a) Describe the socialization process that Turner experienced at MLI
Socialization processes play an important role in integrating newcomers into the company and developing employee skills, relationships and attitudes, which are necessary for successful work in the company (Chao et al., 1994a; Chatman, 1991; De Vos et al., 2003; Louis, 1980; Thomas and Anderson, 1998). Neglecting or not using these processes effectively may result in job dissatisfaction, high staff turnover, low productivity and general miscommunication. Therefore, in order to make sure that recruiting expenses are not undermined by inefficient organizational socialization, effort should be put into integrating newcomers into their teams and the company in general.
For Jamie Turner the process of socialization was limited. First of all, as Turner was the only one joining the company at that moment, he was forced to undergo the process of socialization individually, without the support of other newcomers. His behaviour was consistent with model by Louis et al., where the new employee is actively seeking new information and trying to make sense of it (Louis et al., 1983), as Cardullo put Turner in position, where he had to take responsibility already in the first month of his employment, taking over rather than supporting the decision-making process of other branches, e.g. replacing Kelly in managing sales in MLI.
b) Discuss the relationship between that socialization process and Turner’s current situation.
Current Turner’s situation strongly indicates a failure of the organizational socialization in MLI. As the primary success factors, it is common to consider job satisfaction of the newly hired employees, support of the co-workers and clear and positive career prospects, increase of work commitment, reduced anxiety and desire to leave. On the other hand, in MLI Turner found himself in a situation, where his originally promising position was lacking solid promotion opportunities, both due to the negative attitude of Cardullo, the immediate superior, and the general obscurity of the company’s future. His relationships with co-workers continued to deteriorate, and resistance of Julie Chin and Cardullo himself to resolve the issues made the situation even worse, alienating Turner from some of his colleagues and disrupting the overall teamwork in the MLI’s management.
c. How could that process have been improved?
Initially, the situation could have been improved if Cardullo was more open and introduced Turner to his team colleagues already on his first day. That could have helped to establish closer relationships between them already from the very beginning, thus improving further communication and faster socialization. Secondly, Cardullo’s decision to put additional tasks on Turner already in the first month was not appropriate, according to socialization theory. In order to obtain better role performance from Turner, it was necessary for Cardullo to explain his tasks clearly in the very beginning, assign a mentor or supervise him personally, without alteration of his responsibilities in the first months of employment. Moreover, giving independence to Turner already from the first days was a detrimental factor for his social cohesion, necessary for successful socialization. As Turner was pushed to make decisions according to his own judgement, he did not have enough time to learn the common behaviour and attitudes in the company. As a result, his opinions were sometimes accepted with hostility by other employees, and especially Cardullo, since they failed to cohere with the established practices and judgements in MLI.
In order to improve the already existing situation, the most important factor is communication and constant feed-back. After six months in MLI, Turner is no longer new to the organization. However, the initial socialization processes’ failure have had detrimental effect on his relationships with Cardullo. His desire to discuss the existing issues is a promising solution to the problem, however Cardullo’s support and commitment to improving relationships with Turner is necessary to make the plan work. Only full transparency in objectives and concerns not only between Turner and Cardullo, but among all the MLI team members can reduce internal tension and improve socialization in the company.
In what ways does person-organization fit relate to this case?
Person – organization fit refers to how well people and organizations fit each other. It is often determined by both individual personality of the employee and the so called organizational personality of the company. Research has shown that person-organization fit is often key to retaining workforce and selecting employees, committed to their job (Sekiguchi, 2004). According to Schneider, people tend to leave organizations, where do not fit into. This person-organization compatibility can be reinforced by socialization practices for newcomers (Schneider, 1987). MLI has never been a perfect fit for Turner. First of all, the work associated with industrial marketing, the core marketing activity in MLI, has never been interesting for Turner. Secondly, the failure of Lambowland.com, the previous employer of Turner, forced his to search for a new position as soon as possible. Moreover, the initial attractive opportunities, MLI had to offer, such as high degree of autonomy, promotion potential and challenge of marketing decision-making, were becoming vaguer, as the tension between Turner and Cardullo grew stronger. In this situation MLI and Turner presented very little person-organization fit, which was forcing Turner to reconsider his decision to stay in the company.
a) Discuss Cardullo as a supervisor.
