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Department 8101

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Department 8101

Sheila McCaffery
OM Online 31

Psychology 452, Group & Organizational Dynamics
Organizational Management
Susan Sullivan
June 15, 2015

Department 8101 Department 8101 was a department that worked cohesively together and could be considered a “well-oiled machine”, although there was still items that should have been addressed. The team consisted of five important employees Hank (supervisor), Terry (junior job setter), Denny (senior job setter), Helen (relief woman) and Unnamed Worker (general). These employees had fifteen plus years with the company except for Unnamed Worker, who had two years with the company. Department 8101 exceeded Plant Eight’s goals and was the top-producing department. When Hank retired, Rita was introduced as their new supervisor and everything changed. The team eventually lost its top-producing status. While analyzing Department 8101, I reviewed the group’s norms, roles, synergy, group cohesion, and what led to the breakdown of the top-producing department. Department 8101 had many norms that were accepted by the group which helped the group become the top-producing department. Harris and Sherblom (2011) noted “Group norms define the nature of the group and the relationships among the group members by expressing the collective values of the membership and by identifying the place of group members within the system” (p. 41). If a member of the group did not adhere to the group norms they were excluded from the group. Hank was the manager of Department 8101, but the group managed itself. The department established the norms for the group. There are two types of norms, crucial and peripheral.
Department 8101 had several crucial norms. Harris and Sherblom (2011) stated, “A crucial norm has a primary effect on how well the group performs its tasks” (p. 42). The group had several crucial norms such as absences, training, performance, and quality of work. Tubbs (2001) noted “training, discipline and even the standard according to which the work was performed were carried out by the group” (p. 201). In addition to crucial norms, Department

8101 had peripheral norms. According to Harris and Sherblom (2011), “A peripheral norm outlines behaviors that should be engaged in or avoided but these are rarely essential to the effective functioning of the group” (p 42). Tubbs (2001) stated, “Horseplay and slacking off were dealt with by the group” (p. 2001). It was essential that these norms were respected and followed, so the group could continue to be the top producing department. Norms are an important factor for a group to function properly but each employee must also understand their role. Hank was the supervisor but gave authority to Denny. Tubbs noted, “Hank has given Denny unlimited discretion in making decisions concerning the line” (p. 200). Each member of the group had a specific role that they adhered to and they respected their fellow member’s roles. According to Hare, “A role is associated with the position and status of the member in a group and implies the rights and duties of the member toward one or more other group members” (as cited in Harris & Sherblom, 2011, p. 44). With each group member respecting the norms of the group and roles of each member this resulted in synergy.
Synergy is the result of a group working together. Harris and Sherblom (2011) noted, “Synergy results when two or more people work together, share their ideas with open minds and mutual respect, and manage conflict in ways that empower all members” (p. 12). Department 8101 had exceed expectations because they worked cohesively as a group.
Group cohesion was apparent in Department 8101. According to Swartz and Swartz (2007), “Group cohesion refers to the degree to which an individual member of a group feels an attraction to the group” (Harris and Sheblom, 2011, p. 48). In the beginning group cohesion produced positive results in Department 8101. Group cohesion could also create negative results and this becomes apparent when Rita their new supervisor is introduced.
When Rita was introduced to the department the group’s dynamics changed and the

breakdown of the department had begun. Terry already had a chip on his shoulder before he met Rita and stated “We’re going to have to break the S.O.B in quick so he does not get any weird ideas”. The group was fearful of the changes that could occur. Tubbs (2001) revealed their group expectations such as breaks, lunch and wash up time was extended compared to Plant Eight’s company guidelines and there was no repercussions for missing work.
On day one with their new supervisor Rita, their fears started to become reality. Rita evaluated the group but never took the time to receive any input from her employees. Tubbs (2001) stated “Rita called for a meeting to take place during our first break. During the, meeting, Rita said she had observed a few things in our department that she didn’t quite like” (p. 202). The group now had new expectations, they would no longer receive an extended break, lunch or wash up time and employees would be reprimanded for tardiness and missing work.
The group was now on edge and was not accepting of these changes. Helen stated, “That’s the way all women supervisors are-bossy”. Helen did not feel women should be in management positions. Terry stated, “We’ve got to get rid of her-she’s a power-crazy dyke”. Denny being the leader of the group tried to calm everyone down and stated “She’s new and inexperienced. Let’s give her a little time and she if she settles down and wises up”. The group agreed to give Rita another chance.
While the group gave Rita another chance she did not take the opportunity to learn why Department 8101 was so successful. Rita was concerned with her power as a manager and focused on wanting her employees to listen to her. Conflict began when Rita continued to change the groups’ expectations and implement punishment. Rita also left Denny out of any decision making and changes that she would make.

Harris, T. E., & Sherblom, J. C. (2011). Small group and team communication (5th ed.). Boston:
Pearson Education, Inc.

Tubbs, Stewart L. (2001). A systems approach to small group interaction, Case Study, pgs. 200 –
203, New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Reproduced with permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

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