Background to the case study
This paper is a report on a study taken to analyze the various aspects of any organisation in the fire and rescue business.
Maxim Fire and Rescue Services is a company based in Nairobi, Kenya. The organisation was started in late 2005. The organisation is in its growth stages and is still new in the market. It is a private company. The company has an estimated five hundred employees.
PESTLE is an acronym that represents “Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors”. Pestle analysis entails auditing a firm’s external environmental factors. This analysis is backed up by an assumption that if the organisation does the study, because of the information collected and analyzed they will have an upper hand over their competitors when it comes to adjusting to changes (Aguilar, “Scanning the business environment”).
In the political aspect, the laws governing the service industry matter like tax issues. The environmental regulations also affect what the organisation can or cannot use, which means Maxim fire and rescue services watches the fuel they use to avoid pollution. The political atmosphere also dictates whether the business will thrive or not. The business will not go on, as usual, anymore because of insecurities. A clear example is the post-election clashes that occurred in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2007.
Economical factors affecting a fire service company like Maxim would be the growth rate in a country and the implications of such. They have to cater for the costs of maintaining their facilities, sustaining their employee body and having enough to run the business.
As a company, they have to be aware of the norms and expectations of society. They have to respect them so they influence the potential customers’ choices. The only thing that is constant in the world is change, and even that has recently developed new rates. Every two years there is a new and more efficient way of doing things. Maxim has to be apt in all the technologies involving fire fighting and rescues.
The environmental aspect involves global standards in operating the business and the ecological concerns put forward. This could be the use of environment-friendly equipment, biodegradable or recyclable.
Analysis of the role of individuals and teams within organisations
Individuals within organisations
The cognitive approach entails a person behaving in line with their principles in determining what is right and what is not from instructions. It includes self-management and self-verbalisation. Behaviouristic is more about conditioning and how a person is instructed to do things in a certain way. They do it until they do not need supervision to do it anymore but will require great effort to change their pattern of behaviour. Reinforcement is a way of rewarding good deeds. It motivates workers and fosters positive competition. Punishment is rewarding bad deeds. It could be a pay reduction for lateness. The management will note the change by doing assessments occasionally to monitor worker’s behaviour.
By knowing the personalities of the employees they can also know their strengths and weaknesses and assign jobs accordingly. There are four major types of personalities: Phlegmatic. These are the thoughtful type; they are the cool calm and collected types in the office. They always have their work done on time and respect other’s opinions. The Melancholic are the kind of people everyone likes to avoid at the workplace. They are mostly moody and pessimistic. They are also very rigid. The Choleric is more aggressive. They are the competitive type and are very impulsive. Lastly, the Sanguines are everyone’s favourite in the office, they are fun to be with and are good leaders (Miller, Matrix Psychology).
Managers can assess personalities by analyzing quality accomplished works.
There are several communication barriers; among others is the poor flow of information from managers to employees. This could be because of a lack of an effective system in delivering information. Another hindrance could be unhealthy relationships at the workplace.
Managers can inhibit this by maintaining personal contact when delivering instructions and reducing dependency on technology: e-mails and phones. When they pass on the information personally, they can be able to assess worker’s reactions (Shawn par. 5).
They should seek to establish clarity in the understanding of instructions before they walk out of briefing rooms. For Maxim this means clear directions to avoid confusion or lateness.
This works both ways; the management should seek feedback from workers on the assignments given and give meaningful feedback at the end of assignments. For instance, when the employees come back from a rescue mission the managers could have a sit-down, go through the vitals of the case, and discuss adjustments. Managers amidst their busy schedules should always find time to have meetings with employees where they should give them undivided attention by not allowing interruptions like phone calls.
The perceptions people get of others in a workplace could be bad or pleasant and how they choose to express them is critical. The organisation could encourage employees to be tactful in handling such. Perceptions of a workplace will also determine how motivated a person will be (Spears, “Perception and conflict in the workplace”).
Motivation is the drive that one has towards the accomplishment of a certain task. Abraham Maslow had a theory that all humans have needs and that they are motivated by different factors at every stage of life (Maslow, Maslow’s theory of motivation). Until these needs are fulfilled, they stay unmotivated. The lower needs have to be fulfilled before the higher ones are. His model of the hierarchy of needs starts with the biological or the physiological needs, which are basic needs like food air, water, warmth, sex, sleep. In the satisfaction of these needs, the company can pay salaries on time so the employees can fulfil such and give enough time for employees to have breaks and rejuvenate.
