MRWMD;Monterey Regional Waste Management District

.The Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) had humble beginnings in 1951 when forward thinking county officials had a vision of a better waste management system for the Monterey Peninsula, ending the era of unconditional garbage dumping that had prevailed.  From this time on, a Board of Directors has labored to ensure that the waste from Monterey Peninsula residents is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner that not only satisfies state and federal legal requirements, but ensures that the health of the peninsula is preserved for decades to come.

Currently the MRWMD disposes the household, business and industrial waste of more than 170,000 residents. Its purpose is to maximize the diversion of waste from landfill by following three simple steps:  reduce, reuse and recycle.  Reduce the amount of landfill by reusing waste products in their original form or by recycling them for other purposes.  The MRWMD mission embodies the values that the original county officials had in mind more than 50 years ago:

 

“Provide the highest quality, cost-efficient, integrated waste management services to the greater Monterey Peninsula, while preserving our environment and protecting public health through the reduction, reuse, recycling and safe disposal of our waste stream”

The aim of this paper is to assess whether MRWMD has a culture that supports the organization mission. This will be accomplished by investigating employee values, behaviors, beliefs and assumptions and conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis on the findings.

In order to properly analyze the beliefs, values, assumptions and behaviors of MWRMD employees – and by doing so identifying the MRWMD culture – it was necessary to conduct detailed interviews with a representation of the workforce. MRWMD currently employs 138 staff, of which 123 are full-time and 15 are part-time. Of these employees only 36 were interviewed, all of whom are full-time. The organization chart, with interviewee positions, is simplified on the following page.

It is important to note that due to time constraints I was unable to interview employees from all departments (headed by a Supervisor) and have made several assumptions. Firstly, that the beliefs, values, assumptions and behaviors of employees within specific divisions (headed by a Manager) are the same.  Second, that the employees not interviewed would have had similar opinions to those that were. Lastly, that a wide enough sample of employees were interviewed that individual biases would be identified as such and could then be excluded from further analysis.  A summary of the interviews, including starting questions, is attached at the annexes.

It became evident during the interview process that all MRWMD employees feel strongly about the impact that human waste is having on the environment and are staunch supporters of the organizations reduce, reuse and recycle philosophy. Every employee was proud to admit that they recycled at home and stated that working at MRWMD has only encouraged them to be more conscientious in their recycling efforts.  Although a majority of employees had been taught as children to recycle and were simply continuing the practice, the few that had not previously recycled at home stated that they only did so now because of the education they had received since becoming employed at the MRWMD.

In addition to recycling at home and at work, MRWMD employees also expressed a keen interest in furthering their efforts to save the environment through energy conservation and waste and pollution reduction. The employees felt that the organization did not promote energy conservation in its operations across all divisions adequately.  Examples given included internal lights and heaters being left on after business hours and leaking water taps not getting repaired promptly.  It was also felt that the organization created a lot of waste with duplicate copies of paperwork, single sided photocopying and inadequate use of electronic resources such as presentations, filing, and briefs.

MRWMD also does not have any system in place that actively encourages carpooling of employees. Although this final point was not initially raised by employees as a concern it received positive responses when mentioned as simply another way in which MRWMD could reduce its own impact on the environment. It was noted that some supervisors and managers have initiated and encouraged energy conservation and waste and pollution reduction within their own divisions and departments but that these practice were not actively maintained by the wider organization.

When questioned, every employee could recite the organization mission. Although the recitals were not exactly precise, the intent of the mission and purpose of the MRWMD was clearly understood. Often the employees embellished the mission to incorporate values that they felt were equally important.  Mission superfluities included:

providing education services to the community,

providing for the welfare and health of the employees, and

using cutting edge technology to enhance operations.

Of significance to every employee within the organization was personal safety. The safety measures and systems in each department and each division ensure that every employee has adequate personal protective equipment specific to their role within the organization.  Safety notices are placed in visible positions wherever a hazard or potential risk has been identified.  Safety rules are adhered to diligently, with all visitors expected to comply with the applicable safety requirements at each work location. This was illustrated on my tour of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) on two separate occasions.

The safety rewards program encourages the employees to think safe, act safe and be safe at all times. In the event of an accident each work location has copious first aid supplies that enable initial medical treatment for any conceivable injury.  Initial and ongoing first aid training is conducted by the organization on a yearly basis, with all employees feeling comfortable with the proficiency and speed of any initial medical treatment that they would receive or provide in an accident.

