Type of Culture
Modes of Communication
Academic Organization X embraces a variety of communication forms. Depending on who the information is between largely determines which type of communication one can expect. For example, when information comes from the top of the organization down to the instructor (top to the bottom), these communiques largely come in the form of emails. While these are important and they are expected to be read, when more formality is necessary a written memo is placed in the mailboxes of the staff. Both of these methods can be considered official communiques as there is written record of when they were sent and whom they were sent by. For example, there was a reoccurring problem with student conduct related to cellular phone usage. Specifically, this is not addressed in the staff handbook, however, it had become a problem in the organization. To assuage the problem, the senior officials/administration made a related policy that allowed cellular phone use in between classes but not during class time (phones cannot be seen during class). The only exception was with expressed consent of the administration that the student would have to obtain earlier in the day and present each of their teachers with the consent form. These forms could be obtained based on family emergencies or other valid reasons a student would need to answer a call immediately. Without a consent form, no cellular phones are allowed in classes. This amendment to the handbook (which was added the next year) was both emailed to all staff and placed in written form in the mail boxes. In addition, it was communicated to the students also through oral delivery and written memos. The variety of forms in which the information was communicated demonstrated importance. On the other end of the spectrum, when there was a transportation delay that affected a certain number of students, a simple email was sent to instructors letting them be cognizant of the information. Based on the way the information comes, an idea of its importance can be estimated.
Nature of Authority
The authority in the organization is based on a hierarchal distinctions with various tiers of what can be considered authority. Authority is not gained through seniority, but through perceived competence by the managerial staff. In most cases, however, it is those with more seniority that have higher ranking. On the lowest tier, there is the instructor. Directly above the instructor is the lead teacher of that department. Above them is the department manager and still above them is the program manager. On the top of the spectrum is the President. Below the president is a lateral three vice president lineage that has a vice president of student affairs, the vice president of human relations and the vice president of organizational activity. Below that tier are people like human resource managers, recruitment managers, technology managers and the likes. Holistically, this complicated tiered approach was common in the Twentieth Century organizational model. It is rigid and not flexible and information comes from the top down. Essentially, it operates more in a military fashion. Unfortunately, the military is one of the few organizations that still makes this work in the Twenty Century simply because of their unique command/obey attributes. In the new organizational paradigm of the information age, it is generally recognized that flattened levels of management with 360 degree communication are the most efficacious. Academic Organization X seems to be making no attempts to adjust to this proven system. The reason for this is that the decision making body, management, would be largely eliminating most of its positions. This makes internal flux as what is best for the individual middle managers is not best for the organization and the competition between the two has created an outdated stagnancy.
Motivation in organizations are generally divided into intrinsic or extrinsic modalities. Some psychologists, however, have argued that it is improper to separate them as they work together in a systems capacity. According to Reiss, "I believe that intrinsic-extrinsic motivation is an invalid distinction...I do not think that motives can be divided into just two types" (p. 1). Academic Organization X tends to attempt to divide the rewards and focus primarily on extrinsic reward structures. Intrinsic rewards are largely overlooked on the organizational level at the firm and are only championed if a specific leader or manager chooses to embrace them. The primary extrinsic reward validation is pay raises that are supposed to be performance rated. Performance is judged by quantitative variables like retention, student test scores, recruitment and other variables related to a particular job in the organization. Unfortunately, in education, there are a variety of variables pertaining to being a good teacher or good counsellor that cannot be measured in quantitative terms like retention. Most staff members feel that the reward structures are not proper evaluations of their performance and the fact that very few staff members qualify for them further adds to the disdain of staff. The few staff members who get rewards are also not those peers regard as being the best at what they do or even as leaders, they simply look good on paper. As a result, this extrinsic reward structure is mostly considered a joke to staff and they are not motivated to work harder because of it. Management is still clinging to the validity of their measurement and raise system and refuses to alter it or consider instructor input. Areas of EQ Incorporated Academic Organization X does recognize that emotional intelligence (EQ) is a strong predictor of success in the business world. As a result, they go out of their way to attempt to recruit people with strong indicators that they have sound EQ. This is keeping with current business management trends. Newman cites Stephen Covey who stated:
Research shows convincingly that EQ is more important than IQ in almost every role and many times more important in leadership roles. This finding is accentuated as we move from the control philosophy of the industrial age to the an empowering release philosophy of the knowledge worker age (p. 1).
