The organisation I work in, Dubai Government Human Resources Department (DGHR), is concerned with “the management, development and governance of human resources for the government sector” (“Dubai Government Human Resources Department” par. 1). Apart from that, our activities are aimed at “updating human resources practices and leading and planning the processes of building national capabilities” (“Dubai Government Human Resources Department” par. 2).
Human resources in Dubai and the UAE have particular features. The most noticeable ones are the share of Emirati population (that is 19% in 2015) as well as the low level of women involvement in the labour force (“The United Arab Emirates” par. 4; “Dubai Plan 2021 Enters Implementation Phase” par. 29). Youth unemployment in UAE equals 7.9% among male citizens, but it is 21.8% when female ones are concerned (“United Arab Emirates” par. 4).
Established in 2009 under the Law no. 31, our Department has been in line with the current efforts of Dubai Government that are aimed at modernising and Emiratising the governmental human resources (“DGHRD” par. 1; “Dubai Human Resources Law Made Flexible” par. 1-5). Inconsistency with these ideas is our last, but not the least important goal: “providing a research base for generating and exchanging knowledge”, which is typically regarded as aimed at advancing and promoting modern methodology (“DGHRD” par. 2).
From the information presented above, it is obvious that our goals are challenging, and, in my opinion, my colleagues understand the significance of our work for the government. Indeed, it is us who ensures the influx of talent, knowledge, skills, and ideas into the government, and these resources are particularly valuable in the modern economic environment. As a result, I have always been proud to note the especially high level of motivation among my colleagues. However, as of recently, I have been noting the signs of uncertainty and confusion if not apathy among us. It is, most certainly, a sign of a deeper-rooted problem, and the reason could be found on the managerial level.
In this paper, the symptoms are going to be discussed to define the problem; the reasons for its existence will be described as well as its consequences and the causes of its persistence. According to Berman, “a good problem definition is one that incorporates the manifest symptoms and includes a set of viable strategies for leading the organisation forward” (40). Therefore, suggestions for improvement will be described to provide a proper problem definition. After that, the ideas for an organisational change strategy will be suggested and linked to the relevant theoretical research. They will be used to create a basic plan for the change in the context of the organisation and its issues.
Problem Definition: Symptoms and Causes
The most noticeable symptom of the current problem, as it has been noted, is the apathy exhibited by some of my colleagues. Personally, I am not discouraged yet, but I can feel a growing dissatisfaction with my job and my job opportunities. In conversations with the colleagues, I have brought the problem up, and the conclusion that it is possible to make consists in the suggestion that they experience similar dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction could be the reason for the apathy that, however, is not exhibited by every worker as far as I can see. Therefore, the root of the symptom is the growing job dissatisfaction among my co-workers.
There is a number of factors that influence job satisfaction, and it is very likely that different workers consider different of them to be significant. In fact, this specific feature of human resources could be the reason for the fact that not every one of my co-workers exhibits apathy. However, given the fact that there are several of us who experiences decreasing job satisfaction, it is possible to suggest that particular activity or strategy of our management is not adequate or suitable for us. Personally, I have the following suggestion concerning the reason for the decreasing desire to be involved and participate, which manifests itself in the form of apathy.
It would be expected of a human resource department management to realise the importance of human resources and the potential of the ideas that they can provide; however, I have noticed that initiative is not especially encouraged in my organisation or, at least, in the environment I contact with. Personally, I see a sign of significant human resource mismanagement in this respect, that is, the lack of seeking human resources out which is a variation of the problem #6, “missions are not being pursued,” as defined by Berman (30).
Obviously, pursuing goals without attracting an adequate amount of resources is an unreasonable line of action, and it is bound to affect the effectiveness of the organisation. However, given the specifics of the resource, this line of action has first manifested itself in a different form, that is, in the discouragement of the employees. Having realised that their initiative is not very welcome, some of them seem to have decided not to exhibit any. Others, who find it necessary to realise themselves through their work, have a growing dissatisfaction with their job. In general, all these factors are bound to lead to dissatisfactory results that are described in the following section.
The Consequences and Persistence
It is a well-known fact that human resources are particularly important to an organisation’s success (Sawang 248). While there are cultural specifics to the strength of the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance, it is a well-established fact that motivation and self-efficacy of employees are necessary for top achievements (Ng, Sorensen, and Yim 779-782; Cherian and Jacob 84-85). Consequently, creating a discouraging environment in which employees do not expect to make changes has naturally resulted in a decrease in their motivation. As such, the problem connected with the inadequate mission pursuing and resource seeking has led to job dissatisfaction and resulted in inadequate staff motivation due to the specifics of this kind of resource. It should be pointed out that the resources are available, but the managerial level does not appear to be interested in using them.