Employees feel that they make a valuable contribution to the organizations success and that they in turn are highly valued by MRWMD. Importantly, employees appreciated any opportunity provided where they could attend job specific training courses that would increase their skill levels.  Not so they would be more competitive in the wider industry, but so they could provide better input on operation improvements and play a greater role in aiding the MRWMD to achieve its mission.

An employee value that differed significantly between interviewees was the level of recognition expected and desired for job performance. The older employees felt that little formal recognition was required; you simply knew that you did a good job and an informal word of appreciation from a supervisor was sufficient. The younger employees, who make up a significant part of the work force, valued physical rewards and formal recognition highly.  The rewards by this group of employees were seen as recognition of the importance of the individual employee’s efforts towards achievement of the organization goals and had little value if no-one else knew about them.  Most important was recognition by a supervisor or a manager rather than recognition from a fellow employee.  The actual form in which this recognition took had less significance.

Along with recognition of good performances, employees value recognition of bad performances. Feedback from a supervisor or a manager indicates to the employees that their boss is sincerely interested in them as a person and how they are fitting into the organization.  Feedback after specific tasks have been completed, after applications for promotions and simply as a regular evaluation is valued by all employees at all levels.  It helps people assess their future direction, identifies their weaknesses and strengths and should include counseling as to how the employee can improve their weaknesses and make best use of their strengths to support the MRWMD mission.

Communications is a tool that can be used to ensure that the employees feel like they are a part of the organization, not simply workers but valued members of a family that are all aiming towards the same goals. Communications between employees is very important and the grape vine actively operating within MRWMD fulfils this need very well.  However, the grape vine is often inaccurate, full of personal bias and when relied upon excessively as a source of information can lead to organization conflict and tension.  Of greater importance are communication channels between managers and supervisors, managers and employees and supervisors and employees.

Employees and Supervisors value receiving information through the formal communication channels as it establishes information validity, removes the secrecy and mystery associated with information ‘black holes’ and can institute two-way communications flow. It is a vital means of establishing within the employees the sense that they are an important part of the MRWMD, because significant members of any family are always informed about what is happening within and to that family.  When information that an employee feels is valuable to them is received through the grape vine rather than through formal communication channels it diminishes in worth. This can have a detrimental impact on the employee’s performance if the information received concerns them or the department or division in which they work.

Strengths. The level of value congruence between the employees, supervisors, managers and the organization has resulted in a very high level of commitment to MRWMD.  Employee turnover is very low as the organization is meeting the majority of the employees needs by providing them with what they value the most.  Low employee turnover is creating a stable working environment, increasing the efficiency of operations within MRWMD.  Low levels of employee stress and high levels of employee satisfaction ensure that decisions made at MRWMD by supervisors and managers are compatible with the organization goals.

Weaknesses. MRWMD has no official stated values from either the previous General Manager (GM) or the current GM.  This means that supervisors and managers do not have any guidelines to follow as to what is important to the organization in the achievement of its mission.  Organization values dictate to managers, supervisors and employees the principles, morals and ideals that are important to MRWMD and are a powerful way to keep employees’ decision and actions aligned with the organization goals. They form a common bond and help to ensure that everyone in the organization – regardless of job or rank – has aligned goals .

Opportunities. The increasing dissimilarity between employee values, supervisor and manager values and the MRWMD’s values can be easily reversed, preventing any further erosion of the strengths gained from those values that have congruence.  Detailed further are strategies that can be implemented by MRWMD with little difficulty, have minimal financial costs and will afford immediate benefits to the organization.

Promulgate to all managers for distribution to all supervisors and employees methods that each department can implement to reduce internal waste (of resources and of time) and conserve energy. Signs reminding people to turn off lights, photocopiers and heaters for example prior to leaving the office for the day will lower electricity usage, leaving more generated electricity to be sold for MRWMD profits.

Encourage carpooling, or speak to the local public transport provider about getting a bus route changed so that public transport can be used by employees (this would need further studies regarding likely use by employees prior to implementation).

Produce MRWMD goals and values statements that match both employee and the Board of Directors’ expectations. Ensure that these are promulgated throughout the organization and that they follow the Management-by-Objectives principles by relating them to individual departments and divisions so that employees can see where they fit in and the part that they play in mission achievement.    It is important that the goals are measurable, specific and challenging if they are to be effective in guiding the organization towards mission success.

