The tasks of running a department may overburden a manager especially when it comes to dealing with employees and accommodating their varied perspectives and expectations. It becomes almost unbearable for managers when employees start to question the status quo and the manner through which the affairs of the organization are conducted as clearly demonstrated in the case.
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While it is the function of departmental managers and line supervisors to encourage open dialogue and effective communication of grievances and recommendations by employees (Fina, 2009), many organizations have put in place frameworks through which this can be achieved without compromising effectiveness, performance and productivity.
The case demonstrates a classical scenario of an employee who seems to ‘know-it-all’ regarding the way the health institution should be run, basing his knowledge largely on theoretical principles accrued by enrolling in a community college that offers management courses. Management theorists take cognizance of the fact that open communication encourages creativity and innovation, vital ingredients that must be incorporated in an organization’s strategies aimed at achieving better outcomes (Fina, 2009).
As such, it is important for managers to encourage their employees to offer recommendations and constructive criticisms on areas they feel needs to be modified. However, there are established structures to go about it, and it should be the function of the concerned managers to conduct proper orientation and training on new employees so that they may have adequate knowledge on how to channel their grievances and recommendations using the right mediums (Scott, 2007).
Second, managers such as Glen Jones should utilize employee orientation and training to encourage behavior or attitude modification among employees with vested interests on how the organization is run.
The conflict of interests presented by the employee may not necessarily be harmful, but there is a need to shape and align them with the policies, rules and regulations of the organization (Scott, 2007). This can be done through employee training and development. Third, managers faced with such a scenario may also mentor the concerned employee using both formal and informal processes to nurture their growth and maturity, especially in attitude modification.
It should not be the function of the manager to suppress the high energy and motivation of an employee who may project a ‘know-it-all’ attitude; rather, the manager should view the situation as a communication pitfall that obliges the employee to demonstrate his state-of-the-art knowledge, which may lead the employee to criticize the status quo.
As such, the manager can also arrange for constructive, practical conversations with the employee aimed at entrenching a sense of mutual purpose with him (Schroeder, 2005), and make him realize that implementing the theories learnt in the classroom varies across organizations and may not always work in practical situations. The above solutions would definitely encourage modification of attitude.
As already mentioned, the newly acquired knowledge may serve to enhance the productivity and efficiency of the organization, but only if channeled through the established frameworks (Scott, 2007). As such, it is important to refer the new learnt knowledge to the appropriate management arm for prompt resolution of the issues that may arise.
Sharing of knowledge and information is the first step towards establishing if such knowledge can be applied in the present scenario. As such, the employee can collaborate with fellow employees and even the line management to make his presentation on why he thinks his recommendation should be adopted, and the presentation should be carefully vetted by others to divulge its workability.
For example, the employee may first communicate his thoughts to a network or peer pals using either formal or informal channels so that the strengths and weaknesses of his recommendation can be discussed and evaluated against a backdrop of strict adherence to the standards set by the organization.
Individuals comprising a network are known to willingly promote the efforts of each other for mutual benefit. Upon vetting of the recommendation, the employee can then write an objective report to the relevant department or management requesting for consideration of his recommendation and feedback for the same.
According to Scott (2007), the aim of applying new knowledge should never be focused on questioning the status quo or specific organizational policies and practices; rather, it should revolve around suggesting recommendations which employees feel should be evaluated and tested for practicability in an attempt to enhance the objectives and outcomes of the organization.
There exist several possible reasons why managers may become aggravated when an employee projects himself as a ‘know-it-all’ as is the case with Willis.
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First, the manager may harbor actual or perceived feelings that his position of authority within the organizational hierarchy is being undermined by incessant questioning of the status quo. These feelings are especially valid in situations where an employee fails to follow the established structures and frameworks to air grievances or make suggestions about the desired changes (Scott, 2007).
In such a situation, the manager may feel threatened by the employee, and may end up accusing the employee of insubordination even though the issues raised may be genuine. This is one of the reasons why Glen is particularly aggravated with Willis incessant questioning even though some of issues raised by the employee are of serious concern to the health institution.
A manager may also be aggravated with the issues raised by an employee if the processes and procedures put in place by the organization do not allow him to act otherwise, that is, the rules and regulations are not flexible (Fina, 2009). Here, the aggravation is valid to the extent that the manager cannot bend the rules to accommodate some of the constructive criticisms offered by employees no matter their relevancy.
In this particular case, Glen feels that some of the suggestions offered by Willis are of genuine concern, but cannot act on them since he receives instructions from a higher office. In essence, the manager’s hands are tied, thus he cannot act in anyway to change the status quo in spite of the fact that such changes may end up benefiting the institution. In such a situation, tempers are bound to flare, resulting in aggravation.
Employees are not supposed to openly criticize the decisions made by the management as was the case when Willis questioned how Glen dealt with the case involving other employees. For the managers, such open criticism is not only demeaning to their positions of authority, but also carries them in bad light among the very junior employees they are supposed to lead (Fina, 2009).
In this perspective, Glen’s growing aggravation with Willis can be validated on account of failure by the employee to use the laid down procedures to lodge a formal complaint about the manager’s problem-solving strategies.
Lastly, aggravation with employees who question the status quo may be worsened when managers fail to get direction from the top leadership on the actions to take to amicably solve an arising issue. It should be the function of senior managers to offer leadership and suggest ways through which issues are resolved, and the departmental managers should ensure that the strategies are implemented and employees are satisfied with the results. This is a valid concern since leadership must be demonstrated by action.
Fina, M .A. (2009). Perspectives on managing employees. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Schroeder, D. (2008). Human resources: Know-it-all employee needs crucial conversation. Web.
Scott, G.S. (2007). A survival guide to managing employees from hell. New York, NY: AMACOM.