There have been several in services at Academic Organization X that have sought to help staff recognize the importance of EQ and also to develop their own. Unlike IQ, which remains somewhat static throughout one's life, EQ can be increased and developed. In a recent staff training, one of the instructors taught a lesson on developing leadership traits that used the Newman 5 section emotional intelligence for leadership performance model. In this model, the following traits were outlined as being important to the staff: self management, social skills, adaptability, social awareness and self awareness (Newman). Throughout the training, staff were asked to evaluate their own EQ and determine areas that needed improvement with attention to how improvement could be made. Also, as part of the EQ process, human resource hiring officials give prospective staff members short EQ tests as part of their interviewing process. Though the scores are not used as the sole too for hiring, the scores are considered within the context of the interview to see if their is basic symmetry between how they came across to the interviewer and how they scored on the test. Though not infallible, it is one way to see if a person is accurately representing themselves in an interview, where most people put their best self forward in order to obtain the position. Components of a Virtual Organization Academic Organization X does embrace technology and the attributes of a virtual organization. Sometimes, however, the old organizational paradigm of the rigid tiered management structure is at odds with the flexibility necessary for virtual teams and virtual classrooms. The management prefers to have staff where they can be seen and micromanaged.
In addition to being damaging to morale, virtual classrooms exist outside of select time frames or the proverbial punching the 9-5 clock. Since the school does offer virtual online programs, the teachers responsible for monitoring the online classes have been given more flexibility in the hours in which they have to be in the actual school than conventional staff members. Though this was not an easy organizational change for the school to make, it was necessary and it is still being adapted with mixed results. It is generally recognized that the program is evolving in the right direction. Beyond online education, the organization is also embracing video chats, virtual meetings and it some rare instances, virtual teams. This particular organization only has one campus. With plans to branch out in the future though, it is recognized that virtual teams and projects will probably become part of the operation in the future. As a result, ways to properly use the technology are being explored and used on an experimental level. On a student level, all staff have access to the student performance and work in terms of virtual information. This is useful as if a student is struggling in one class, the instructor can get online to see if the problem is isolated or if it is indicative of a larger problem. This virtual information sharing has led to many successful identifications of learning disabilities that may not have been picked out so easily if file sharing was not available in such an efficient manner.
The collected observational research suggest that Academic Organization X is doing some things congruent to the needs of a Twenty First Century organization, however, they are also missing out on some key elements that could hinder their success in the long term. The most noted problem in the organization is the interaction between the multiple management tiers and general staff. Management is hindering the evolution of the organization into a more flexible, flattened and 360 degree communicative model that is necessary for the information age. Though some concession are being made, they are only being made if they do not directly reduce the managerial/administrative hierarchy. In this struggle, there is a constant battle to prove to the President and Board of Directors that some managerial positions are necessary. For example, the adherence to the performance extrinsic reward program is judged by nearly all staff as being inaccurate and non efficacious. Because senior middle managers champion it, however, it is still being used. At the present time, there is no accurate judge of performance outside of student standardized test scores and profitability. This measures the efficacy of the organization and not the individual however. On the positive end of the spectrum, the organization does embrace diversity, EQ and components of a virtual organization. It is best determined that Academic Organization X has transitioned about 1/2 way into the new organizational paradigm. Until 100% of the transformation is complete, however, the organization will lag behind other higher performing structures. Even if the need for change is finally agreed upon, which it is not amongst staff and management, initiated change fails more often than it succeeds.
Acona, D. (2005) Managing for the Future. Canada: Thomson. Newman, M (2007). Emotional Capitalists. New York: Jossey Bass.
Reiss, S. (2009). The myth of intrisic-extrinsic motivation. Psychology Today.
Sullivan, D. (2006). The melting pot versus the salad bowl. Daggle.
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