Immediately halt the practice that certain managers have of disregarding the safety requirements. Enforce the philosophy that safety regulations are equally applicable to a part-time MRF laborer as they are to the Administrative Services Manager.  Continual displays of safety breaches by mangers erode the strong safety culture that exists at present and will eventually lead to an increase in accidents.  Managers must accept that a junior employee has the authority to hand out safety violation notices and not assume that their own position exempts them from compliance with safety requirements.  Continue to encourage the improvements of the safety system through the management of the safety coordinator.

Implement a dual-layer safety program that recognizes the inherent risks of some positions within MRWMD over other positions. Plant operators, equipment operators and mechanics are exposed to safety risks more frequently than office workers and the safety rewards program should reflect the additional diligence these employees must take to remain accident free.

Provide greater personal safety to employees when they are entering and leaving the work site. Security lighting is required along the entrance road and in the car-parks to serve as a deterrent against attacks.  Improve the security of money handlers at the end of each day by implementing safe transferal practices that reduce the vulnerability a single person has of being attacked.

Reintroduce headache tablets, allergy tablets and other medical items of a personal nature into the first aid cabinets. Employees want to work their full days so that they are eligible for the attendance awards.  By removing these items as a cost saving measure the organization has increased partial days-off-work given to employees due to headaches or allergies.  This has meant that one of the MRWMD reward systems in place is becoming ineffective as employees no longer believe that the attendance reward is achievable. Where previously employees could treat minor illnesses at work and continue being productive they are now forced to go home and recover, thus removing the ability to achieve the attendance reward.

Ensure that all employees and supervisors have an equal opportunity to enhance their job performance through additional training. Encourage supervisors and managers to release employees to attend training programs even if in the short term this will decrease the department productivity.  The long term benefit will outweigh the short term inconvenience of loosing critical employees and the organization will benefit as a result.  Ensuring that all employees have an equal chance to attend job specific training courses will remove the resentment that is currently felt towards those in the administration building who, by way of their position within MRWMD, have greater opportunities than other employees.

Re-educate supervisors and managers about the importance of job performance feedback and consider implementing a modified rewards program. The MRF has an effective informal rewards system in place that can be used as an internal teaching model for supervisors and managers in other departments and divisions.  Ensure that managers delegate to supervisors the authority to reward or reprimand their employees and provide training to supervisors and managers on how the MRWMD reward system can be effectively used to modify employee behaviors.

Create a MRWMD policy on types and styles of feedback required by all employees by their supervisors or managers. Include yearly feedback and feedback for failed promotion applications.  Ensure that supervisors and managers are trained in the purpose and delivery of effective feedback.  Facilitate the introduction of a multi-channel feedback system for supervisors and managers.

Improve communication flow from the top of the organization to the bottom. Compel managers and supervisors to conduct their own staff meetings on a regular occurrence to distribute information.  Division employee meetings should be conducted the day after an organization staff meeting to convey information that the employees need and want to know.  Summaries should be placed on employee notice boards so that morning and afternoon workers are equally informed.  This will serve a dual purpose in allowing employees to verify that the information that is conveyed by supervisors and managers is the same as that being passed on the grape vine and reducing employee dependence on the grape vine as a source of information.  Employees will be more likely to ask their supervisors for clarification of rumors and the managers can be sure that the intent of any decision is properly understood.

Threats. The absence of stated MRWMD values leads the employees to doubt whether the organization rates as important the same things that they do.  Already there is growing employee dissatisfaction within MRWMD and it will not be long before this leads to higher employee turnover, a less stable workforce, less commitment to mission achievement at all levels and decision making by supervisors and managers that is not compatible with the organization goals. An example of this is the recent behavior and actions of the outgoing Site Superintendent.

Additionally, the growing resentment felt by non-administration building employees towards those who do work within this building, created by the perceived favoritism towards them in areas such as safety rewards, training opportunities and resource allocation, will quickly escalate. This increased hostility is already having a detrimental affect on division performance as employees not working within the administration building are increasingly unwilling to provide assistance, information or aid to those employees working within the administration building. Divisional cooperation is a necessity in the achievement of MRWMD mission and is decreasing as these hostilities continue.

