2. Groups Within an Organisation
3. Organisation's Communication
4. Transformational Leadership
5. Intergroup Relationships
6. Centralised Management Training
7. Turning BHP Into 'Learning Organisation'
The current essay aims to explore some aspects to the performance of an organisation. The issues of groups in the organisation and their interrelationships, effects of transformational style of leadership play their roles in the success of the organisation. The work examines the application of these factors on the example of BHP.
GROUPS WITHIN AN ORGANISATION
Group is two or more people who join each other in order to achieve certain common goals. Members within are interrelated and mutually dependent. In an organisation a group is formed to fulfil particular tasks and called as a formal. Members of an organisation also join informal groups which are not determined by the organisational needs. Various factors cause people to unite in groups such as needs of security or power. some find there realisation of their personal goals or maintain their self-esteem and so on.
Throughout its existence a group endures a series of transformations, usually seen as a five stage model: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. On being united in a group members firstly are uncertain about the groups essence, its structure and purpose. In the second stage the group enters the phase of conflict which results in defining a leader.
In the third stage a group is a cohesive organism with a clear organisational structure, rules and norms. Then the group progresses to the crucial stage, where the assignment of a group is actually performed. After it may enter the stage of adjourning when all tasks have been performed. However, this algorithm is not always the case. The group's development through stages may vary like skipping some stages or being in two of them at the same time.
The group's performance is linked to the whole lot of conditions. There could be significant influences of external factors, the character of the organisation of which the group is a part, its strategy, resourcefulness, culture, regulations and so on. The group identity and performance is highly affected by the behaviour, personal characteristics of its members, therefore the selection process is important. The task of management is to form a group taking into account all conditions thus enabling its high efficiency.
Communication within an organisation is another significant factor. The members of a group should have necessary information about what and how is to be done. Lack in communication may lead to the loss of motivation of the employees. For instance uncertainty about exactness of goals or evaluation of the employees performance is able to contribute to the loss of interest in the work. Managers are responsible for creating effective communication networks ensuring the smooth circulation of information in an organisation. The successful communication can be achieved through the style of leadership.
Apart from a number of other factors, the success of a group is dependent on the leadership. The activities of a formal leader can seriously both enhance or hinder the group's performance. Transformational leaders are able to transform organisation's strategy and culture in order to achieve the required level of performance (Simpson and Beeby, 1993). They have a large amount of influence upon their followers. In this context they me regarded as charismatic leaders. Such leaders create a vision in a group or an organisation by not simply defining roles of organisation's members, but showing consideration for their personal needs, individual and collective interests are brought together (Pawar and Eastman, 1997). They generate such motivation that employees see the realisation of their personal goals in terms of the success of the group: employees are treated as individuals but as details of a mechanism.
The communication issue is also important from the viewpoint of intergroup relationships. Large organisations consists of a number groups each may have its own subculture. It is crucial to ensure their positive relationship, ie cooperation towards the one common goal of higher performance of an organisation as a whole.. Some groups may underestimate the importance of another one, for example technical group has little understanding of significance of the accounting or marketing sectors and therefore some actions may seem to them to be offensive. This, however, can be resolved by introducing internal consultants which are able to clearly redefine roles (Grossman, 1997). Interests and ambitions of the groups within an organisation may result in conflict between them whereby slackening the performance of the organisation. This could be neutralised by intergroup collaboration with the accent being put on the external attributes of groups, ie emphasising shared goals and developing unified behaviour without rejecting, however, differences between groups. (Bartunek et al., 1996).
CENTRALISED MANAGEMENT TRAINING
The step towards greater efficiency of an organisation could be achieved by founding centralised management training programs. For example, BHP has developed in-house management schools. This will help to generate a new type of leaders with transformational features. Managers are taught to act according to the transformational model that chasing the organisation's goals comes with the consideration of personal interests. Managers and employees would jointly develop a common vision. The program accentuates on improving communicating skills on the level of personal interrelationships.
TURNING BHP INTO 'LEARNING' ORGANISATION
BHP attempts to significantly modify its organisational structure. The company's structure is expected to be more emphasised in terms of knowledge networks which developed naturally rather formal division and hierarchy. The groups of employees working on day-by-day basis have accumulated an amount of knowledge. Layers of management will be removed. Middle managers trained at the management school will obtain relationship. They will be expected to use their expertise technical knowledge working within a particular network. Gradually, the company will be transformed into the network with no boundaries between managers and employees. It will enable to provide more flexibility eventually to eliminate the bureaucracy traits. Discovering and reinforcing personal capabilities of all members will also contribute to achieving common goals. Sharing and exchanging people's knowledge enriches the group's common knowledge.
The elimination of subordinate division is a factor that help to liquidate main bureaucratic features of the organisation. The activities of employees will be administered according to their personal strengths but not a hierarchal position. That eventually stimulates the desire of self-improvement for employees. The network model, then will guarantee the flow of knowledge in the organisation so the organisation will learn from its members. Thus the application of these alterations to the system will greatly contribute to the higher performance of BHP.
Bartunek, J. M., Foster-Fishman, P.G., Keys C.B., "Using Collaborative Advocacy to Foster Intergroup Cooperation: A Joint Insider-Outsider Investigation", Human Relations 1996 June, Vol. 49(6) pp. 701-733.
Grossman, Stephen, "Turning Technical Groups Into High-Performance Teams, Research Technology Management, 1997 Mar/Apr, Vol 40(2) pp.9-11
Pawar, B. Sh., Eastman, K.K. "The Nature and Implications of Contextual Influences on Transformational Leadership: A Conceptual Examination", Academy of Management Review, 1997 Jan., Vol. 22(1), pp. 80-109
Simpson, P., Beeby M. "Facilitating Public Sector Organisational Culture Change Through the Processes of Transformational Leadership: A Study Integrating Strategic Options Development and Analysis with the Cultural Values Survey", Management Education and Development, 1993 Winter, Vol.24(4), pp.316-329.
University of Technology, Sydney
© 1997 Andrei Sidorenko