Organisational behaviour is a field
of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups and structure
have on behaviour within organisation for applying their knowledge towards improving
an organisation’s effectiveness. 1
This essay will present some of the
theories that reflect the organisational behaviour at BFGym and how they affect
the success of the organisation.
Max Weber (1864-1920) invented the
theory of bureaucracy2.
One of the principles of bureaucracy that he illustrated is “Hierarchical
Authority”, whereby power is existent with the position and not the person. This
principle shows that authority travels through the hierarchy based on certain
By observing the structure at BFGym,
the highest authority lies within management. It is said that experienced
trainers are part of management and so with their knowledge and expertise,
BFGym would be able to make the best decisions possible, those which could be
time saving, cost effective and lead to high customer satisfaction.
This bureaucratic structure, which
involves centralised decision making provides a consistent quality of customer
service due to the fixed schedule of classes, prepared by management. Ensuring
that the best possible service is delivered, meets another one of Weber’s
bureaucracy principle of “Efficient Operation” which seeks to find the most
efficient method of allocating resources. With consistent quality of customer
service, it is more likely that customers develop a high loyalty towards BFGym,
which may create a good reputation and attract new members.
Nevertheless, despite the
simplification of complexity that a bureaucratic structure provides, one
drawback of such structure is that, centralised decision making excludes the
input of those beneath the management layer, resulting in a lack of motivation
within staff. With management organising the classes, trainers do not feel the
need to take any initiative or responsibility with planning their sessions. For
example, Philip a BFGym instructor for 4 years now feels “bored and uninspired”
due to the same spinning classes for a year now. Furthermore, he feels this
prevents him from building an effective “instructor and trainee” relationship.
In the long run, bureaucratic structure may decrease the quality of service
provided at BFGym, resulting in unhappy customers.
With a bureaucratic structure, BFGym
practises no consultation with its employees. For example, when the breakout
room was turned into another training room, trainers were upset as it meant a
reduction in the quality of social interaction between staff members. With no
consultation, employees may feel less valued and their sense of belonging to
the organisation may weaken. This may lead to workers more likely to leave the
organisation, in return increasing the labour turnover costs for BFGym.
Such disadvantages of a bureaucratic structure
pinpoint Max Weber’s theory of “Iron Cage”.4
The minimum importance given to staff’s opinions, ideas and contribution can be
labelled as “de-humanising” as workers appear as insignificant elements in a
system of bureaucratic structure. Coupled with a lack of motivation and
innovation due to centralised decision making by management, workers are
subjected to become unthinkable and unable to use their imagination. It creates
detachment for employees from their work as they are bound to rules and
regulations. The theory of workers being trapped in an “Iron Cage” restricts
their imagination and willingness to bring innovative ideas that may contribute
to the success of the organisation.
Leadership is the ability of an
individual to influence, motivate and enable others to contribute towards the
effectiveness and success of the organisations of which they are members.5
At BFGym, different styles of
leaderships are adopted by different members of staff. Kurt Lewin (1939)
conducted a social experiment through which 3 styles of leadership were
discovered. Some of these leadership styles are demonstrated by Kate and Philip
at BFGym. 6
On one hand, by talking directly to
staff and giving them the upper-hand when it comes to making the potential
decisions, Kate overlaps between a democratic and Laissez Faire leader. Through involving staff in the decision-making
process, Kate’s aims as a leader are to restore the sense of belonging and
motivation within staff members. She is aware that her employees are crucial
for the effective functioning of the organisation and so a Democratic-Laissez
Faire would be ideal for Kate to motivate her staff as they take responsibility
and ownership. As a result, the instructors would feel empowered and provide a
better quality of training at BFGym, getting the gym back on track and
increasing customer satisfaction.
On the other hand, Kate’s style of
Democratic/Laissez Faire Leadership could produce counterproductive results.
For example, during the group meeting held by the class instructors, Robin and
Jo were more concerned with getting back home rather than contribute to the
group with their ideas. Such leadership can make the worker feel burdened, as
they may view coming up with their own solutions as an extra task.
Additionally, Laissez Faire leadership can be slow in times of crisis as taking
each instructor’s ideas into account, may be time consuming. Thus, to meet
Kate’s objectives of “smooth running of the gym and high customer
satisfaction”, Laissez Faire leadership may not be completely suitable, as the
decision making may be slow, and workers tend to be counter-productive.
By handing over the responsibilities
of coming up with solutions to the staff, it appears that Kate is trying to get
rid of extra work pressure exerted on her. This type of behaviour can be
assessed as transactional leadership, which is practised simply to get work
done and may only produce short term results. As a recommendation, it would be
ideal for Kate to adopt a transformational leadership style. She should
intervene more with the decision making of her group as her presence during
every meeting may get the instructors to engage more. For example, Jo and Robin
who were in a rush would actively contribute more as Kate may bring more
authority into the room. Kate would thus influence the group to bring out the
best of ideas with a transformational leadership style and create long term
solutions to their problems. 7
Secondly, being dominant as he is,
Philip instantly assumes the leadership position to organise the team meeting. By doing so, Philip’s leadership style
overlaps between autocratic and democratic. The autocratic side to his
leadership is largely due to his dominance and centralised decision making.
