In large organizations that include several different departments and work based on the decentralized model of leadership with a complex hierarchy, it is critical that all the branches and services work in cooperation. The disruption of the systems and operations in one part of such an organization is likely to compromise the work of the other departments and produce a negative impact on the performance of the entire organization. The focus of this paper is the analysis of a situation provided in a case study about Western State University that has been suffering from the incompetent leadership of the Registrar that eventually led to the organizational culture issues in the three departments answering to this leader. In particular, the paper will cover the transformational and transactional dimensions described in the case study, the primary stakeholders, known sources of data available to the managers responsible for the solutions for this situation, and the aspects of it that are still unknown.
The case study analyzed in the paper presents a challenging situation that occurred at Western State University where the newly appointed Registrar is faced with numerous problems that arose due to the insufficient leadership of her predecessor. The new leader is to solve problems dwelling on different organizational levels – the problematic leadership styles and attitudes of the directors of different departments, ethical issues, legal challenges, threats to the organizational image and reputation, weak organizational culture, and the lack of coordination between different services.
Transactional and Transformational Dimensions Described in the Case Study
In the model presented by Burke and Litwin (1992), there are five transformational factors: external environment, leadership, organizational culture, mission and strategy, and individual and organizational performance. All of these factors can be found in the case study for Western State University.
The situation presented in the case study explores the change of leader in charge of three important departments of Western State University – Undergraduate Admissions, Enrollment Services, and Financial Aid. The performance of the departments has deteriorated over the last few years due to incompetent leadership. The new leader (Martha Gomez) is facing a series of challenges and problems. The external environment of the organization is difficult to identify because it is not mentioned in the case study; however, it is possible to evaluate the environment external to the three departments. First of all, the unsuccessful appointment of the previous leader occurred due to the chain of events and a misjudgment of the previous dean of the university.
Practically, the incompetent Registrar (Walter Libby) took the position because the previous dean did not make an effort to evaluate this candidate since they were friends. Secondly, the transformational dimension of leadership was affected significantly by Walter’s lack of professionalism. His leadership was passive, without any supervision or guidance for the three departments, and full of unreasonable criticism that alienated the employees, and forced them to avoid reporting problems. In turn, the dimension of organizational performance suffered as well because the three departments that should work in coordination learned to perform independently; this tendency caused chaos, reduced productivity, and the dissatisfaction of the other related departments and the University students.
The organizational culture of the three departments became adversely affected as well. The lack of strong guidance and policy and the communication between the staff and its managers, the department of Enrollment Services is facing ethical issues due to the actions of its director Mariel Kennedy who seems to be pushing her religious beliefs on her subordinates thus creating a level of discomfort for them and discriminating against some of the employees. Based on the aspects mentioned above, the dimension of mission and strategy has been impacted in a negative manner because the mission of the three departments is no longer relevant, their performance is weak, and the staff is unhappy.
As for the transactional dimensions, Burke and Litwin (1992) distinguished between seven of them: structure, management practices, systems (policies and procedures), work unit climate, individual needs and values, tasks and skills, and motivation.
The structure of the organizational unit of which Martha was put in charge is rather complex; it includes three different departments with diverse goals and tasks; however, all of the three parts are to work in cooperation regardless of their differing functions. Due to the absence of proper leadership, the three departments became disengaged and focused only on their individual objectives thus causing clashes with the tasks of all the related departments. The dimension of management practices covers the problem of Mariel’s actions in reference to her subordinates who are made uncomfortable; in addition, her biased professional performance tends to depower the groups of employees who disagree with her individual worldview that is not even a part of the work environment.
This problem is also covered by the dimension of individual needs and values. When it comes to systems (policies and procedures), it is possible to state that since the previous leader was harsh and provided much criticism, the managers of the three departments had to adjust the systems of reporting of errors in order to avoid the unforgiving treatment from the side of Walter. Moreover, the tasks and skills issue is seen in the conflict with Jorge Santana whose authoritarian leadership is destroying the motivation of his workers.
Important Stakeholders and Their Issues
The case study involved multiple stakeholders. The first stakeholder is the organization in general that is suffering from the dysfunctional work of some of its departments. The three departments play very important roles in organizational performance and shape their perception by the students and society. As a result, the reputation of the university, as well as its image, is threatened by the unprofessional leadership of the past and the current lack of agreement between the departments. Student satisfaction has been linked to the overall image of a university, and that is why the investigation of the exact causes of the reduced student satisfaction is critical for the organization (Fares, Achour, & Achkar, 2013; Azoury, Daou, & El Khouri, 2013).
Secondly, the three large groups of stakeholders within the university are the three departments answering to the Registrar – Undergraduate Admissions (that is under control of a leader who is unwilling to cooperate with the new Registrar due to the personal reasons), Enrollment Services (the department with weak organizational culture due to the issues of agreement, inclusion, and understanding between the employees and their director), and Financial Aid (the department whose Director is suspected of accepting gifts from the lending institutions involved in the provision of the student loans and whose Assistant Director is known for a very intimidating attitude towards the workers that tends to produce a negative effect on the employees’ self-perception and professional confidence).
