The case study of the company Stein, Bodello & Associates, Inc. can produce some lessons, including those related to top-down and bottom-up management. The first lesson that appears to be singularly relevant to authoritative management is the one that instructs managers to avoid neglecting the needs and interests of the employees, especially in case they report issues and attempt to start a meaningful conversation.
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The case explicitly illustrates the dangers of a neglectful approach: the employees feel undervalued and underappreciated, their morale lowers, which is likely to result in reduced productivity. Apart from that, the case also suggests that bad decisions (that lower morale or hinder the working process) are likely to be made if the employees’ perspective is ignored. Indeed, the case clearly illustrates the importance of taking into account the employees’ viewpoint to determine what can help them to work and, therefore, improve business processes. This fact highlights the significance of the involvement of employees in decision-making.
Secondly, the case supplies some lessons on managing the managers, and the illustration is related to a particularly difficult case with an extremely authoritative manager. Some of the conclusions in this part include the understanding that the employees who search for solutions should try to find a balance between being non-threatening to the management while touching upon sensitive issues that the management attempts to dismiss.
Eventually, the case implies the necessity for motivating both parts (management and employees) to share their viewpoints and follow the reciprocity doctrine: the employees can only manage managers if they comprehend the interests of the latter while also communicating their own. Unfortunately, the case also shows that even careful attempts at communicating the employees’ perspective might be dismissed by the manager. The reciprocity may be difficult to achieve when one of the parties is completely uninterested in the other’s viewpoint.
Another significant aspect of the case that should be mentioned in the topic of control. It can be described through several aspects, but the issue that is directly used to illustrate the topic is that of budget control. Dan Stein’s nondisclosure policy resulted in cost control issues, in which managers remained underinformed, costs exceeded expectations, and the employees were generally frustrated. However, this situation appears to be a symptom of the problems demonstrated by the company. Thus, the budget and cost control issues are an example of some of the challenges that can result from the excessive reluctance to give up some part of control on the managers’ side.
In the case, the managers and even the employees repeatedly attempt to employ the modicum of control that they have, which Stein appears to perceive as a threat and generally proceeds to neglect. The case seems to imply that by becoming a perceived threat to managers’ control, employees reduce their chances of changing anything, but at the same time, it indicates that less insistent methods (like the petition for a shower) have even smaller success.
Therefore, it appears that employees have to search for a balance between attaining some amount of control without threatening the control of managers, but the power dynamics similar to those in the case are likely to make the process extremely complicated. Thus, the key lesson that is related to control in the case is that a critical disbalance of control between managers and employees is detrimental and needs to be avoided because promoting change in poorly balanced power dynamics is increasingly difficult.
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