Understanding the main points. 1. Decide whether the following statements are true or false.



1. Decide whether the following statements are true or false.

 

1. Alfred Sloan’s book was mainly about the organizational

  problems of General Motors                                                            T/F

2. In a decentralized company most key functions are the

  responsibility of the head office.                                                      T/F

3. The majority of companies have either a totally centralized

  or decentralized structure.                                                                 T/F

4. William Durant and Alfred Sloan had a completely different

    approach to running General Motors.                                               T/F

5. Alfred Sloan believed in what could be called “coordinated

  decentralisation”.                                                                               T/F

6. When Alfred Sloan joined General Motors he established

  a new system which gave Head Office more control of the

  corporation’s finances.                                                                       T/F

 

2. Note down the benefits which a company can gain by decentralizing.

  

1. ………………………………………………………………………………….

  ………………………………………………………………………………….

2. ………………………………………………………………………………….

  ………………………………………………………………………………….

3. ………………………………………………………………………………….

  ………………………………………………………………………………….

4. ………………………………………………………………………………….

  ………………………………………………………………………………….

 

3. Explain what Charles Handy meant when he said, “It is one thing to prescribe

diversity, decentralization and differentiation. It is another to manage it”.

 

 

LANGUAGE STUDY

 

1. Find the words or phrases in the text which have the same meaning as the

following definitions.

 

DEFINITIONS WORD or PHRASE
1. the right to make decisions or give instructions ………………………
2. the employment of new staff ………………………
3. became responsible for ………………………
4. started, established ………………………
5. complete in itself ………………………
6. raise or introduce a subject (for discussion) ………………………
7. move or act slowly (often on purpose) ………………………
8. transferring or giving ………………………
9. gave official permission ………………………
10. freedom to act independently ………………………
11. something everybody is talking about ………………………
12. removing somebody’s incentive or desire to do well ………………………
13. fixing objectives ………………………
14. adaptable ………………………
15. adopt a middle position between ………………………
16. emphasises ………………………
17. things a company believes in and considers very important   ………………………
18. ability to assess a situation and decide on what action to take independently   ………………………

  

2. Complete the following sentences with suitable forms of the words in the box

below.

 

authorise authority control function autonomy
innovate innovative delegate delegation initiative

    

1. In many department store groups, buying and finance are two ………………..

  which are handled by Head Office.

 

2. Managers who like power find it difficult to ……………….. responsibility.

 

3. To stay competitive, high technology firms must constantly ………………..,

  or else their products become out of date.

 

4. When you delegate authority in a business, you lose a degree of ……………..

  over certain functions.

 

5. In some multinational organisations, subsidiaries are given a great deal of

  ……………….. – they rarely have to consult Head Office.

 

6. ……………….. firms often make the mistake of not concentrating enough on

  marketing.

 

7. In our factory, the General Manager is ……………….. to spend up to

  $1,000 a month on repairs and maintenance.

 

8. I like my staff to make decisions for themselves, but they seem afraid

  to show any ……………….. .

 

3. Phrasal verbs with bring.

A.  Match the following verbs with the correct definitions.

 

1. bring up a) reduce
2. bring out b) persuade someone to change his/her opinion
3. bring about c) raise, mention a matter
4. bring round to d) cause to happen
5. bring down e) put on the matter

B. Complete the following passage with suitable verbs from the list above.

 

At our management meeting, the Marketing Manager ……………….. (1) the

subject of our new lawnmower, the PX2 model. He mentioned that sales had

been disappointing. The Production Manager said that problems with the PX2

had been ……………….. (2) by bad timing. We had put the mower on the

market at the wrong time of the year. However, he also thought the mower was

too expensive. We should ……………….. (3) its price, he thought. He presented

his arguments well and, in the end, ……………….. almost everyone ………(4)

to his point of view. Finally, the Chairman gave his opinion. He advised us to

forget about the PX2. In his view, it was a lemon! He thought we should

……………….. (5) an entirely new model – something that would be a real

breakthrough, technologically speaking.

 

Which words in the above passage mean

 

a) not as good as expected?

  ……………………………………………………………………………………..

b) to introduce a new product?

  ……………………………………………………………………………………..

c) a failure (slang)?

  ……………………………………………………………………………………..

d) an important development or discovery?

  ……………………………………………………………………………………..


 

UNIT 11 COMMUNICATIONS

DISCUSSION

Read the following conversation and then discuss the questions below.