I believe that the primary reason for the problem persistence is the fact that currently, the “gap between expectations and reality” (that is necessary for a problem diagnosis) is rather small (Berman 23). It is difficult to discourage the highly-motivated workers like my colleagues, and while we can feel the change, it may be not noticeable to an outside viewer. Apart from that, as a colleague, I notice the decrease in the motivation among my co-workers, but I do not notice any kind of impact on the quality of their work yet. This could be one of the reasons for neglect from the managerial levels: a sign of the problem that would be noticeable to them has not yet appeared. Still, I tend to think that the decrease in motivation has already cost our organisation a number of ideas and improvements, and, as it progresses, it can begin to affect the quality of the work. This is why I think that the problem needs to be addressed.
Given the specific feature of the problem (its invisibility to upper managerial levels) I believe, we should make it visible. It is obvious that the view of the managerial actions and strategies can be very different for managers and their subordinates; in other words, it is the perception of managerial actions that matter for job satisfaction and motivation (Sawang 247-249). Consequently, I do not believe that the problem was caused deliberately and define the invisibility as a primary reason for its persistence. Managers did not receive (or, possibly, did not seek) adequate feedback from the subordinates, and we must change this. In case after that, the problem is not addressed, this plan will need revising since, in such a situation, the reason for the problem persistence will be changed to reflect managerial neglect.
One of the specifics of the work in an organisation like my own is the feeling of being useful and doing the right thing. Plain as it may seem, this is a perfect motivation in my book, and from what I see at the workplace, I am not alone in this opinion. To lose this reason for motivation, to annihilate it with human resource, mismanagement appears to be a most unreasonable if not sinful line of action. Right at the moment, the problem is almost invisible, and this fact appears to be the reason for its persistence. Still, if the problem is not addressed, it may cause much more harm than it is causing at the moment. Given the fact that the described problem is a variant of the issue of not pursuing the missions, the decrease of the effectiveness of mission achievement is to be expected. I believe that the problem should be addressed, and a more in-depth analysis of the situation should be performed by a team from our organisation to identify the actions that are necessary for the solution.
Organisational Change Strategy
Problem and Change Strategy Possibilities
To sum up, the problem of the organisation is the continuous human resource mismanagement that results in job dissatisfaction and the following apathy. Currently, there are no visible changes in the workers’ productivity, and, as a result, the managerial staff does not seem to notice the problem. It can be mentioned that according to Berman, a truly successful organisation change is caused by an acute crisis, a problem that demands the change (44). Still, it can be pointed out that, from the point of view of the employees, the crisis is in its acute (or, possibly, chronic) stage, which means that it needs to be treated as soon as possible.
While the managers may consider the evidence to be lacking, they would be expected to realise the importance of timely intervention. This is especially important in the light of the fact that the root of the problem lies in the mismanagement: the managers do not encourage initiative and participation among workers and, as a result, the latter do not feel like they can change anything. The aim of the organisational change strategy, therefore, is twofold: it is necessary to alter the attitude of the managerial staff and encourage the workers to participate. To design the strategy of achieving this aim, a number of theoretical works have been studied.
Apart from the system of performance challenges that have been defined by Berman, the present paper made use of the following theories and models.
Given the aim of transforming the management system, several theories are of interest for this report. First of all, participative management theory is necessary to promote. The ideas of limited participation can be traced to the transitional leadership theory, but it is the distributed and then horizontal leadership theories that have developed the notion of empowerment to its logical conclusion (Van Wart 557-561). As Beitler points out, the empowerment of employees is beneficial for their commitment and work quality; in the modern world, among its highly competitive industries, managers typically have to agree to the role of a facilitator rather than the controller (17).
Kouzes and Posner also demonstrate that the ability to guide by empowering does yield positive results for everyone involved, including the employees and the managers (21-29). Therefore, both theoretical background and practical experience show that participative management is much more effective than its alternative. Therefore, the aim of the change may include the goals of developing the understanding of participative management and the promotion of this idea in the organisation. In this respect, we should be ready to encounter the resistance of managers; this is the resisting force (in the terms of Lewin’s Forcefield Analysis) and it needs to be targeted (Beitler 12).
It should be also pointed out that the transformation of managers into empowering facilitators does not deprive them of their authority. In this respect, the appropriate leadership principle should be mentioned (Beitler 20). It is not unlikely for people to experience difficulties in searching for the equilibrium, and, to ensure the possibility of adjusting the results of the change, the action research (AR) model is going to be introduced. It is a model created within the field of organisational change research; it presupposes involving the members of an organisation into the process of change (Ott, Parkes and Simpson 409). The features of AR include the encouragement of constant revision of the results to eliminate the problems and exploit the opportunities.
