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The quest for leadership has been a defining factor for most organizations over time. Leadership has been defined as a sole remarkable characteristic that transforms the organization from a position of malfunction to excellence.
While so many leadership theories abound, the concept of a leadership style has been elusive and so many organizational leaders seek particular characteristics that make the difference between a functional organization and a dysfunctional one. Such characteristics have much to do with employee motivation and the structure of the organization. This is precisely what this paper looks at.
There have been several theories on motivation and organizational structure. Chapter three of Shafritz, Ott & Jang’s (2005) Classics of Organization Theory analyzes these theories to establish the various motivation factors that influence employees to increase their productivity. Such a theory is Abraham Maslow’s theory of needs that states that human being usually satisfy one level in their hierarchy of needs before moving to the next level. In order to motivate an employee, one has to satisfy their needs at their current level.
The chapter also looks at the Hawthorne experiments that were conducted between 1924 and 1932. The results of the experiments helped change the perception of scholars towards human motivation. While the authors look at what the experiments managed to achieve, we learn how the dynamics in an organization can be influenced to bring about productivity. Chapter four then looks at the different types of organizational structure which I shall analyze by comparing them to my former workplace.
Shafritz, Ott and Jang (2005) analyze Abraham Maslow’s theory of needs where they state that man is in a constant state of want. Employees as human beings therefore have several needs that have to be satisfied for them to be motivated enough to improve productivity. Maslow stated that human beings prioritize their needs from a basic level to a higher level. At the base are physiological needs, then safety, belonging, esteem and finally at the highest level self-actualization.
Placing this in the context of an organization one finds that first of all, pay must be satisfactory for the employee to meet his or her basic needs. The need to satisfy the other levels is dependent on the employee and in fact it is possible to transpose needs from a higher level through the individual’s perception of himself/herself.
At the Starbucks Coffee shop where I was an assistant manager, this hierarchy of needs played out and those waiters who felt that the pay could not meet their basic needs were unmotivated irrespective of the motivational technique employed.
The Hawthorne experiments particularly the bank wiring room experiments according to Shafritz, Ott and Jang (2005) helped to show that the influence of social factors was greater than that of technical or managerial control. The experiments helped scholars understand human motivation better.
At the coffee shop, it was notable that employees had a greater influence on each other than all the measures that I and the overall manager tried to put in place. Even where pay was increased, there was no notable change in efficiency or productivity.
Chapter four of Shafritz, Ott and Jang’s (2005) deals with various organizational structures that can be put in place to improve efficiency. The authors start with the concept of a formal organization where they analyze the importance of hierarchy and flow of authority. In a formal organization, there are set rules on procedures and decision making authority. The effective organization is described as one that is formally organized with proper command structures and coherent flow of authority.
There is also a consideration of organizational choice between product and functionality. The question here is whether to structure the organization based on the various functions that the employees perform under one manager or to structure it according to the product specifications that employees work on. Shafritz, Ott and Jang (2005) argue for both sides bringing out the pros and cons of each.
As an assistant manager, I had a role to play in motivating employees and ensuring that the organization remained effective and profitable. While much of the authority came from the overall manager, the command chain was simple and easy to understand.
Since our products were few (coffee and snacks) the organization was structured according to function where there was a head waiter, chief chef and senior accounts manager supervising the various functions. However, I would have liked to streamline the organization along departments rather than under a centralized command since that way, the employees would have an easier time communicating to their various heads who would in turn report to the overall management.
The various theories in both chapter three and four are quite descriptive and applicable across various organizations. I find that most of these theories related very much to my experience at the Starbucks coffee shop. While the simplicity of the theories was much helpful, I would have implemented certain motivational techniques and organizational structures that would have improved efficiency while opening up the lines of communication and establishing a clear flow of authority.
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Shafritz, J., Ott, S., & Jang, Y. (2005). Classics of Organization Theory (6th Ed). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth