A Case Study on “Managing Like a Man at Silkqueen?”

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This is the case study on “Managing like a man at SilkQueen? ” by Kate Hutchings of Queensland University of Technology. Here we are given a character named Sally Dawson who works for SilkQueen, which is an Australian company. She is a well skilled manager who has a huge experience for working successfully in Asia. However, working in this company as a manager, she facing some problems, which lead her to take a decision whether she leaves the company or try to make some smart changes. For this case study, we are using four questions.
We answer all the four questions one by one respectively. In those, we try to figure out the problems faced by the employees and Sally, attitudes of the organization towards Sally, ways open for Sally. We also discuss about cross-cultural problems here. We also include a bibliography at the end. Company Profile SilkQueen is an Australian Company. Its’ main product is fabrics. It produces high quality fabrics and sell those throughout the world. SilkQueens’ manufacturing plants are situated in Sydney as well as in several locations throughout Asia.
This company started its’ business as a family-owned company in 1910 and it started its’ international operations in 1979. The workforce of SilkQueen always female-dominated but maximum times management has been male-dominated. Sally Dawson has been working for SilkQueen for many years and most of the time she was expending her times working in Asia. It should be noted that she is quite successful in her career. Recently she has been posted to Australia and she is facing some problems with her employees.

Although, the productivity is increased but the management is not quite satisfied with her work because the workers are neglected there. In this case study, we have to find out the problems faced by the employees and Sally and the probable solutions for those problems. For this purpose, we are using four questions. They are as follows: 1)From the perspective of the employees, what problems they are facing? 2)What are the problems faced by Sally and what could the organization have done to address her problems? 3)What could Sally do to improve her leadership style? )Why Sally’s leadership style is questioned in Australia and accepted in Asia? Now we are discussing the above questions with a view to analyzing the case study. Because of globalization and workforce diversity, the nature of management in an organization has considerably changed over the years. Nowadays, management is not only about exercising reasonable power using directive leadership but also about building relationships with employees, adapting leadership styles depending on situations, and working together with people from various cultural backgrounds.
To understand the management terrain in the various areas of organizational behavior mentioned above, the objective of this paper is to analyses the case study, ‘Managing like a man at SilkQueen? ’ and provide insights on the problems encountered by Sally Dawson, the employees and the organization at SilkQueen. The paper will first focus on perception stereotyping and dominance effect to explain how the employees perceive the situation and Sally’s leadership. The problems faced by Sally will be next looked into to understand how the organization could have helped in various areas.
Theories on improving leadership styles will be used to explain why Sally’s leadership approach is accepted in Asia but not in Australia. Question One: From the perspective of the employees, what problems they are facing? To recognize the problems met by the employees of SilkQueen, an analysis of their perception of the former line manager Mr. Wong will be compulsory. This is because the assessment of Sally by employees is partly based on comparison with Wong. According to the employees’ perception, Wong is an effective leader who is consultative, caring and concerned about their well-being.
He is seen as valuing employees’ opinion as he always asked what the employees think before he does anything. Unlike Wong, Sally does not walk around the factory floor or show concerns for her employees. She does not ask what the employees think before she implements anything. The employees therefore perceive Sally to be a poor manager who does not care about employees’ work condition and who buries herself ‘behind a high desk with her back to the door in an office two levels above’. These perceptions however may not be true.
According to organizational behavior scholars, ‘women are evaluated negatively when they adopt a stereotypically male leadership style and occupy traditionally male-dominated positions’. The employees in the case assume that Sally being a woman should be ‘nurturing and … care about their workers’ suggesting preconceived notions of how women should behave. This notion of stereotyping can result in misinterpretation of information because not all people are the same, and many in the same social category may demonstrate inconsistencies with the stereotype.
Question Two: What are the problems faced by Sally and what could the organization have done to address her problems? The first action by Sally in making a decision to change the work hours without consultation with the employees formed a lasting impression of her leadership, known as the primary effect the primary effect relates to a perceptual distortion which states that ‘first impressions are lasting impressions’ and once an inaccurate first impression is established, it is difficult for the perception to change even when new information contradicts the first impression.
The consequence of Sally’s non-consultative management style spells the beginning of a problematic relationship with her workers. Within three months after she took over line management, Sally is faced with considerable indifference and hostility from her subordinates. In addition to his pressure, Sally also has to ‘change the focus of her work’ when she took up the role of line management in the manufacturing operations-an area which she is unfamiliar with. Because of this, she has to work long hours with very little time for social life, resulting in increased stress.
Sally’s problems and stress could have been substantially reduced if the organization has played a supportive role. A good organization should first assess its manager’s strengths and weaknesses before assigning new roles. This may be done through a structured interview process or through research and information gathering with the objective to understand two areas of managerial competencies- past behavior to predict future behavior, and recent behavior to predict distant past behavior.
By understanding Sally’s former experiences and roles, the organization can then decide whether to assign her to another area of to send her to a leadership development program such as the leadership grid to train her in evaluating task-oriented and people oriented leadership to work out a style best suited for her new role. Question Three: What could Sally do to improve her leadership style? Notwithstanding this fact, however, Sally should cultivate her emotional intelligence to monitor her own and others’ feeling and emotions to guide her thinking and action.