When analyzing the employee behaviors within MRWMD I was particularly interested in the behavioral norms of each department and whether those norms were having a positive or negative effect on the organization. I was also interested in whether behavior norms extended past the boundaries imposed by the organization structure, i.e. whether the different departments and divisions within MRWMD had any common behavioral norms.

The camaraderie exists between employees and in some cases between employees and supervisors or employees and managers was highly visible during the interview process. Employees felt that they were working as part of a greater team in the achievement of the organization mission and that they would be supported in their efforts by their fellow workmates.  Within the MRF division and individual Site department’s employees felt that their supervisors and managers were approachable, had realistic expectations and would make decisions with the employees and the organizations best interests at heart.

This camaraderie was interdivisional at employee, supervisor and manager level with notable exceptions. The administrative services manager and administrative support supervisor, the senior engineer, the public education coordinator, the finance/information systems manager and the assistant site superintendent (ASS) were viewed by employees, supervisors and other managers as being distant and aloof.  I was unable to ascertain whether this impression had come about from any particular actions of the listed parties or was simple a result in differing personality types but it was apparent during the interviews that these people are often excluded from organization jokes, smaller departmental activities and access to the grape vine.  It did appear that some of this enmity may be personality conflict driven at the supervisor and manager level and is simply having a flow on effect to the employee level.

There exists within all divisions a strong reliance upon an informal mentoring program. Perhaps because many of the senior employees, supervisors and managers have worked their way up through the organization or for some other reason, it exists without any formal directive from the GM.  Senior employees take it upon themselves to teach new employees to the organization, and new employees to different positions, the ‘tricks of the trade’.  Whether in the plant operators department, where senior operators teach the new operators the best way to batter a berm.  Or perhaps within the Last Chance Mercantile (LCM), with the senior clerks letting the new clerks know the easiest way to sort the incoming goods.   This mentoring is a display of pride that the employees take in the work they perform and a desire for all other employees to be equally proud of their own work.

MRWMD has a dominant safety culture. All employees are aware of the importance of taking safety seriously and that their actions are being constantly monitored by their supervisors and managers.  To ensure that employee behavior is always aligned to the safety philosophy, MRWMD has in place a reward system that covers two of the contingencies of reinforcement.  For every day that an employee is accident free they will receive safety points which they can then use to purchase clothing items from MRWMD. This is a form of positive reinforcement and encourages the safe behavior to continue. Whenever a safety breach is noticed the offender will receive a safety violation notice.  This will reduce the amount of safety points that the offender had accumulated and result in a reprimand from the offender’s supervisor or manager.  This is a form of punishment and encourages employees to avoid any type of behavior that caused accidents .  This safety point system has had a huge impact on employee behavior.  There are now three incentives to be safe: for your own health and that of others, to gain safety points and to ensure that you do not loose safety points. A common behavior norm at MRWMD is that individual employees are responsible to themselves to ensure that they are working in a clean environment, that they have the necessary stationary stores, that their vehicles are refueled and other mundane daily activities. Amongst no division or department did any of the employees indicate that their supervisors or managers had delegated these routine chores to another person.  Indeed, the employees were quite vocal regarding what they would do (or imagine they would do) if tasked by a supervisor to do these tasks without a secondary reason.  While they would be happy to do these chores if required due to the supervisor’s workload, or if the supervisor was unable for some reason to do them himself, they would not expect to be asked to do the chores simply because of their lower employee status.

There is a significant amount of micromanagement occurring within two divisions of MRWMD, each with its own apparent causes. The ASS, perhaps because he is one of the few supervisors or managers that have not been with the organization for a long time, appears to have little trust in the capabilities of his departmental supervisors.  Due to time constraints I was unable to interview the ASS and am only able to make an educated analysis based on the interviews of several of the supervisors under him.

