better communication needs to be created between mid and upper management. Proper communication will lead to a better understanding of the goals desired. Feedback is provided by upward communication, which makes employees feel involved and can help managers to get employees to understand their concerns (Thrilwall, 2012). Cooke and Peterson communicated scarcely and poorly. No regular meeting were scheduled. When the two did communicate there was no clear and actionable dialogue. Communication is only successful when both the sender and receiver understand the same information as a result of communication ( MindTools, n.d.) Both Cooke and Peterson should establish regular structured communication. This can be accomplished by setting periodic meetings, written updates via e-mail or memos. These meeting will provide downward communication that will allow information to be dispensed to the team working on the projects in question. These meeting will make Peterson and her team feel more involved in the direction of the project and it will also keep Cooke abreast of the attitudes and values of her employees.
Cooke can defuse any potential problems before they have a negative impact on the group and the project. Cooke’s could adjust her management style. Her methods when dealing with Peterson and her team lead to confusion. Her managerial control and direction were minimal, due the delegation of direction to Peterson, which allowed her to act with maximum freedom. Peterson was allowed to develop a specific product for a small district regardless of the new DSS strategy to refocus its resources on acquiring larger school districts. Cooke needs to focus on redirecting Peterson and her team to achieving the newly desired mission the organization has set in place. That includes providing a direction and strategy which will integrate the individual and the organization ( Thirlwall, 2012). Peterson displayed her ability to effectively act independently. If Cooke would have provided more control pertaining to the direction Peterson and her group were heading the negative outcome could have been avoided.
Evaluation of Alternative Courses of Action
Better communication needs to be created between mid and upper management. Establishing better communication can provide several benefits for DSS. The first, which would be a necessity for any future DSS strategy to be successful would be team building. Team building can transition an organizations culture from cooperation to collaboration. By establishing team environment employees will feel they are a part of something. The feeling of being involved in something increases the effort employees will place in projects and designated task. Better communication also creates a culture of transparency. When companies encourage employees to communicate honestly without fear of repercussions, transparency will transform from an ideal to a reality. An environment of honesty promotes respect amongst employees. An increase in communication and honesty can cause increased revenue and innovation. Cooke could adjust her management style.
Cooke must be willing to make the needed adjustments to improve her management style. She first needs to understand herself. She has to recognize her flaws, not just in the situation with Peterson but her role in DSS organization. She also has to recognize her strengths. Her ability to identify her strengths and weakness will allow her to build a stronger relationship with her employees. The bonds that she can build with her employees and peers will be reflective of her interpersonal communication skills. This reflection will provide insight into areas in the organization and within herself that require improvement. Cooke will need to continually re-evaluate her management style. Being able to realize what works and what doesn’t is key to being an effective manager ( WordPress, 2009)
Recommendation of the Best Course of Action
The best course of action is for DSS to create a standard outline for communication prior to and during the lifespan of a project. These guidelines should include timing and require length of meetings, scheduled times for updates via e-mail or in person meetings. Also they should provide the specification for any information that needs to be provided to all person involved in the project in question. The information should be pertinent to the status of the project and personal. Also the supply of information should allow as a segue to any questions or concerns by either party. An open dialogue should be the basis of all communication throughout the projects duration.
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