According to behavioral theories by Ohio state studies and University of Michigan studies, there are primarily two categories of leadership: people oriented, and task-oriented. The behavioral studies propose a managerial grid based on a manager’s ‘concern for people’ and ‘concern for production’, which ideal grid position rates the manager as performing best when the style of leadership is high on people and task dimensions. In the case of SilkQueen, Sally could improve her leadership style by adapting a more people-oriented behavioral approach.
To influence her subordinates, she could consider using contingency leadership ‘based on the idea that the most appropriate leadership style depends on the situation’. Theories of contingency leadership that Sally could use include Hersey-Blanchard situational theory, house’s path-goal theory, and Vroom-Jago leadership participation theory. The Hersey-Blanchard situational theory proposes that effective leadership is dependent on the followers. This means that regardless of what the leader does, it is the actions or acceptation of the followers that decide the effectiveness of the leader.
This theory suggests that the leader should change his or her leadership style according to the maturity of the followers and the situation. Situational theory combines task and relationship behaviors and identifies four specific leadership styles: telling, selling, participating and delegating. Based on the maturity of the followers, each of the relevant four styles is used by the leader to respond to the employees by gradually declining control over activities and relationship behavior.
For example, when an employee is new to the organization, the leader should use the style of telling the follower what to do, giving clear and specific directions. Depending on the maturity stage of the follower, alternative styles such as selling the leader’s ideas, participating in decision-making, or delegating responsibilities to the follower may next be used. In the case of SilkQueen, using the situational theory approach would have helped Sally understand that leadership is dependent on the followers and the way to lead followers is dependent on situations and levels of maturity.
Instead of telling the employees, Sally could use the method of selling and participating in implementing the change of work hours. The path-goal theory developed by Robert House is another contingency theory model that Sally could employ in improving her leadership style. The theory suggests that an effective leader is one who can influence employee satisfaction and performance by making their need satisfaction contingent with the overall objectives of the group or organization. Four styles of effective leadership are indentified in this model: directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-oriented.
A directive leader lets subordinates know what is expected, giving directions on what to do and how, while a supportive leadership shows concern for the needs of subordinates. A participative leader consults with subordinates and involves them in decision making, while an achievement-oriented leader sets the goals and expects subordinates to perform at their highest level. Using the path-goal theory, Sally could effectively change the perception of her subordinates by building a people oriented behavioral approach through the use of a more supportive and participative leadership style instead of an achievement-oriented leadership.
The third model of contingency theory that could be used by Sally is the Vroom-Jago leader participation theory. This theory developed by Victor Vroom and Alfred Jago takes a contingency approach to determine the optimal level of employee involvement depending on the situation. It proposes choosing the best decision making method for any problem situation through alternatives such as individual or authority decision, consultative decision, group or consensus decision.
The model considers five levels of employee participation based on a decision tree ranging from autocratic at the top to team consensus at the bottom. Following the leader-participation theory model, Sally could evaluate the level of participation required by her in choosing the optimal level of employee involvement. Instead of using the top two levels of the decision tree, that proposes autocratic decision-making. Sally could use the bottom three levels of consultative and group decision in her approach. Question Four: Why Sally’s leadership style is questioned in Australia and accepted in Asia?
As can be seen in the theories discussed above, one of the traits required of an effective leader is adaptability of leadership styles in varied situations. Adapting styles to situations however is not an easy task especially in organizations today where employees are made up of people from different cultures across national and regional boundaries. In the case of SilkQueen, it is apparent that Sally’s leadership is seen as questionable in Australia, but appropriate in Asia because of cross-cultural perspectives.
This underlying cultural value may be translated as power distance, uncertainty, avoidance, individualism versus collectivism, achievement versus nurturing orientation, and long-term versus short-term orientation according to Hofstede’s dimensions of national culture. Using Hofstede’s framework as the guideline to cross-cultural comparison in SilkQueen’s case study, employees in Australia may be seen as high in individualism, high on social obligations and traditions, but moderately low in power distance.
This rating vastly differs from countries in Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and China. In Indonesia, individual goals are seen as less important than collective goals. In Malaysia, power distance ranks high while in China the future is emphasized more than tradition or social obligations. Based on the ranking described above, it is easy to understand why Sally’s task oriented leadership style is questioned in Australia but accepted in Asia. According to Hofstede’s framework, Australia is more inclined to meeting individual goals than group goals and expects relatively equal power sharing.
In Asia, power distance is generally high, which means that receiving commands from superiors are commonly accepted. Conclusion Throughout the discussion in this paper, the studies of organizational behavior have been primarily focused in four areas: perception, leadership styles, leadership assessment, and cross-cultural behaviors. The perception of leadership based on stereotype and primacy effect can present inaccuracies and incorrect information of a situation or a person.
A manager who wants to be effective must cultivate emotional intelligence and be flexible to adapt different leadership styles depending on the situation. A good organization must first assess its leaders to understand past behavior to predict future behaviors and bridge the gap of its leaders through leadership grid training. To manage a global organization, the leader must understand the differences in cross-cultural values across different parts of the world. Bibliography: Robbins, P. Stephen, Judge, A. Timothy. Organizational Behavior Luthans, Fred. Organizational Behavior

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