The supervisors felt that they were hampered by the ASS who did not listen to any of their opinions or treat their advice with due concern. They felt that they were unable to reward or reprimand their employees without approval by the ASS and that he did not support their recommendations for MRWMD job performance rewards at staff meetings.  It appeared that the ASS did not provide clear guidance, directions or goals to his supervisors but would frequently reprimand them for poor work performance that had resulted from poor management on his behalf.  They did not feel that the ASS took responsibility for his own decisions and had a habit of laying blame on the supervisors.  The recent departure of the Site Superintendent (SS) made it difficult to establish whether these difficulties were personality based or through the ASS being hampered in his own management by the SS

There were several behavioral norms within the Finance/Information Systems (FIS) division that were not present amongst any of the other divisions or departments within MRWMD, all of which gave the impression that this division is being micromanaged by the FIS manager (FISM). The FISM has been with the organization for over 10 years and has expected standards from his employees that were not observed at any other department or division at MRWMD during the interview process.   Some of the behavioral norms within the accounts department, which is managed by the FISM, include the inability for employees to throw out any packaging for purchased items and the requirement to staple documents in a certain manner.  While initially these norms seemed trivial, upon further investigation it became apparent that they had a large influence on the productivity of the accounts department and were only an indication of a larger problem.

The FISM receives his power from various sources. He has legitimate, reward and coercive power granted to him through his position in the organization and he has expert power, obtained through his length of time with the MRWMD and extensive knowledge regarding the operations of other divisions and departments.  There is no doubt that the position of the FISM is that of an information gate keeper.  The holder of this position is able to maintain control over the behavior of other people within the organization by restricting their access to information and by filtering information that goes to the GM and other managers .  There is no doubt that the current occupant is in part enacting this power.  Supervisors reported having great difficulty in obtaining through the FISM any financial information as it relates to their departments that they requested so that they could assess their own strengths and weaknesses and potentially identify cost saving measures for the organization.

Additionally, it appears that the FISM provides his supervisors little opportunity to exercise their own authority. His employees reported during the interview process that they were frustrated that requests forwarded to their supervisors had a lengthy delay in any response and that they did not feel it was worth their effort to report suggestions or opinions to their supervisors as it would get little reaction. The employees then clarified their comments and suggested that it was not the fault of the supervisors but that of the FISM.  They felt that their supervisors were hampered by the FISM and that the supervisors were unable to make any decisions, grant any requests or even manage their own people without first having the FISM approve the proposals. Although I was not able to speak to the scales supervisor or the FISM to verify this information, it fit into the character profile that was building.

Due to the workload of the FISM, in May 2004 an additional position was created to separate the accounting department and the scales department from the FISM’s direct command, allowing the FISM to concentrate his efforts towards Information Systems Management. The extent to which the FISM has taken his information gatekeeping is such that after eight months in the position, the new accounting manager still has little control or authority over his employees.  The FISM does not appear to have passed the responsibilities previously granted to him over to the accounting manager, rather the FISM appears to play on the insecurities that a new employee has to hold the accounting manager back, and prevent him from fulfilling his potential.  I can only presume that this is done in some way to preserve the power base that the FISM currently has.  The FISM has created the impression that his expert knowledge cannot be shared or learnt by others, thus allowing the power base that he has established to continue unabated.  As he is also the communications filter out of his division it appears that little of his management style is apparent to others.

The other problem identified with the FISM during the interview process is that he has the power to hold back implementation of new systems and procedures that would generate greater efficiency and smoother operations within the accounting department. His control over information flow in to and out of the division is potentially hiding this delay from other managers and the GM.  Alternatively, the FISM is in the position to use information control, which is intentionally misleading others by providing selective information out of the FIS division.  The FISM’s management style and control of information has affected the behaviors of his employees in that they are now more concerned with pleasing the FISM than they are with supporting the other divisions to help achieve the MRWMD mission.

Strengths. The behavior norms seen throughout the MRWMD are reflective of a strong culture where support for fellow employees is important, safety is always at the forefront of every employees mind when carrying out tasks and performing their duties and where friendships and communication channels are intermingled throughout hierarchy levels and amongst divisions and departments.  These have combined to provide a strong employee group that collectively wants what is best for the organization and are happy to work together to achieve the MRWMD mission.   The organization has implanted an effective system for modifying employee behavior by using positive reinforcement and punishment in a combined rewards program that has had an impressive success in reducing injuries and accidents on the work site.

Weaknesses. The effectiveness of the safety reward system is reduced when it is not being applied equally to all employees.  Some managers seem to feel that their position of authority entitles them to behave in a manner not acceptable for other employees, that the safety violation notices are not meant to modify their behavior only that of others.  This disregard of safety requirements and refusal to accept safety violations by some managers erodes the behavior modification success of the rewards program as employees will often follow the example set by the management team.