This is because Philip discards Nick’s input which refrain’s Nick from further
voicing his opinion. Autocratic style can be damaging to the organisation
because it restricts the value given to ideas presented by workers such as Nick,
leading them to lose their sense of belonging with the group. This may decrease
motivation within the workforce, leading to inferior quality of customer
service. Additionally, autocratic traits such as dominance triggered Philip to
use confrontation as a response to Jo and Robin’s negative attitude, which
eventually worsened matters as tension built between the two parties.
Therefore, such leadership style can cause disruption in decision making as the
leader may try to overpower the group.
However, with the democratic element
to his leadership style, Philip was appreciative of Jane’s contribution and
took the initiative to show the solutions in the group presentation. This may
indeed make employees feel valued as their opinions are taken on board,
resulting in an increase in motivation which may lead to the workforce being
more productive and working towards the organisation’s objectives.
As recommendation, Philip should
consider decreasing the autocracy that he uses in his leadership style and
instead give equal importance to each opinion given by each worker. This allows
the sense of belonging within the group to be maintained. Moreover, he should
continue his transformational qualities as a leader as he went the extra mile
to organise the group meeting prior to the management meeting. This way,
leadership is not only present at the top of the organisation but throughout
the different levels.
Power is the potential ability to
influence others and get things done. 8
Philip’s source of power stems from
power as possession, whereby power is an attribute that is owned by the
Due to his dominance and leadership position in the group, he naturally has the
power as possession in the group. Through this source of power, he may be able
to reduce the organisation’s uncertainty. For example, Philip takes the
initiative to organise the group meeting, which otherwise, other instructors
would not be willing to have taken the responsibility for. From this, it is
evident that power as possession is created by having something that others
need without a suitable alternative. The group is dependent upon Philip and, so
it may not necessarily matter if he has power as “Group leader” so long as
followers, or in this case, the instructors at BFGym believe he does have
As Philip’s source of power is that
of possession, it can quickly give rise to organisational politics, such as the
argument that occurred between Philip, Jo and Robin over a conflict of
interests. To avoid this dark side of power, Philip should use rational persuasion
as a power tactic.10
During the process, Philip should give his colleagues, good reasons to make his
decision their decision by using facts, figures and logical arguments.11
Jane’s source of power stems from Power
as productive. With such source, power is not acknowledged as negative force
that prevents actions, rather it is something that produces new ways of
thinking. According to the French Philosopher Michael Foucault, Power is a
creative, positive force that brings certain ways of thinking and behaving into
being and that which introduces new reality. In the group meeting, it is
evident that Jane’s source of power is productive and positive as she
considered the benefits of other trainers when actively coming up with
solutions. Jane’s portrayal of power puts emphasis on being logical, problem
solving and innovative, all which ultimately lead to practical solutions. Her
power of taking initiative with valid solutions is respected by her colleagues
and her will to change BFGym’s structure, reflect her source of power as
productive as she is determined to improve the reality of the organisation.
As a recommendation, since Jane is a
graduate that joined BFGym, she should use her knowledge as her main source of
power to continue influencing her colleagues and the management team. Jane’s
power is useful to the organisation’s success because her imagination and
intrapreneurship may more than likely bring innovation into the workplace in
terms of delivering better customer service, for instance; new training
techniques. Management and her team should therefore be more appreciative of
her as she may bring transformative change to the organisation with her power,
in the form of knowledge and creativity.
Organisational culture describes the
common practises, attitudes, behaviours, beliefs and values that are shared
between members in the workplace. 12
Charles Handy (Book of Handy 2009) presented 4 main categories of culture,
including, Power, Role, Task/Team and Person culture. 13
At BFGym, it can be observed that the
dominant culture is Role culture, whereby everyone has a well – defined role. 14As
an example, management have the role of preparing fixed training sessions. The
advantage of such culture is that well defined roles leave little to no room
for uncertainty in the organisation.
However, with a role culture it
becomes increasingly difficult to adapt to changes. For instance, when Jane
suggested changes to some exercises, management showed resistance. This is
because with Role culture, centralised decision making is practised with
authority at the top of the hierarchy. Ultimately, other members of staff may
feel unimportant and may become detached from their role in the organisation if
their ideas are discounted.
A more suitable culture for BFGym
would be Task culture, whereby teams are formed to achieve the targets15.
Working in teams would allow individuals with a range of different
personalities and skills to communicate with each other and thus bring new
ideas to the table. As a result, the flow of communication through task culture
may flourish which would lead the team to come up with practical solutions to
their problems. For example, the group meeting before the management meeting
held at BFGym can be a significance of task culture arising as all instructors
contribute towards collectively producing suggestions. If task culture is
further encouraged at BFGym, instructors like Nick who feel excluded may
restore their sense of belongingness to the organisation and feel more accepted,
resulting in greater staff motivation to satisfy business objectives.
Considering the case for BFGym, the
advantage of a bureaucratic structure is the efficient management and operation
but with the shortcomings of poor labour productivity, if instructors
experience “the iron cage” mentality. Consequently, if transformational
leadership is adopted by Kate, BFGym could experience long term benefits as it
would alter the outlook of existing employees, motivating them to bring more positive
Although the dark side of power is existent in
many bureaucratic organisations, if the source of Power is productive, such as
that used by Jane, it may create innovation and enable BFGym to grow.
Organisational culture underpins the success for any business as the values and
visions of the firm are put into practise. Shifting from a role to a task
culture should thereby encourage employees at BGym to work collaboratively,
producing solutions which support the foundations and pillars of the organisation,
contributing to its success in the long term.