Thirdly, the other stakeholders in this situation are the departments whose operations are affected by the chaos currently observed in Undergraduate Admissions, Enrollment Services, and Financial Aid. The inharmonious work of the three departments answering to the Registrar has been disrupting the performance of the related services, and many complaints have been filed in this regard. In addition, the students as the recipients of the services provided by all of the departments are another group of stakeholders. This group has reported being negatively affected by the lack of order and nourishing leadership of the Registrar.
Moreover, the other stakeholders can be characterized as individual as they are the single members of the university staff that have been affected by the intended and unintended changes. In particular, one of the stakeholders is Martha Gomez, the new Registrar who is now facing a set of problems that are interconnected and require fast solution; the challenge for this stakeholder is the likelihood that some of the other leaders involved in the situation are unwilling to cooperate. Moreover, the Director of the Enrollment Services department (Mariel Kennedy) is facing an unpleasant conversation as to her unethical behavior in the workplace; there is a chance that Mariel’s religious beliefs could serve as a powerful and irreparable bias. The Director of Financial Aid department whose actions are now investigated may have compromised his professionalism. In that way, there is a chance that Martha Gomez may have to let go of the two Directors leaving tow out of three departments without leaders. The remaining two stakeholders are Lucy Beecher and Jorge Santana whose workplace attitudes are going to complicate Gomez’s future performance as Registrar.
Known Sources of Data
One of the sources of data for the assessment and analysis of the situation are the reports about the performance of each department on an annual or monthly basis. Moreover, another valuable source of information is presented by the complaints filed by the employees of the three departments under the control of the Registrar as well as the employees of the related services. It is known that some reports have been made by the workers about the aspects of the departments’ work that required changes or were disruptive in relation to the professional performance of the other departments. A detailed review of these complaints could help Gomez identify the areas of work that produce the majority of adverse effects and need to be prioritized in terms of changes and reforms.
In addition, students have served as another useful source of information about the performance of the three departments reporting high and very high levels of dissatisfaction with their services. In that way, this group of stakeholders can be employed as an indicator of the effectiveness of the implemented change strategies. The two sources of data may be used as the survey groups helping the investigators identify the current problems that persist in the work of the three departments. It is possible to include the two sources of data into the research with the help of a questionnaire including a set of questions to assess the issues that bother the groups the most.
What Is not Known about the Situation
One of the areas that are currently unknown about the situation in the university is the overall attitude of the employees working in Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, and Undergraduate Admission. Martha is aware that Steve from Enrollment Services has experienced discomfort and felt discriminated against due to the actions of Director Kennedy; in addition, it is known that the subordinates of Director Santana had been feeling pressure and feeling depowered and unmotivated because of his overbearing style of leadership.
These are just two cases of clear employee dissatisfaction; however, there could be more issues of this kind. It has been researched and proved that employee satisfaction is tightly connected to the overall organizational performance (Latif et al., 2013). In fact, job satisfaction of the workers is recognized as one of the major drivers of their productivity and the harmonious workplace climate (Latif et al., 2013). At the same time, the employees’ dissatisfaction with their jobs is connected to their lack of motivation to perform their professional duties and tasks (Dobre, 2013). In that way, the information as to the employees’ current work-related attitudes needs to be gathered in order to carry out an analysis and determine the factors and situations that contribute to the most dissatisfaction.
In other words, one of the primary questions to answer during that future organization diagnosis process is the following: “What is the current level of job satisfaction of the employees of the three departments answering to the Registrar?”. In addition, a question that is related to this one is “what are the causes of the employees’ job dissatisfaction and lack of motivation?”. Further, the Directors of the three departments each have quite serious problems that could affect the future performance of the new Registrar. As a result, it is important to assess their ethics and workplace attitudes.
The questions related to the Directors are the following: “Is Mariel Kennedy capable of maintaining an unbiased professional relationship with her subordinates; and can she act as an impartial conflict mediator in every situation and with all kinds of employees?”, “Is Glen Rothman rightfully accused of accepting gifts from the loan issuers?”, “Can Jorge Santana change his leadership style and show a more open-minded and transformational attitude?”, “Can Lucy Beecher overcome her personal problems with the Dean’s decision to appoint Martha as the new Registrar and will she show the required degree of cooperation?”. Moreover, the disengaged work of the departments is another issue that needs to be assessed; the questions concerning this aspect are the following: “Which operations of the three departments need to correlate?”, “Which ones are the least and effective or facing the most disruption?”. Practically, all the questions presented above can be grouped into three major categories – student and employee satisfaction, leaders’ performance, operations, and systems.
The change of a leader is a significant alteration for any organization. In this particular case study, the leader is in charge of three important departments whose operations have been compromised by the errors of the previous authority. Scholars find that leaders tend to have a massive impact on the overall efficiency of an organization and their styles need to correlate with the needs of the employees and the institution in general (Obiwuru et al., 2011). In that way, the new Registrar of the Western State University is facing a set of objectives and tasks directed at the adjustment of the current operations and performances of the managers as well as the employees in accordance with the requirements of the organization and its clients – the students.
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