April 29, 2011

The Men’s Wearhouse, Advanced Change Theory and Organization Silence

Posted in BADM 720 tagged , , , , at 12:04 pm by Sarah

The Men’s Wearhouse reading paints a very rosy picture of life in the retail clothing industry.  Quotes from executives and middle managers are all about the fun resort trips and touchy-feely training meetings.  The one thing that I really liked was the idea that the best individual players don’t necessarily make up the best team.

Reading about the company’s philosophy on how they treat and mentor their employees was difficult for me.  My experience in retail has left me with a sort of cynical view of the industry.  I couldn’t help feeling like I was reading a lot of empty words.  But maybe it’s unfair of me to project my own past trauma onto the reading.

The Quinn, Spreitzer and Brown article on Advanced Change Theory was a very heavy read, though not the worst so far.  The biggest point here is that if you want to change your organization, you can’t just order it so and have it done.  You have to first change yourself if you want the fundamental spirit of change to be there in your organization.  I definitely agree with this, and with the steps lined out for clarifying your values, aligning your behavior to match and disregarding any penalties threatened from without.

Finally, the article on Organizational Silence hit a soft spot in me.  I have been in workplaces described precisely by this reading, and to get out of bed and drag yourself to a job like that every day is no less than soul-crushing.  Dramatic, yes, but that’s exactly how it felt at the time.

March 31, 2011

Extra Reading for Chapter 11

Posted in BADM 720 tagged , , at 12:59 pm by Sarah

This reading was all about the social and psychological changes that afflict people finding themselves in positions of authority, particularly those who become deans in colleges.  I can’t say that I have much personal experience on this topic, never having known any deans personally, but I have definitely seen both good and bad examples of what happens to individuals when they are given power over others.

I’ve seen an employee at a chain pizza store be promoted to shift manager and suddenly start bossing people around unnecessarily while slacking off in the back office.  I’ve seen department store managers who are so bogged down in the logistic details of scheduling shifts and meeting quotas that they lose sight of what the business is actually trying to accomplish.  I’ve seen an entire workforce of employees who were given various promises in their interviews that were never delivered.

On the other hand, I have also seen professors take on the department chair position, without wavering on their commitment to education.  I’ve had direct supervisors who remember what it was like to be in an entry-level position at the company, and show it by looking out for their employees.  I do agree with the author that it takes a special kind of person to use the power they are given for good, but I like to think that those special people are less rare than they are given credit for.