Organizational Behavior in Business Environment

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Introduction

Every organization has a way of doing things that are based on its values, goals, beliefs, norms of behavior and visions. This is what is commonly referred to as corporate culture. On the other hand, organization is a state of order guided by policies of a firm, efficient communication and the structure of management. This part of the assignment will therefore analyze the corporate culture and organization of USA Today with Tom Curley as its president. USA Today is among the top most popular newspapers with a wide readership in America together with others like Washington Post and Time. Like any other organization, USA Today has its own unique culture that affects the way it delivers news, quality of service to their customers and the behavior of employees. Actually, it is no unique organization since it has since faced challenges like high employee turnover, scandals and a drop in readership. These have been caused by various reasons both within and outside the organization as will be discussed in this assignment. Some of the major challenges that have arisen are the defect of the management structure, lack of effective communication in the lines of leadership, high employee turnover, a decrease in readership scale, scandals committed by some employees thus affecting the image of the newspaper and the executive editors. However, despite all these challenges, USA Today has been known to achieve record high profits, especially the online section, due to the introduction of a strategy that was created by the former President, Tom Curley. This strategy helped the organization withstand market challenges while other newspaper organizations were facing decreased readership and a decline in profit margin.

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Management of Ability

The ability of employees is their tendency to perform tasks due to a skill they possess. Ability in an organization can be managed by assigning jobs that would require the utilization of such abilities to employees who possess them. USA Today has employees that are creative and talented in different areas such as interviewing, broadcasting, video shooting and writing web content. All these are abilities that need to be managed by the management of USA Today in order for the organization to capitalize on its human resources thus improve on performance and productivity.

High turnover rate in USA Today has been caused by many factors. First of all, the environment of USA Today has been said to be surrounded by fear which is said to be caused by insults employees receive whenever they report instances of incompetence by other writers to the management. For example, the famous scandal of Jack Kelley, a reporter who seemed untouchable since he had connections with executives in the organization, was known for committing plagiarism and inventing stories and quotes. When the staff reported him to the editors, they were instead answered with insulting comments and warned. This raised the question of accountability in the organization. Moreover, the executives in the News section had the intention of improving the appearance of the newspaper and to eliminate journalists who did not reach the level of journalists who were qualified. They would achieve this by carrying out annual reviews and setting of goals whose bars would be raised continuously. Journalists who were found to lack the required skills and talent faced intense pressure which created an environment of fear. This resulted in a high employee turnover. In addition to that, some of the employees were worried since they thought they would not attain the performance level aimed by the annual reviews thus some of these employees have been quoted to be blaming the leaders for the declined performance with some quitting after they could not withstand the pressure.

Tom Curley came up with a network strategy in USA Today while he was still the president. This involved the creation of three entities (online, television and newspaper sections) with each having its own leaders while at the same time ensuring that there was a tight integration in the senior positions. This was a creation of an ambidextrous organization with the interest of exploitative and exploratory business. The culture of exploitative business was to ensure efficiency, offer quality services to the customers and it involved low risk. On the contrary, exploratory business had a culture of risk taking, highly paced; trying out experiments on the market and it was also flexible. When Jack Kelley was accused of a prolonged stay in the organization despite complaints about his job, the culture in USA Today was accused for his delayed exit. Such a culture was about laxity especially the editorial team and newsroom section, insufficient communication among the staff, inconsistent rules governing the use of confidential sources, and an environment surrounded with fear (McCoy, 2004).

Organizational Commitment

Affective commitment can be defined as the emotional attachment an employee develops towards an organization that leads to identification with the membership of an organization (Allen and Meyer, 1990). Continuance commitment on the other hand, is the consistency of employees in their job that maintain a full awareness of the costs that they will incur if they leave the particular job (Becker, 1960). Some of the employees of USA Today have demonstrated a continuance of commitment while the ones who are still talented and gain recognition have shown an affective commitment. The satisfaction of employees will determine whether or not they will be committed to the organization they are working for. It is evident that one of the factors that resulted in the high employee turnover was dissatisfaction. Therefore, the determinant of both affective commitment and continuance of commitment is job satisfaction.

Job Satisfaction

Employees are normally satisfied with their work if they are paid well, achieve record performances, are given the ability to make decisions and if they are in a position to enjoy the working environment. Therefore, management of an organization should see to it that employees’ grievances are always addressed, engage them in dialogue in order to facilitate effective communication, enable a good working environment by establishing a climate of relaxation instead of fear of authority. This way, they will be in a position to feel satisfied.

The online group is known to have a team of young, energetic and highly paced individuals. The introduction of the ambidextrous organization resulted in the segregation of the online department from the print section. This had a negative impact on the section in that they ran out of cash, most their talented staff quit therefore, their results began to decline. The online group has a lot of tasks to perform such as thus explaining the huge amount of workload. The on line’s turnaround time has been slow and therefore it resulted to a partnership of USA Today with Rightslink in order to improve on its turnaround time.

