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Theory Assignment 1

Theory Assignment 1

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Published by Kenyon Stanley

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Kenyon Stanley on Jan 13, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Analysis Paper #1 1
Kenyon StanleyDr. WhiteCOMM 6041 February 2011Analysis Paper #1In my nearly forty years of living, I have worked for a large number of organizations. Themajority of those organizations have consistently used machine-like metaphors to describe themselves totheir employees and the general public. The Men¶s Shelter of Charlotte is one such organization wherethe machine metaphor was communicated to the clients, staff and public. During my tenure at the shelter,management consistently sought out new scientific methods which would (in theory) get the most production out of staff at the cheapest possible cost. The outcome of such studies resulted in astandardization work roles, and continued perpetuation of a strictly vertical communication channel.Additionally, the job tasks were standardized to such an extent that more effective ideas were rarely (if ever) adopted simply because those tasks were deemed ³not the shelter way´. Furthermore, managementwould over-emphasize the notion that every employee was replaceable as a means to exact compliance.Sadly, the machine metaphor utilized by The Men¶s Shelter of Charlotte contributed in their high turnover rate, low morale and a reduction in services to the homeless community.With the roots of the machine metaphor dating back to Frederick the Great in the mid-18
 century, the utilization of the machine metaphor has stood the test of time. The relevance is evident bythe fact that most of today¶s organization still prefer to communicate in accordance with classicalmanagement theory. According to Eisenberg, E.M., Goodall, H.L., Jr., & Trethewey, A. (2010),organizations that prescribe to classical management theory believe that production is at its best when thelabor is divided among employees, there is a strict hierarchy of offices and a codified set of rules tomonitor performances (p. 69). Furthermore, in classical organizations, employers have no regard for employees¶ personal lives. Basically, work and home life are too separate entities and don¶t mix.
Analysis Paper #1 2
Additionally, employers expect their employees to choose work whenever work and home life conflict.Referring back to the Men¶s Shelter, employees were often coerced to choose work over home life. Infact, the Shelter would hold ³all hands´ meetings every other Tuesday and Thursday. These meetingswere mandatory and failure to attend would result in disciplinary action, up to termination. For me, themeetings were difficult to attend as my work hours were midnight to 8:30 A.M. Additionally, findingchildcare for two hours proved to be quite difficult. As far as the Shelter was concerned, childcare andsleep were my problem. When I suggested that I ³Skype´ in for a meeting, the executive director dismissed my idea and chastised me for ³thinking outside the box´. Proving not only is the Men¶s Shelter of Charlotte an organization that prescribes to Classical Management Theory, but that I needed to find a job that valued my work and personal needs. Although the Classical Management Theory does have its benefits (e.g. clear expectations, compliance gaining and coordinating work efforts), the businesses thatidentify with the machine metaphor have some significant drawbacks.There probably is no ³perfect´ metaphor for an organization. However organizations that adopt amachine metaphorical culture have several weaknesses. First, the machine metaphor is a strictly prescriptive method of running an organization. While it¶s a good thing for management to have answers,it¶s quite possible that the answers management comes up with are wrong. Adopting a descriptivemethodology would increase understanding between management and lower level staff. By increasingthe understanding, employees would feel valued and morale would go up. Second, classically runorganizations are segmented in nature. The segmentation of job tasks decreases cross-training anddialogue, thus providing a ripe breeding ground for an ³it¶s not my job´ attitude. Third, machine-runorganizations are difficult to adapt to environmental changes as they are systems. Lastly, the machine-run businesses have a top-down communication flow which stifles any innovative ideas that may come fromlower level employees. It is no secret that my passion is to serve the needs of the homeless. When I wasinitially hired at the Shelter, I was excited that my knowledge, passion and extensive experience mayenhance the efforts of the shelter. Unfortunately, I soon found out that it was taboo to step outside one¶s
Analysis Paper #1 3
 job description. Additionally, when the housing market crashed, the shelter was not prepared to handlethe 30% increase in homeless men needing our services to survive. Instead of collaborating with staff andother agencies, the executive director chose to cut needed services that attack the barriers to self-sufficiency that many of the homeless live with daily (e.g. mental illness, chemical dependency, literacyetc.). If upper management would have collaborated with others, perhaps a creative solution could have been discovered and implemented. I do still believe that the Shelter provides a needed service to some of our communities most vulnerable citizens. However, perhaps there is a better metaphorical lens to viewan organization²specifically The Men¶s Shelter of Charlotte.The human body is a metaphor that is not only a relevant lens to view the Shelter, but it¶s a waywhich will enhances the interdependence between management, staff and the homeless men needingservices. Every human body needs a driving force, specifically a brain. The brain has many different parts that control different areas of the body. In the Shelter, the executive director, assistant executivedirector and the board of directors is the brain of the organization. The ³brain´ of the shelter isresponsible for setting budgets, creating policy, setting goals and understanding outside influences. Oncethe ³brain¶s´ goals are realized, the next step is to communicate those goals to the rest of the body. Thisis the job of the central nervous system. In the case of the Shelter, the various departmental directors arethe central nervous system. Connected to the brain, the central nervous system communicates the goals of the brain to the various parts. For example, every human body needs a heart to survive. For the Shelter,the development department is the heart. It is the heart¶s job to pump blood and distribute the blood tothe rest of the body. Money is the blood of the Shelter and a just as a human body needs blood; everynonprofit organization needs grants and donations (basically money) to survive. Therefore, thedevelopment department pumps the money in and through the various departments of the organization atthe direction of the brain. The communications department is obviously the mouth. At the direction of the brain, the mouth communicates the message of the Shelter to the community. At the Shelter, there isno internal communications department. All of the communication to the shelter staff (the body) comes

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