Social Interaction at the Work Place – A Case Study Analysisby Simi Agarwal, DDS | August 5, 2010
Social interaction at the work place promotes enhanced collaboration, higher metacognition, richer sensory experience by way of emotion, better planning where each member feels included, and better understanding of common values and purpose. Those leaders which promote social interaction within their organization are able to engage wider range of human intelligence which includes physiological, social, emotional, constructive, reflective and dispositional. In this manner, a wider range of human intelligence is integrated in a natural manner to achieve the individual and organizational goal.
There are some people in leadership positions who, either due to deliberate intention or out of blissful ignorance, allow a culture to pervade in their organization where workers feel cut off or isolated from their colleagues. Adequate opportunities for social interaction and collaboration between working colleagues is not provided. There is no transparent flow of information from senior management to the middle and lower management executives, leaving the majority of working executives to feel confused about what the ultimate purpose of the company is for any given project. More often than not, the senior management makes plans behind closed doors. Any participation in planning on important projects of the company is denied and not discussed with middle and lower management executives. Even when the senior management executives know that their decisions will impact the working lives of middle and lower management executives the most, these senior executives hand out directives for what and how the middle and lower management executives should take next action. The middle and lower management executives are not allowed to question the senior authority. They are not allowed to provide any input based on the challenges they face at the workplace and they are expected to carry out the same repetitive and monotonous tasks.
People working under such leaders often find themselves full of frustration with feelings of being limited in human capacity to achieve organizational and individual goals. People working in such organizational culture often find themselves redundant and complacent.
Let us understand the value of social interaction at work place in achieving organizational success by the following case study analysis:
There were smartphone manufacturing companies trying to capture a larger market share and were in stiff competition with each other. Consequently, there was tremendous pressure on CEOs of both companies to devise new marketing strategies to promote the existing brand and if necessary, to launch a new smartphone with fancy texting features, to achieve organizational objectives.
Michael, the CEO of the first company, was well aware that if he launched a new smartphone under the existing brand of his company and his sales volume failed to reach the estimated target levels he predicted, there would be waves of discontent among his company’s senior management. There would certainly be a long term damaging impact on his career prospects. However, since the senior management of his company was very keen to launch the new product in the market, Michael approved the plan rather reluctantly. He then delegated the whole responsibility to launch the product and achieve the sales targets to his product development manager. Michael thought that it was his smart move because if the smartphone was successfully launched by his product development manager, then he would take all the credit as CEO. If something went wrong with the sales, then Michael would put all the blame on his product development manager. Michael distanced himself from the whole process of new product development, the launch, and marketing strategy, and did not participate in any meetings or corporate social interaction involved with it.
When the product development manager of Michael’s company organized a meeting with his assistants to plan for the smartphone development, the response of his assistants were cold and complacent. Everybody in the meeting was aware that there was no support or interaction from the CEO in the whole process. Accordingly, not a single assistant was willing to be accountable if things did not go as planned. There was no coherent social interaction from top management down to the assistants to make them understand what the original intention of the senior management was and why this new product launch was necessary. The meeting between assistants of this company failed to raise any enthusiasm between the executing team and nobody wanted to be a scapegoat. Orders were issued from the office of the product development manager down to assistant’s level, giving directions to everybody what they were expected to do. After a few days of disorganized and mismanaged actions, the new product launch of this first company failed miserably. Middle management and junior assistants were quick to point fingers at each other and CEO finally fired the product development manager.
Gary, the CEO of the second company, was very curious and excited when he came to know that his senior management was desirous of launching a new smartphone to capture a larger percentage of the market share. Such a new product launch had not happened in this company during his tenure. He called for a meeting with his product development manager, diverse group of assistant managers, and marketing experts. Several meetings were held to brainstorm and discuss the best creative solutions for the new product launch. The meetings were held in an atmosphere of enthusiastic social interaction where the group was able to exchange diverse ideas for and against various strategies. Finally the group was able to reach the best solution by consensus and to own collective responsibility for the outcome. Each member in the meeting felt included and heard in the social interaction and this helped to engage various dimensions of human intelligence of the whole group in the meeting to achieve the company’s goal.
After the meeting ended, Gary, the CEO of the second company, carefully selected a team for launching a new smartphone which comprised of people, who were committed to achieving the company’s goals and who were talented at networking. Gary’s team knew that they had the support of the CEO and hence were willing to take more risk to try new strategies and programs which were not tried before. Gary made sure that team leaders working on this new product launch had frequent meetings and social interactions so that the team would have common understanding of the mission and work to achieve this mission, even in face of ambiguity. Within two years of constant efforts and spirited team work, the new smartphone launch from second company was a huge success! The second company was finally able to achieve a bigger market share.
By this case study analysis, we can understand very well how the social interaction and social relationships at work place helps to achieve organizational success.
Dickmann, M. H. & Blair, N.S. (2001). Connecting Leadership to the Brain. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.
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