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Organizational Ethics

This is the response of an organization towards its external and internal stimulus (George & Jones, 2004). External stimulus is the response coming from outside the organization; which may be the readers of the newspaper, critics, both governmental and nongovernmental organizations who may be reacting to the news that has been published and refuting claims made by the newspaper. On the other hand, internal stimulus is the response as a result of management rules and regulations on employees, the response to the way of leadership and how it is communicated, the reaction resulting from satisfaction or dissatisfaction of employees.

The kind of ethical issues that have arisen in USA Today are scandals that have been caused by publishing of reports that are from confidential sources despite the policies that govern the use of confidential sources. This policy has been known to be adjusted in favor of individuals that are in high ranks in the USA Today. One such example is Jack Kelley who committed plagiarism and used confidential sources in his articles. The management formed close ties with this individual making him seem way above the rules in the organization; which indicates that he defied the code of ethics in the organization. The insults towards employees by editors have also been an ethical issue.

The impact of these issues with other departments in USA Today is that there has arisen fear of the untouchable figure of Jack Kelley with the accountability of the editorial department being questioned over the scandal. It has also resulted in miscommunication in the different departments with some employees deciding to work for other media houses.

Job Design and Goal Setting

Job design, in simple terms, is specifying job content in order to reduce job dissatisfaction while goals are the set terms that organizations set in order to achieve growth. Job design answers the question of whether employees are committed, if they have pride regarding their work, absenteeism, their level of productivity and whether they are responsible enough in carrying out their daily duties. Many organizations employ job design in order to boost productivity by giving rewards through the use of job design. Looking at the online group job design, their mere segregation into a different department meant that the jobs that the employees would be allocated to would be more specific; that is, they would only deal with online jobs. Job design took place by assigning employees specific tasks to accomplish. In the long run, it was evident that the use of job design paid off since they achieved maximum profits from the use of internet as other online newspapers were going down. What this means is that the employees were most likely satisfied with their work and hence, their productivity increased putting the newspaper in record high profits. The employees working for the print media were also trained in writing web content and handling cameras making them all round. Tom Curley also changed the Human Resource practices by setting goals for each section which if achieved; rewards would be given to specific employees. In order for management to see to it that the set goals are achieved, it should have the provision of rewards such as bonuses for employees to feel motivated to do more thus improving in productivity. Therefore, this means that there was a clear strategy for goal setting since the results of the online group speak for itself.

Performance appraisal

By definition performance appraisal is the evaluation of employees performance by a leader such as the manager, based on the quantity of work done, quality and cost. The aim of an organization to carry out a performance appraisal is to consider the employees that should be promoted, given pay rises or bonuses, know the general performance of employees and enable the organization to establish the kind of employees that require training. In the long run, the management together with all the employees will be able to communicate efficiently.

Employees become more motivated and challenged to achieve better results when they are recognized and given an opportunity to make decisions and dialogue. An efficient way of appreciating performance is by rewarding efforts of the best performing employee through for instance, gift packages. The other way is by promotions, compensations and transfers within the media departments. This way, the performance and productivity of employees will rise; giving the organization benefits of explosive growth and, therefore, ensures the retention of employees.

Pay

This can be used as an incentive to reward efforts of employees when they meet targets that were set in the different department. By doing this, the management of the organization can be assured of employee motivation to do more and improve on their performance. For employees who achieve good results in the various media sections, they can be given bonuses in order to integrate the various media sections. A performance appraisal can also be utilized in organizations in order to know whether the time is right for a salary increase. In essence, pay increase will definitely motivate employees to be more productive.

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Career Development

In order for Tom Curley to achieve his vision for the network strategy, he came up with three entities under the same organization but having a tight integration in the management levels (Hilliard, Covach & Seigenthaler, 2004). The separated sections were the newspaper, online and television sections. Tom replaced the leader of the online group with an executive who had a deep interest in the network strategy. Also, the reports working for the newspaper underwent training in order to gain knowledge on how to handle cameras and do web and television broadcasting in order to increase the readership of the newspaper. In order for the organization to have a common vision he released executives who did not offer support of this strategy and introduced targets for all three sections, the employees would be offered bonuses. Furthermore, human resource practices were modified so that employees would be transferred from one unit to the other. For employees who demonstrated the willingness to share content of their stories they were promoted and given compensations of different kinds and rewards given to employees with outstanding accomplishments. These were the motivational areas that Tom Curley banked on in his pursuit to seeing USA Today grow. He demonstrated career development by training reporters to do broadcasting in the television and online. Furthermore, the career development of editors seemed difficult since the line of authority was only one. Therefore, in order to effect career development, the management should carry out the implementation of career activities in order to bring about growth.

