Organization behaviour: culture and leadership impact Case Study Matt’s Motivational Misery Matt…

Organization behaviour: culture and leadership impact

Case Study

Matt’s Motivational Misery

Matt Sokkov considers himself to be an average guy. He likes a drink with his mates after work; he works fairly hard at his job most days; and, most people seem to get on well with him. But there are two people that drive him crazy: one of his workmates and his boss.

Matt is a detective in a NSW police department in an area in Sydney’s inner-west suburbs. He graduated from the University of Saint Petersburg ten years ago when he was twenty-five. After completing his undergraduate degree in Criminology, he immediately immigrated to Australia, leaving his family behind in Moscow. Upon moving to Sydney, he instantly fell in love with Australia’s relaxed lifestyle, which contrasted sharply with the high intensity of trying to exist and compete with just about everyone in Russia.

He works in a team of five people on cases ranging from homicide to missing persons. Like most people, Matt gets along with most of his team and has good relationships with them. Except, of course, with his work colleague – Jack Singleton. They have recently been assigned to work on a case together, and after two interviews with witnesses, Jack has gone out on his own, without letting Matt know, to conduct further interviews with other potential witnesses. He also scheduled two meetings with members of the Prosecutor’s office, and even had some off-the-record conversations with an officer who is a close friend of some journalists. Matt found out about all this when he accidentally came across the documentation that Jack had put into the case notes (Matt was looking for something else on the system) and through an after-work drinks chat with other members of the force.

Jack is very different from Matt. Where Matt prefers to wear Hawaiian shirts to interviews with witnesses, Jack prefers to wear a tailored suit; where Matt will leave early on a Friday afternoon to have a beer at the pub, Jack will drink boutique wine at home; where Matt gets excited about working on projects that he feels passionate about, Jack gets excited about working on projects that will lead to publicity, power, or promotion. Jack thinks that Matt is an amateur and that he will go nowhere. Matt thinks that Jack is manipulative, power-hungry and Machiavellian. Matt’s impression of Jack isn’t helped by the fact that he knows that Jack earns more than he does. In a discussion with a close friend, Matt said, “You know, I tell myself that money isn’t important; that that’s not why I’m doing this job. But, when I found out how much more than me he was earning, well, it really made me mad. Then again, I guess, at least I know that if I get promoted then I earned it – he just manipulates people to get what he wants. I wouldn’t want to be like that for all the money in the world.”

The person that Matt believes Jack is manipulating the most is their boss, Chief Detective Inspector Marla Finch. Marla is an experienced member of the Police Force and has been in the force for over 18 years. Marla admires Jack’s ambitious get-up-and-go attitude, and wishes that Matt could have a little more ambition and decorum as well.

The day came when Marla had to give Matt his performance appraisal. Neither of them had been looking forward to it. Marla doesn’t like conflict, and Matt doesn’t like performance appraisals. Here is what Matt had to say about the appraisal:

I hate these reviews. They never get at the ‘real’ stuff that I do. I mean, I work like a dog, I take on a high case-load, the highest in our division, and I care about the impact of my work, especially where it concerns the victims of crime, and I solve more cases than almost anyone else.

I am happy with what I do, and the way I do it. But Marla just looks at the bottom line: she worries about my overtime, about my use of the uniform guys; how many fingerprint and DNA tests I request. She worries about the impression I make and my lack of professionalism, and she complains that I socialise with the uniform guys too much.

Basically, she sees all this as poor performance. So I figure, what’s the point? If I’m not going to get recognised for my hard work, why should I bother?

But, of course, I couldn’t get out of it. So we started talking about what I’d been doing this year, how I thought I’d gone, where I thought I’d done well, and what I thought I could improve on. And actually, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. We spent most of the time talking about what I wanted to do next year and how we could make it happen. We decided that I would take the lead on an upcoming inter-agency anti-terrorist exercise, which would be a lot of fun, and might get me noticed by the Commissioner, and could help me with my promotion.

One major issue that Marla has had in the department, one that everyone gives her a hard time about is paperwork. Marla recently attended a number of seminars for leaders of various Government agencies around NSW. At one of these sessions, the topic discussed

was motivation – specifically, how can managers motivate their staff – largely public servants – to do a good job. Marla’s problem with her staff became the central focus of the discussion:

I’ve got a real problem with my officers. They come on the force as young, inexperienced rookies, and we put them out on the streets, either in cars or on the beat. They seem to like the contact they have with the public, the action involved in crime prevention, and the apprehension of criminals. They also love helping people out at fires, accidents and other emergencies.

The problem occurs when they get back to the station. They hate doing the paperwork, and because they dislike it, this essential element of the job is frequently put off or done inadequately. This lack of attention hurts later on when we get to court. We need clear, factual reports. They must be highly detailed and unambiguous. As soon as one part of a report is shown to be inadequate or incorrect, the rest of the report is suspect. Poor reporting probably causes us to lose more cases than any other factor.

I just don’t know how to motivate them to do a better job. We’re in a budget crunch, and I have absolutely no financial rewards at my disposal. In fact, we’ll probably have to lay some people off in the near future. It’s hard for me to make these tasks interesting and challenging – because it isn’t; it’s boring, routine paperwork, and there isn’t much you can do about it.

Finally, I can’t say to them that their promotions will hinge on the excellence of their paperwork. First of all, they know it’s not true. If their performance is adequate, most are more likely to get promoted just by staying on the force a certain number of years than for some specific outstanding act. Second, they were trained to do the job they do out in the streets, not to fill out forms. All through their career, it is the arrests and interventions that get noticed.

Some people have suggested a number of things, like using conviction records as a performance criterion. However, we know that’s not fair – too many other things are involved. Bad paperwork increases the chance that you lose in court, but good paperwork doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win. We tried setting up team competitions based on the excellence of the reports, but the officers caught on to that pretty quickly. No one was getting any type of reward for winning the competition, and they couldn’t see any point in busting a gut when there was no payoff.

I just don’t know what to do.

Answer the questions according to the case study:

Explain how (a) culture and (b) leadership impact on the paperwork situation.

a. Choose at least one theory/model/concept from (a) culture and (b) leadership.

b. Explain what these are and how they work.

c. Apply them to the problem presented in the case.

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