The individual departments and divisions are able to work effectively as a team as each employee knows that they are only required to do their little part in the bigger picture, and with each person pulling their own weight the goals are easier to achieve. When some managers imply by their actions and requests that they are superior to the employees and supervisors by virtue of their position it separates them from the team effort.  Employees no longer feel that they are working as part of a team; rather, they resent the additional burden that is being placed upon them by managers who do not want to do their own menial routine chores.  Specific example is the habit of some mangers to expect that it is the job of the site department to refill their personal work vehicle throughout the week instead of the accepted Friday afternoon only.  This request, motivated not by lack of ability on behalf of the manager but mere avoidance of an unpleasant task, shows a lack of respect by the managers to the skills and abilities of the site crew.  By treating a part of the organization team as employees whose only purpose is the menial, dirty jobs that no-one else wants to do the managers responsible are slowly but surely crumbling the strong team culture that currently exists.

Micromanagement in any form is inefficient use of the skills, abilities and capabilities that supervisors have that allowed them to be promoted to these positions. It disestablishes the authority that the supervisors have over their employees, increases tension between the supervisor and manager (which is visible to the employees and mirrored), results in greater stress for the manager who is effectively performing the job of more than one person and creates an atmosphere of distrust and confusion.

An information gatekeeper who is actively using this power base to control behaviors of others will negatively effect the organization in a multitude of ways. The departments under the information gatekeeper are isolated from the wider organization and will spend more time achieving the manager’s goals rather than working as part of a wider team and contributing to the organization’s goals.  Those relying on information from the gatekeeper will not trust its accuracy, will be faced with avoidable delays that will further reduce efficiency and will begin to resent the power that the gatekeeper holds.  Although it is extremely important for the GM to understand how his divisions and departments are operating, this cannot occur if the information gatekeeper chooses to assert information control and deliberately mislead others by denying them access to crucial information.

Opportunities. The organization has a very good culture that has propagated throughout each of the divisions and departments with the exception of a minor few.  By ensuring that all managers and supervisors follow the same behavioral norms that are expected from the employees, controlling the inappropriate use of the site department and by closely monitoring the management styles of key position holders the organization will continue to build upon its current strengths and achieve its mission more efficiently.  In addition, by ensuring that managers utilize their supervisors effectively the MRWMD will be further developing its people so that they are more capable of dealing with and implementing change in the future.

Threats. Without arresting the behavioral norms that are developing in specific departments that are not aligned with the behavioral norms of the rest of the organization, the MRWMD is running the risk of allowing counter-cultures to form within these departments.  Counter-cultures have goals and objectives that are in conflict with those of the organization’s dominant culture and will reduce the level of interdepartmental and interdivisional teamwork that is essential for MRWMD to achieve its mission.

Generally the assumptions are difficult to decipher. Even with a full investigation and analysis of the prevalent cultures at organization, division and department level they may not be observed by the interviewer and will not be mentioned by the interviewees due to their ingrained nature. Given that my analysis of MRWMD was curtailed by time and personal depth of experience I was not expecting to be able to identify any underlying assumptions that exist within the organization.  I was able to identify a single assumption that seems to epitomize the MRWMD culture, although I am sure there are others.

Employees at every level within MRWMD assume that their position is theirs until they die or choose to move on. Very few employees leave the organization, many who do often come back within a short period as they have missed the benefits, atmosphere, purpose and camaraderie that exist at MRWMD.  No employee interviewed could mention an instance that they were aware of where another employee had been fired or demoted.  Even employees that act in a manner that does not befit the position they hold, deliberately undermine the organization culture or actively work against the organization goals are not dismissed.  Rather, the MRWMD allows the employee to retire or resign.

Strengths. This assumption supports the length of service that many employees have with MRWMD.  The benefits of a stable workforce are plentiful.  Employees are able to grow with the organization as they have seen where it has been and are more able to visualize where it needs to go.  Social networks are strengthened as employees move into different departments or are promoted.  Employees become extremely familiar with the operation process and are more capable of being utilized in multifunction roles.  Employees have greater opportunity to learn and develop their skills to perform their jobs better.  Stress amongst the supervisors and managers are reduced as they are responsible for a team that has worked together previously and they know individual strengths and weaknesses of team members.  Supervisors and managers are in a better position to judge how their employees will perform when under stress or in changing conditions and maximize performance at all times.  Efficiency will be improved and the organization will achieve its goals more easily due to the higher levels of cohesion amongst the workforce.

