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Employee Satisfaction and High Performance Assignment

Question 1. Would you consider Woodside a relations-oriented or a task-oriented leader? Discuss in detail.

Solution:

A leader is someone who induces action and is able to influence people around them which leads to change (McCleskey, 2014). A leader can be categorised into two sub-categories, relations-oriented and task oriented. This essay would be arguing whether Woodside is a relations-oriented leader or a task-oriented leader.

Woodside appears to be a relation-oriented leader as he cares for his subordinates more than what he is supposed to do along with maintaining a good relationship with them. In addition, some factors that define this would be performance recognition, friendliness and approachable along with doing small favours for groups as well as showing emotional support for your subordinates (Yukl, 2012). For example, he would work late or even come in on the weekend to help his colleagues finish certain assignments, as they may be having problems at home. This shows that Woodside portrays the characteristics of a relation-oriented leader.

Relation-oriented behaviours shown by leaders also lead to increase satisfaction of subordinates (Mahsud, Yukl and Prussia, 2010). Since Woodside has developed a relationship with his colleagues, it means that he does not have to do much hand-holding for them to get certain tasks done, which translates to more productivity. His excellent performance as well as promotion over time can be considered evidence of him being a successful relationship orientation leader. The strongest evidence for him being a relationship-oriented leader is the fact that he has been covering for a subpar employee, George, who has a drinking problem. This suggests that he is willing to tolerate subpar performance to prevent interpersonal problems.

While his own hardworking behaviour as well as stellar performance suggests that he may be a task-oriented leader, deeper analysis suggests that doesn't appear to be the case. It is clear from the case that while he holds high expectations of himself, he does care for his employees, and makes an attempt to pick up the slack as and when it is needed. A task-oriented leader is less likely to tolerate his subordinate's inability to complete work and listen to their personal problems (Hakan, Kiliclar and Yazicioglu, 2013).

One thing of note is that so far, through hard work or staying late, Woodside has been able to ensure the work is completed on time and his performance remains high even if he is not pushing the subordinates to complete all tasks. If and when his span of control increases, he is unlikely to be able to ensure all tasks are completed by sacrificing his own personal time alone and his decision to focus on completing tasks or continuing to tolerate subpar performance will determine much more conclusively whether he is a task-oriented or relationship-oriented leader.

Thus, it is actually favourable for Woodside to be modelling both relational as well as task focused leadership. Though based on our findings, the primary style that is more prominent in the case study is that of relation-oriented leadership. While Woodside does display task-oriented leadership qualities, it appears that the way he naturally leads is relational, understanding the importance of caring for his subordinates as well as establishing healthy relationships.

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Question 2. If you were the Research Director at Sunshine, what would you do to achieve both high employee satisfaction and high performance? Discuss in detail.

Solution:

Employee satisfaction has a positive impact on the organisational outcomes, mostly because an enterprise is dependent on the quality of work that is done by the workers (Dugguhand Dennis, 2014). The Blake Mouton Managerial Grid is an essential tool that helps understand the relationship between employee satisfaction and high performance.

Blake and Mounton Managerial Grid.jpg

Figure 1: The Blake and Mounton Managerial Grid

The Blake and Mouton managerial grid is a concept introduced by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton. (Hakan, Kiliclar and Yazicioglu, 2013) As seen in Figure 1, the grid is depicted by 2 axis. The X-axis being Concern for Results and the Y-axis is being concern for People. Each axis has a value from 0 - 9, giving a total of 81 possible scenarios of leadership styles which falls under 5 major leadership styles:

1. Impoverished Management (1,1)
2. Task Management (9,1)
3. Middle-of the-Road (5,5)
4. Country Club (1,9)
5. Team Management (9,9)

From the case study, we can see that the subordinates in Sunshine Snacks follow Harmon Davis ever since the previous Research and Development Director, Henry Meade started to slow down. Therefore, Harmon Davis has earned the respect of his subordinates over the past years of them working together. When Henry Meade finally retired, Harmon Davis was passed over for the job position that was given to Woodside. Hence, the subordinates are unhappy in which they feel that Davis is superior in the technical knowledge and that Woodside did not deserve the position of Research Director.

If I were the Research Director at Sunshine, in order to achieve both high employee satisfaction and high performance, I would personally adopt the Team Management style (9,9) as shown in Figure 1. This style would be most suitable for me as it places emphasis on having high concern for employees while having high concern for results as in seen Figure 1.

Communication is an essential skill for a manager as it allows managers to identify problems early, avoid any form of misunderstanding and build trust among the team (De Vries, Bakker-Pieper and Oostenveld, 2010). When a leader shows concern about its followers through communication, it will create a comfortable working environment where employees are open to sharing ideas in meetings (Gruman and Saks, 2011). From the case study, we can see that Sunshine Snacks is eager to increase its profits through new projects. By building up the relationships with the employees, we will be able to achieve the organisational expectations.

In addition to using this management style, I would strive to motivate my subordinates to work hard alongside me. Of all the functions that a leader performs, motivating employees is the most important and complex task (Almansour, 2012). By explaining to them what the organisation goals are at Sunshine Snacks, they will feel included and thus more willing to work with me to achieve the organisation goals.

In conclusion, having a Team Management leadership approach to the employees can lead to several advantages among the team. With proper communication, trust issues among the team can be resolved and this can further strengthen the working relationship amongst the team leading to higher productivity and relationships.

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