In my previous position I was responsible for managing a small team of 8 in a high volume retail store. Due to the small team and high work volume, many of the team members had established a close friendship. This team comprised of a combination of new and original team members. This team brought both a combination of youth and enthusiasm, and maturity and professionalism to the team. Due mainly to the retail environment, the store has always had a high turnover of team members, but the store has always comprised a combination of both new and training team members and experienced team members.
A new team member was hired to fill a vacant position created by the departure of one of the team. This individual was a mid-twenties male university student that was to work three days a week. After two months of training, a situation arose where the new team member failed to turn up for their shift without advising anyone in the store. This situation was unacceptable but was caused by an unforseen accident. After this incident had occurred we were to go through training in the companies procedures to reinforce the absenteeism policy. With the knowledge of what was expected from him we had no more problems for about one month until the same situation occurred again. This time we were to conduct the same training as last time but the team member was to receive a verbal warning in regard to not following company procedure for absenteeism. With this training completed he agreed that his behaviour was unacceptable and he acknowledged that he understood what was required from him if he was unable to turn up for a shift.
This problem escalated while I was out of the country on annual leave for four weeks. While I was away this team member had been late to work on many occasions and had not turned up for his shift on a few occasions as well. This situation had caused a lot of problems with job motivation, productivity and satisfaction within the team. On arriving back to the store and realising the problems that had occurred while I was away, I called a meeting with this team member to discuss what had happened in that previous month. He was then disciplined for his behaviour through a written warning system. This absenteeism problem persisted until he was fired approximately a month later. This team member caused the departure of one senior team member. The team suffered from low job satisfaction, high absenteeism, low productivity, and low motivation both before and after his departure from the company. This situation created problems within the store for months after his departure.
Scenario Example 2
The following account is from when I was finance manager within shopping centre management. An event took place that caused the work environment and the group dynamic to change.
I had been working within the shopping centre management team for 2 years when head office relocated all of the centre managers. The manager, Stewart, had been there since the opening of the shopping centre, meaning that he had hired and trained everyone. Some had been working there for over 10 years. The team environment was supportive and Stewart had faith in our ability, allowing all departments to do their job while providing guidance. The new manager, Barry, was coming from a larger shopping centre on the Coast where major developments were planned. A hand over was never completed between Stewart and Barry and this meant that the team was not introduced to Barry until his first day. He arrived two hours late that day and continued to consistently arrive late and leave early which upset a number of individuals in the group. He originally only introduced himself to the four department managers. As I was the manager of the finance department he introduced himself to me but did not allow me to introduce him to any of my staff. He also appeared to favor me over many of the other staff, taking me out on lunches I had previously not been to and leaving behind the people who usually went. A number of my staff members made numerous comments to me over the following weeks about having never even spoken to Barry and feeling as though they didn’t exist. Barry made comments to the departmental managers having to move to a hick country town. He also immediately began to look for errors in everyone’s work under the guise of performance evaluations, with no communication to staff.
In addition to this, Barry took a dislike to the marketing manager Susan, which she speculated would be the case, based on comments from other marketing managers within the company. As a result the marketing department was offered little support and Barry began to withhold information from them. Consequently this resulted in Susan and Barry engaging in negative and ‘backstabbing’ behaviour. Staff began to side with the each of them, the feel of the office had been negatively impacted and people began to arrive late and leave early. A few, including Susan, began to contemplate resignation.
The events themselves outlined in the scenario have the ability to impact the individuals within the group. It is also evident that the motivation of the individuals, mainly through a lack of communication, has been affected. The most notable though, is the breakdown of a once cohesive group. By exploring the scenario I will discuss some actions that could have been taken to address these issues.
Scenario Example 3
Last year I was interviewed for the role of Queensland programs manager. I had become suspicious during my interview of the trouble that was going on in the programs team that I was about to join, due to the majority of questions asked were about how I would address conflict and performance management issues. However, I was assured by my new manager, Kym and that everything was fine.
I accepted the role that Kym was previously doing. I had a team of 5 direct reports. On my first day, Kym commenced in her new role of National Programs Manager. That morning, the human resources manager and Kym informed me that there were performance issues with 4 of my new 5 direct reports. The other project officer, Beth was seen as the favourite by Kym and she could do no wrong in Kym’s eyes. To compound the situation, there was conflict and bullying within the team. Beth and Carol did not speak to each other. Job satisfaction was low.
Kym’s perception was that Carol was not performing well. She believed Carol was incompetent. However, it was obviously that Kym did not personally like Carol, and she was jealous of her popularity and this appeared as to the real reason she wanted to terminate her employment.
Kym had already met with Carol to inform her that her job was on the line and that she was now on probation for 3 months. Kym also asked me to look for reasons to sack her.
Kym’s attempt to rectify this was to put Carol under a lot of pressure by meeting with her twice a week to examine her work and question each and every decision she had made. Carol could not understand why. This made her feel even more nervous and less confident. What made matters worse, was that the meetings were held in an office with glass windows where all the other staff could see what was going on. Carol would be in tears after every meeting.
Carol was highly motivated and valued her job. She believed this was her dream job. However she was extremely stressed and emotional (also due to currently undergoing IVF at the time), and felt she was being treated unfairly for no reason. Carol did not want to leave, as she felt that she had done no wrong.
Weeks later, Kym asked me to give Carol marching orders before 9:00am so she would be out of the building before the rest of the staff arrived, hoping for less disruption to the team. This backfired. Carol had taken longer than planned to gather her personal things and leave. On her way out, she bumped into a number of staff who were obviously upset that she been treated this way. At 10am, more than 20 staff members were consoling her on the street. The staff was angry, and Kym had to call a full staff meeting to explain. Carol never came back. I resigned 3 days later.