Weaknesses. The numerous strengths that arise out of having a stable, more permanent workforce are, in part, neutralized by the corresponding weaknesses that can simultaneously result.  Employees become set in their ways, are comfortable with their job descriptions and tasks and will be more resistant to change.  Social friendships that are formed early in an employees career can continue to affect his decisions and actions in the future, which may not always be in the best interest of the organization.  Personality conflicts between employees can become personality conflicts between managers, which will then negatively effect the emotions of other employees around them.  Secrets will not stay secrets as the established grape vine will continue passing innuendo, personal bias and tales from department to department. Often the workforce may fail to recognize the change in a fellow employee’s position or not agree with a promotion.  The friendship networks that have been established over time will cause employees to take sides on a range of disagreements; causing partitions to develop that do not support the team culture.

Opportunities. Employees should be encouraged to improve their skills and abilities by seeking employment outside of MRWMD, these employees can then return to the organization with greater knowledge and capabilities at some future time.  This will allow the social dynamics of the workforce to expand yet still allow the return of the employee into a new position.  It will also ensure that the MRWMD is continually employing the best workers who are best able to contribute to the growing organization and work towards achieving the goals and missions.

Employees should be encouraged to change positions between departments to broaden their understanding of the operation process and allow wider social networks to develop. This will alleviate any growing tensions between departments or divisions and provide the organization with a more flexible workforce.  The informal mentor program that is occurring should be formalized so that information and knowledge is shared around the workplace, preventing the loss of corporate knowledge when an employee does move to another division or another place of employment

MRWMD should make it clear to employees what grounds exist for termination of services. When an employee is fired because of inappropriate behavior, poor job performance or other actions the workforce should be informed of the failure so that other employees can modify their own behaviors so that a similar fate does not befall them.  Discretion should be used where possible, but management should note the strength of the organization grape vine and the potential for inaccurate information to be channeled via this source.

MRWMD should sponsor more team building events that allow employees to display their strengths and abilities outside their normal job roles. This will foster greater teamwork within the organization and reduce employee differences that are impacting on efficiency within the MRWMD.

Threats. The organization must ensure that it does not weight too heavily the benefits gained from having current employees take up supervisor and manager positions without also assessing the detrimental affects.  By promoting employees into leadership positions based on experience with the organization and the position applied for, the MRWMD will find itself in the situation where they have a lot of managers yet no leaders.

Allowing employee personality conflicts to simmer over the years as those employees are promoted through the organization will result in fractions developing as other employees take sides and lend support to a particular manager over another. Care must be taken that maturity prevails and that employees with personal disputes amongst themselves can still be trusted to act in the organizations best interest without letting personal emotions cloud judgment.

The analysis of the MRWMD is a thorough as possible given the time and experience limitations, with a lot of guesswork and assumptions made on individual opinions and the wider organization implication by myself during the SWOT sections of my report. It is clear however, that the MRWMD has a robust culture that is supporting the informal organization goals, merging employee, supervisor and management values and assisting with the efficient and effective operations of the MRWMD.

The key elements of the MRWMD culture that are providing this support will only be strengthened by intervention in those areas outlined in this paper. The organization’s commitment to employee satisfaction, safety around the workplace, job performance rewards and creating a family environment where team cohesiveness is of principal importance should be continued through the leadership and management of the new GM.  Additionally, by ensuring that counter-cultures are not created within departments and promulgating clear guidance from the GM and other managers on the organization values and goals will only reinforce the belief that the employees have in the MRWMD and ensure their continued commitment to the achievement of the organization mission.

“Provide the highest quality, cost-efficient, integrated waste management services to the greater Monterey Peninsula, while preserving our environment and protecting public health through the reduction, reuse, recycling and safe disposal of our waste stream”

 

 

Bibliography:

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Ibbott, Carrissa, Interviews with MRWMD Staff, 25 February 2005

 

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Marquis, B et al, “Leadership Roles and Management Functions in Nursing Theory & Application”, 5th Edition, Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2003

 

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Taylor, Hugh, “A Transformation in the Archives: Technological Adjustment or Paradigm Shift?”, Archivaria 25, Winter 1987-88

 


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