Diversity in the workplace is inevitable, and managing such diverse work groups is a difficult challenge for most managers. Most organizations concentrate on managing surface-level diversities and focus on improving the negative aspects of workgroups (Clifford, 2014). Recent study, however, shows that negative affective outcomes of surface-level observable differences seem to decrease over time. A focus on positive organizational behavior and deep-level diversity are thus advised(Lipman, 2014).
Maintaining the diversity is essential for creativity, variety and access to power. Such diversity, however, has affective costs to the organization. Groups tend to drive out diverse members and as such group management is critical (Frances J. Milliken, 1996). A positive approach to organizational behavior (POB) is one way of managing diversity. POB entails identifying and improving on the positive traits of individuals instead of on the negative behaviors. Fred Luthans outlines these traits as confidence or self-efficacy, hope, optimism, emotional intelligence, and happiness or subjective well-being. Luthans articulates that popular motivational books are positively oriented. Managers should thus incorporate the POB approach for performance improvement and development of corporate personnel (Luthans, 2002).
Deep-level diversities are variances in the psychological characteristics of employees. Surface level- diversities, on the other hand, are based on overt demographic characteristics like race, age, and sex(Debra Nelson, 2014). Surface level diversities can be managed by structuring rewards to best foster greater collaboration among team members. When rewards are dependent on team performance, individuals tend to integrate better into groups. The social integration of teams also plays a critical role in reducing deep-level divergences. This social integration also reduces the impact of perceived diversity (David A. Harrison, 2002). Managers are thus advised to maximize skills, abilities and knowledge differences while minimizing attitudinal, value-based and job-related differences.
Charlie and Sandra harbor many ill-feelings for each other. In dealing with the situation, there is a need to take into account the dominant defensiveness they exhibit. Both Sandra and Charlie want their ideas to be the ones implemented. They feel superior to each other, with Sandra wondering why she was not picked for the senior position. There is also a gender difference that has to be taken into account. Taking either Charlie or Sandra’s side will elicit feelings of favoritism for one gender. The two also suffer from goal incongruence. Charlie deems change as inevitable and necessary while Sandra opines that change will be disruptive. They also have a clash of cultures, with Sandra being a stickler to the status quo and Charlie progressive. Furthermore, the two have conflicting interests. Both of them want a senior position and will do everything to undermine the work and ideas of the other. Such a scenario is detrimental to company performance, which may explain their ineffectiveness despite being considered valuable by the enterprise.
In dealing with the situation, I will ask the two to come up with a detailed action plan that includes costs, benefits and consequences of their approaches. I will then institute a review committee headed by other members in my department and from outside that will decide on which approach is more viable. The option taken will be the one the department uses. However, I would select a taskforce to aid in the implementation of the other alternative, albeit on a small scale. The viability of both options will thus be tested on the market for a specified period. Whichever option shows better results will be the one implemented on a wider scale. I will then organize a departmental meeting between the three of us where we talk about the department’s performance, the possible reasons for the stagnant department profits and the way forward. Articulating the importance of working together for the benefit of the department and organization, and basing some of their advantages and rewards on team performance will force the two to work together.
Clifford, C. (2014, May 29). Managing People Is an Art: 32 Ways to Do it Right.
David A. Harrison, K. H. (2002, October 1). Time, Teams, and Task Performance: Changing Effects of Surface- and Deep-Level Diversity on Group Functioning. Academy of Management Journal, 45(5), 1029-1045. doi:10.2307/3069328
Debra Nelson, J. Q. (2014). ORGB 4. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Frances J. Milliken, L. L. (1996, April 1). Searching for Common Threads: Understanding the Multiple Effects of Diversity in Organizational Groups. Academy of Management Review, 21(2), 402-433. doi:10.5465/AMR.1996.9605060217
Lipman, V. (2014, June 09). 6 Tips For Managing People Who Are Hard To Manage.
Luthans, F. (2002, February 1). Positive organizational behavior: Developing and managing psychological strengths. Academy of Management Perspectives, 16(1), 57-72. doi:10.5465/AME.2002.6640181