Cardullo’s management skills can hardly be called perfect. One of the characteristics, which distinguishes a good manager, is the ability to find and correctly implement the talents of the employees. Cardullo on the other hand, did not try to find the right task for the right man, in order to maximize productivity, but on the contrary, he threatened to fire Kelly, as soon as he disagreed with Cardullo’s point of view. The increasing tension between him and Turner is suggesting that Turner may find himself in a situation, similar to the one of Kelly at some point of time. Moreover, one of the greatest problems of Cardullo’s management style is his biased attitude, based on personal preferences. Thus, he fails to admit his mistake in choosing pricing strategy, even despite the obvious quantitative indicators, preferring to put company at risk rather than let Turner take corrective actions. His reluctance to communicate concerns and discuss the existing issues also indicates the lack of managerial abilities and contributes to the growing tension in the team.
b) Discuss Cardullo’s conflict management style.
M. Kelleher suggests that successful conflict resolution strategy is based on the four principles: avoiding and smoothing conflicts, confronting problems and forcing conflict resolution (Kelleher, 1996). Cardullo’s conflict management style fails to adhere to all of these strategies. Firstly, he openly demonstrates his attitude to Turner, assessing his ideas based on personal bias, rather than the merit of Turner’s work, thus reinforcing the conflict, instead of withdrawing from it. Secondly, he does not try to reduce conflicts among employees, taking no action in response to the tension between his controller Julie Chin and Turner. Cardullo also fails in confronting Turner in order to resolve the issues, instead trying to avoid an open conversation with him. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that Cardullo’s conflict resolution style requires extensive improvement, as his current relationships with Turner puts MLI at risk of losing a valuable employee over Cardullo’s personal attitudes.
How might Turner have reduced his problems with his colleagues and subordinates at MLI?
In general, Turner’s management style was very responsive to the needs of his colleagues and subordinates. It can be seen in his desire to act through Kelly in the sales field, acknowledging his experience and authority in the company. Moreover, his colleagues and competitors, such as Ernie Dennis, were supportive and acknowledged his achievements. However, his reorganization strategy and bringing in new people already in the first months of employment could be viewed with hostility by his colleagues. Thus, Julie Chin was reluctant to agree with Juanita Swenson’s assessment of the cash flow situation in MLI, and regarded it as a personal offence. The conflict further spread, involving Turner, Kelly and Cardullo, posing a threat to the smooth operation of the company. Although it is impossible to say with certainty, if Turner spent more time leaning the way MLI works, rather than trying to change it and inviting new people, his actions would have been more socially coherent with the general company culture and socialization process with colleagues would have been much smoother.
How might Turner have reduced his problems with Cardullo?
As it can be seen from the text, Cardullo is an authoritarian person, who has problems admitting mistakes and often puts personal attitudes above company interests. The example of Julia Chin indicates that the best strategy to reduce tension with Cardullo is to agree with his opinion in every situation. However, this tactics can be detrimental for MLI in the times, when Cardullo’s decisions do not respond well to the existing situation. In the case of Turner, he could have reduced problems with Cardullo by slowly taking up authority in the company. Whenever their opinions differed, it was better to talk to Cardullo in private, which proved to be successful as in the case of their conversation regarding the communication problems during the time Cardullo was away in San Diego. On the other hand, publicly disagreeing with him could negatively affect the existing relationships, as in the case with warehouse layout design. In general, better interaction from the very first day, could have significantly reduced problems for Turner in the long-run. Failure to voice the rising concerns fast enough turned out into a long-lasting tension between Turner and Cardullo, while the reluctance of the latter to communicate at this stage made conflict resolution even more complicated.
What would you do now if you were Turner? In other words, what course of action do you recommend for Turner? Be very detailed and provide support for all your assertions.
The situation Turner is currently in is not easily resolvable. On the one hand his future in MLI is ambiguous. Negative attitude of Cardullo could easily jeopardize career growth prospects and force Turner to resign at any moment. On the other hand, leaving MLI would mean undertaking another job search, which is especially dangerous taking into consideration current labor market conditions. Therefore, it is important to try to resolve the situation and to reduce the tension between Turner and Cardullo.
Firstly, Turner has to talk to Cardullo, present all the issues he has, as well as listen to the Cardullo’s argumentation. As communication is key to conflict resolution, this approach will help to resolve current issues and set “the rules of the game”, in a way that such situations do not repeat in the future. Further connection may be established informally, by inviting to spend time outside the working hours. It may be easier to understand each other in the informal setting and explain points of view, when other colleagues are not around. As Cardullo does not like to be objected in public, there is hardly any chance for Turner to explain his position, when other people are around.
If Cardullo does not agree to discuss the problem, it is possible to address Cardullo’s superiors with this issue. Although taking such actions is not desirable, it is the only effective method in a situation, when personal attitudes stand on the way of company’s success.
Lastly, if no other method proves to be efficient, Turner should consider leaving the company. It is impossible to produce significant results in a hostile working environment, therefore it would be more productive for Turner to resign rather than stay in job, which is not interesting to him, and does not offer promotional opportunities any more.
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