The three sections of USA Today gave rise to different the creation of cultures and subcultures and different working systems. Due to the different sections created, each section has to organize itself in such a way as to facilitate achieving set goal and objectives and harmony in working together. It is here that the importance of team work comes in so that the employees can improve on performance and productivity forming a strongly integrated team. Such teams can organize themselves in such a way that each team or work group has a leader who oversees the activities of his or her group and at the same time formulate goals that need to be achieved at a specified span of time. An ambidextrous organization like USA Today has demonstrated differences in the various media that were created by Tom Curley as will be discussed in this report. In order to strictly follow the strategy that he created, the leaders that determine the integration of the various sections should look into ways of achieving the goals of the strategy. Ways on how this will be achieved should be stipulated clearly.

Work Groups / Teams

By definition, a work group is made up of individuals who do their work like a team by being interdependent as they pursue a common goal or objective. These work groups sometimes work in the different departments but in most cases the management places them in the same department for purposes of integration.

Initially, the differences that arose in USA Today when the network strategy was introduced was in the leadership level; whereby, the leaders of some departments were not in support of the strategy therefore resulting in different pursuits of their department’s objectives. Tom Curley saw this as an impediment towards achieving its goals and thus decided to eliminate such leaders and keeping the ones who were really interested in the strategy in charge. This resulted in the introduction of team work since the remaining employees would be more dedicated to performing and achieving departmental goals. Moreover, the introduction of bonuses will encourage more integration of these teams. Therefore, in order to achieve a good working environment with focused employees and eliminate the divisions that may arise in the various departments, group work needs to be promoted.

Leadership

In order for Tom Curley to improve on decrease the tangible difference that are evident in the media divisions, he should introduce a leadership team that is interested in seeing the organization grow to achieve its set goals by following the conditions of the network strategy. The goal for attaining recognition and popularity led the leaders in the editing department to meet all mornings in order to decide what the story on the cover page would be. This resulted in a struggle for recognition with other editors complaining that they were being sidelined. Some of the editing leaders also complained that their work was being delayed when these meetings were taking place. However, the introduction of a new executive leader led to the elimination of the bullpen. It seemed clear that the organizational structure of USA Today promoted a deficiency in accountability and leadership skills. There was an effective communication of the vision since it was noted that Tom Curley stressed that there should be a strong integration of the senior most leadership of the three new sections (O’Reilly & Tushman, 2004). He clearly set targets for each section by stating that there would be rewards for the accomplishment of these targets. However, there are challenges that face this strategy. It can be clearly noted that there are leaders who are not interested or committed to the strategy and this could be a cause for disintegration. Therefore, since it is the goal of Tom Curley to strengthen integration especially in the leadership of the three organizations, he has opted to fire the leaders who seem disinterested in commitment. He has taken a step further to introduce new leaders who demonstrate a deep interest in the organization and also in the strategy. This is an effective step towards achieving organizational objectives, performance, strong team work and increase in production.

Communication

This is the dissemination of information to employees through various means; for example meetings, memos, letters and announcements. The communication plan was not put in writing but it was only addressed by the leader to the employee on the importance of a strong leadership team in the success of such an organization. The communication system of this organization seems to be defective in that the management, especially the editing team, is not committed to eliminate mistakes made by reporters such as scandals. There have also been opportunities that have been missed for one-on-one communication especially in the newsroom section. The news managers should therefore work towards improving this insufficient communication since the newspaper is a wide readership scale and hence achieve the set network strategy.

Conclusion

USA Today being an ambidextrous organization has its roles to play in strengthening the management structure in order to enable it to remain as the most popular and widely read newspaper. This essay has shown that the dissemination of information to its employees needs to improve and that for it to reverse the high employee turnover, it needs to ensure that all its employees are satisfied with their work because it is determinant of whether or not employees will be committed to their work. Since there has been a creation of cultures and subcultures in each of the three sections created, the leadership of these sections should therefore have the skills of managing this diversity of cultures. To manage the rising ethical issues in this organization the employees should be encouraged to adhere to the organization’s policies and regulations. In addition to that, USA Today needs to have a clear strategy for goal setting while at the same time formulate a performance appraisal in order to retain the employees that resign. The use of incentives is an upper hand in the integration of the various media available in the organization. Also, the organization needs to engage more of its employees in career development and facilitate growth. The management of the organization also needs to appreciate the strength of team work, leadership skills especially in the senior levels and the advantage of efficient communication from the management to the employees. If the management of USA Today considers these factors in the running of this organization, then it can be assured of an efficient and productive working team that achieves set targets and goals.

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Reference

Allen, N. J., & Meyer, J. P. (1990). The measurement and antecedents of affective, continuance, and normative commitment to the organization. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 1-18.

Becker, H. S. (1960). Notes on the concept of commitment. American Journal of Sociology, 66, 32-42.

George, M.J. & Jones, R.G. (2004). Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior. United States of America: McGraw Hill.

Hilliard, B., Kovach, B., & Seigenthaler, J. (2004). The Problems of Jack Kelley and USA Today. Web.

McCoy,D., (2004). Panel Finds USA Today Culture Allowed Reporter’s Deception To Unchallenged. USA Today. Web.

O’Reilly, C.A. & Tushman, M.L., (2004). The Ambidextrous Organization. Harvard Business Review. Web.

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