I am essentially done with intergroup dynamics, but have just a couple of “after-thoughts.” Most of us gravitate toward “middle” position. People with the most power wouldn’t think they have enough and would still seek more, and people at the bottom of the power rung would and can exert power. The amount of power is a matter of relativity and so power acquisition and display are on a sliding scale. However, having said this, as Kenwyn pointed out in his personal conclusion, only the middle would spend the time and energy to study this issue and write about it; the top probably couldn’t care less, and the bottom wouldn’t have the leisure.
My personal journey on power has been seeking the “no-see-em” status. However, since where I live now is somewhat isolated and my natural social inclination (few but great quality friends), I don’t have nor seek power, and have no other “no-see-em” with whom to have any natural collective power. As a result, it’s “easy” for me to sit on the fence and observe and write about organizational phenomena. But this rather amorphous boundary has its own prison-like pressure for me too.
Enough on the intergroup dynamics.
When the economy is bad, all businesses suffer and they need customers more than ever. You would think that during economic downturns, business should really polish their customer services. Regardless of the economic conditions, it seems to me that most businesses just don’t get the concept of “customer satisfaction.” For example, if you were to replace the automated – and annoying – phone recorded choices and actually install one operator to talk to people, in a very helpful manner, I’ll bet that the business that comes your way would more than offset the salary of that operator. But the “operative” word is helpful. I accidentally (don’t know why and don’t care now) signed up for “Bill Me Later” with PayPal a couple of months ago when I just wanted a “straightforward” PayPal service. When I recently tried to pay via the online feature, I encountered confusion…and oh by the way, my friends have verified that I am a fairly intelligent person, quick to understand most social systems. I called PayPal and got to talk to a customer representative pretty quickly, but in less than a minute, I was totally turned off by her snappy response, “Well, I don’t know why some people don’t get it, and others do.” As a result, I terminated the account, and paid the bill by snail mail. When I filled out their survey, one of my responses was, “If you want more customers, you had better know why some people get it and others don’t!” Should have followed my intuition and never signed up with PayPal in the first place.
While I was working on the intergroup dynamics, I also came across an interesting article about bosses in a Southwest in-flight magazine. The essential message was that during tough economic times, kind and considerable bosses might not be the right persons to get through the hard times, but tough and mean ones do. But the tough bosses are only good for a short while before company’s reputation, both internal morale and external PR, suffer. I can see advantages of toughness, but mean-spirited? Absolutely not. I don’t buy the notion that toughness and meanness are in concert with each other, or even correlated. It’s more likely that during tough economic times, people are more afraid of losing jobs so they have some tolerance for short-tempers, along with tighter budgets, and reduced care and attention. But bosses who become mean will not last long either (unless they are top executives, whereupon they land other jobs, perhaps with even better pay…difficult to not be cynical at times). Obverse, being liked shouldn’t be confused with good leadership; a well-respected leader isn’t always the most likable person. Of course, there can be a strong leader who’s respected and liked. In short, when we try to box in a person (like prison walls), be he/she in a leadership position or not, we do disservice to all of us. It’s the system!
Organizations rely on “relationships, relations among parts and relations among relations” (Kenwyn Smith)
Till May 6th,
Staying Sane and Charging Ahead.
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