This feature is very useful for the search of the balance. It should be also pointed out that an AR specialist is typically suggested for this kind of change (Beitler 23). An outsider would indeed be able to provide the team with an unbiased view of the situation and highlight the possibilities of a compromise. However, other features of the model are also appealing, especially in the context of the targeted problem. Indeed, in the case of AR, the objects of the research are simultaneously its subjects, who are capable of providing data and ideas that could not be created by an outsider. At the same time, the purpose of this organisational change is to encourage people to participate; therefore, AR will be a perfect framework for this change that is capable of providing both the necessary information and involvement.
Although the root of the problem lies in the management, the employees of other levels would also be expected to participate in the organisational change. Berman points out that the involvement of both the managerial level and the “critical mass of people” is needed for a successful change (44). In the case of this particular problem, the all-level involvement is crucial. Therefore, AR can be used for additional research and initial integration of the new management policies into the existing system.
Change Strategy Process
The key elements of the suggested strategy for management system reorganisation are relatively simple: they include the stage of teaching the managers the ideas of distributed management and the stage of providing them with the opportunity of training. However, since the second stage is expected to be combined with AR, it is decided to incorporate this strategy into the AR system, the stages of which are presented below.
- Gaining managerial support and creating the responsible team. The first stage is necessary for any change since it requires receiving the support of the management that, as it has been mentioned, would be expected to stay wary of this change. It will be necessary to convince the upper management to approve of the future research that will provide the evidence to the problem. The team should include people who are interested in the change to ensure their commitment; it may (and even should) include managers.
- Gathering information. As pointed out by Berman, information is essential to any change. The small research that I have carried out is not enough; therefore, another, a more consistent analysis is needed. It would require surveying of different levels; currently, I believe, short questionnaires could be helpful. Apart from providing the information about the current mood of the employees, the survey may and should be designed to encourage them to suggest ideas concerning the improvement.
- Determining or confirming the root of the problem. While I am almost certain that my choice of the root is correct, I do not exclude the possibility of another problem contributing to the current situation. Apart from that, additional problems can be singled out in the process.
- Developing a line of action. The ideas suggested by the employees throughout the first stage can be used for this one. In such a way, a more inclusive problem decision will be defined by the more inclusive planning stage. The line of action is expected to be modified according to the results of the first two stages. A suggested line of action can include the following options.
- Implementation and revision. It should be pointed out that the plan and its implementation should be aimed both at the managers and the workers since the first are supposed to include while the second are supposed to work to be included.
- Encouragements for employees to learn the publicly available information about the organisation to ensure the possibility of them making informed decisions. Possibly, relevant training that is expected to be facilitated by the managers.
- Training on distributed leadership among employees and managerial staff; possibly, conjoint for the two groups. Here is when the first step to the change of the current management system will be made. The second step is, technically, the whole process of the AR that should serve both as a demonstration of the participative management potential and a training opportunity for the managers. Indeed, the following steps will be carried out with the help of the managers, who will be expected to act more as the facilitators of the process than the controllers.
- Development of a forum where employees, as well as managers, may make suggestions about non-urgent decisions. It can (and probably should) be in electronic form; the discussion will be facilitated, not controlled, by the managers.
Obviously, all the measures should be based on voluntary participation. Apart from that, the line of action developed by the team in collaboration with employees and managers is bound to have other options, the most promising of which will be chosen.
Upon implementation, the process needs to be reviewed, assessed, and new changes to the human resources policies can be implemented when needed. Both managers and workers must be continuously provided with the information about the AR, which is a must for this kind of strategy. The managers need to be instructed to facilitate the inclusion of the employees as a part of the participative management training. The inclusiveness of the employees ensures the influx of ideas from them, which means that the revision may be aimed at testing an idea as well. The reviewing part of the strategy ensures its sustainability and increases the chances of finding the desired equilibrium for the new management system.
In this paper, the system of performance challenges of Berman has been used to define the mismanagement of human resources as the key problem of the organisation that is being researched. The mismanagement demonstrates that the resources are not being attained and, therefore, the missions are not being pursued. At the same time, the mismanagement results in the decreased initiative and motivation among the employees, which is bound to affect the performance of the company in the future. To avoid unwanted results, a strategy for management system improvement is suggested in this paper. The theories of distributed leadership and AR are the major guidelines for the suggested strategy; it is completed with the help of the system approach and forcefield analysis.
By providing the necessary knowledge and training for the managers, we intend to develop the culture of shared leadership in the company. The suggested AR is the framework, within which the managers will be able to apply the new knowledge in the training mode. Apart from that, the AR is expected to produce a more detailed view of the problem, provide the information concerning the progress of its resolution, and ensure the achievement of a balanced form of management. In case the suggested AR framework is successful, it may be adopted as a useful tool for organisational change in future. In the case of the organisational change is successful, the participation, job satisfaction, and commitment of the workers are supposed to increase while the managers are expected to realise the positive impact of distributed leadership and may also enjoy the possibility of delegating authority.
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