The second level of needs is safety needs. These are the financial security concerns and protection. The management can fulfil this by providing job security.
The third is the social needs; they come from a deep need for belongingness. Maxim makes the employees work in close teams. They become accountable to each other this way.
The fourth category of needs is esteem needs, they arise from a deep-seated desire to be recognised in their fields and achievements. The employees at this point appreciate titles more. The leadership has to make sure they recognize the efforts made by any employee in their work.
The final sets of needs are the self-actualisation needs. At this point, it is more about how challenging the work is to the individual. The management can give assignments that call for creativity and indulgence.
Teams within organisations
Formal groups are the official teams that the managers come up with to run the organisation. They are the structures put in place for easy delegation. Informal groups are those that employees come up with within themselves based on opinions, attitudes and preferences. In every group, there is a leader and then the subordinates. There should be a clear job description. It helps in easy decision-making.
There are three basic types of teams. The first is the project team. This is assembled when there is a particular project at hand. The second is the Cross-functional, which is a collection of people from different departments of the firm. The last one is the self-directed which has monopoly on the decisions it makes. It also has the financial backing to implement the decisions. In a fire-fighting company, setting the cross-functional team will be the leaders of the various teams that head different shifts.
There are three types of management: the upper management (directors and the senior managers), the middle management (assistant managers and executives), and the lower management (officers and the senior officers).
The organisational strategy has to factor in the type of leadership structure in use to avoid conflict of interest and for easy decision-making.
Organisation processes and development
For an organisation to grow they have to be open to new ideas and creativity. Interactions with other organisations in the business are essential to learning new developments. Investing in journals weekly or monthly also helps in gathering information.
In Schein’s explanation of culture, he says there are three levels of culture. The artefacts, which are the physical attributes. The values are the attitudes of the various personalities in the organisation, the behaviours owned by different people. It is more about the personal values and the organisational values interacting. The third is the tacit assumptions, which is culture about the unseen elements that represent the different people. It is more about the unspoken rules in the organisation (Schein, Organisational culture and leadership).
Culture is a way of life, as one perceives it. It is shaped by the values people pick along the way as they develop in society.
All managers have a choice in the selection of leadership strategies. They are the scientific approach, the excellence, the value leadership perspective the trust culture, or the Whole soul approach.
Scientific management theory explains that the management is only interested in establishing the strategies that it may use for delivery in the business. In the second approach, excellence is crucial and the management directs its resources in making sure the people concerned in making the products or delivering services do that to the best of their ability. The third theory places importance on the nature of the relationship between the leader and the subordinate (sharing of vision). In a trust culture, which is the fourth theory, the focus is on the subordinates and how they relate with the leadership and colleagues. Trust is vital. The last perspective is very spiritual and it entails the management is aware that the spiritual being of the led is what they interact with. In that, the personal lives of the followers relate very closely with what the leadership interacts with at the workplace. In this theory, emphasis is laid on the core of the person, the self-drive the acceptance and how their attributes are what the leadership seeks to guide (Fairholm, p.578).
Decision-making is the responsibility of the different types of management. They can however choose to delegate the simple ones to junior management. This makes it easier for them so they get to deal with the real issues at hand.
Conflicts arise when there is a clash of ideas, opinions, or interests. Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann have suggested the following approaches. The first is a competitive way. This is where one takes a solid stand on their decision. It is a selfish way to deal with conflicts that leave people disappointed and resentful. The second way is to approach it in a collaborative way where one considers the needs of the other people involved. This is used when the matter is too critical to be ignored. The third is accommodating; the person lets the other party have their way maybe because the matter is of more importance to them. The fourth is compromising, here the decision arrived at should favour both parties partially, they find a common ground. Finally, one can simply avoid the conflict by delegating to someone with better knowledge on how to handle it. This method is discouraged (Mindtools.com, Conflict resolution).
Power and politics
Office politics are inevitable. The management has to be careful to monitor such activities. When they get out of hand, they can be a big negative blow on the image of the company.
In conclusion, it is essential for any organisation whether in the service industry or not to keep track of the organisational components of their companies in check to avoid failures in management. The internal and external environments of an organisation are all required to be in harmony for peaceful existence even in such an inconsistent world.
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Schein, Edgar. (Organisational Culture and Leadership, 3rd Ed., Jossey-Bass.1985 -2005 ISBN 0-7879-7597-4. Web.
Smith, Shawn. Next level consulting. “Remove your workplace communication barriers: they are costing you more than you think!” 2003. Web.
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