 

David Johnston, General Manager of Northern Textiles Ltd, visits the Supplies Department to talk to Valerie Harper. Valerie has been working in the department for about a year.

JOHNSTON Hello Valerie. Just dropped by to check that those spare parts have  

                     arrived – the ones for the cutting machines.

HARPER The spare parts? Oh, yes. Look, I’m sorry …

JOHNSTON What? Don’t tell me … Oh, no!

HARPER I’m really sorry. I called Jack Peters at Humber Engineering, but

                     there’s been some sort of go-slow at the factory – some dispute

                     over overtime pay – and they just can’t meet all their orders.

JOHNSTON Come on, Valerie, you can do better than that. It’s your job to

                     make sure spare parts get here on time.

HARPER Yes, but surely …

JOHNSTON No ‘Yes, but’s. You’re a university graduate, aren’t you? I thought

                     you people knew how to solve problems – anyway, that’s what

                     you told me at your interview.

 HARPER I tried one or two other firms. The trouble is, these machines are

                     really old. No one seems to be making spare parts for them any

                     more.

JOHNSTON    Nonsense, try some more firms. And, if you have to, lean hard on

                    Jack Peters. We’re one of his best customers.

 HARPER All right. But to be honest …

JOHNSTON That’s more like it. You can go far in this company if you have the

                     right attitude, Valerie. Now, you will have those parts here by

                     Monday, won’t you?

 HARPER Er … yes, Mr Johnston.

JOHNSTON Great. How’s the boyfriend these days? The one I met at the office

                     party.

 HARPER Oh Tom? He’s fine, thanks.

JOHNSTON Glad to hear it. OK, Valerie, don’t let me keep you from your

                     work.

HARPER OK, Mr Johnston, fine.

 

1. Are David Johnston and Valerie Harper communicating effectively?

2. If not, how could they improve communications between them?

READING

 

In recent years, few books on management have been more acclaimed than In Search of Excellence. Written by two business consultants, Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman, the book identified factors which have accounted for the success of some of America’s best-run companies. Forty-three top companies were studied. Many examples of the experiences of these organizations are given in the book. These provide useful lessons for all managers.

    

One of the points made by the writers is that communications in excellent companies are different from those in other companies. Excellent companies have a “vast network of informal, open communications”. People working in them keep in contact with each other regularly. They meet often, and have many unscheduled meetings. In the best-run businesses, few barriers exist to prevent people talking to each other. The companies do everything possible to ensure that staff meet easily and frequently.

 

The authors give many examples to back up their view. For instance, one day, they visited the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M). They soon noticed that there were a lot of casual meetings going on with “salespeople, marketing people, manufacturing people – even accounting people – sitting around, chattering about new product problems… It went on all day – people meeting in a seemingly random way to get things done”. One of the 3M executives told the authors, “We just plain talk to each other a lot without a lot of paper or formal rigmarole”.

 

The book is full of examples of companies who believe in “keeping in touch”: firms like IBM where the Chairman personally answers any complaint which is addressed by members of staff; other companies where managers are encouraged to get out of the office and walk around and some which make a point of informality, like Walt Disney Productions, where everyone wears a name-tag with his/her first name on it.

 

One problem with communication is that people think they have got their message across when in fact they have not. We do not, in fact, communicate as effectively as we think we do. Several studies have shown this. In 1954, a study was made of a production department in a British company. The department manager believed he had given “instruction or decisions in 165 out of 236 episodes, but his subordinates considered they had received instruction on only 84 occasions”. Research done by Rensis Likert in 1961 showed that 85% of the supervisors thought their subordinates felt free to discuss important things with them. However, only 51% of the employees agreed with this opinion!

 

This finding is important for managers. It suggests that, when giving instructions, managers must make sure that those instructions have been understood and interpreted correctly.

 

A breakdown in communication is quite likely to happen if there is some kind of “social distance” between people. In organizations, people may have difficulty communicating if they are different in status, or if one person has a much higher position than the other. For example, a couple of production workers will probably speak frankly to each other about things that are going wrong in their department. But if the Chief Executive of the company passes by and asks how things are going, they’ll probably say, “Just fine, thank you”. It is risky to tell the truth to someone higher up in the hierarchy – they may not like what they hear and hold it against you.

 

For this reason, staff often “filter” information. They deliberately alter the facts, telling the boss what he/she wants to hear. They do not want to give bad news, so they give their superior too good an impression of the situation. “The project’s coming along fine,” they say, when in fact it is a month behind schedule!

 

There’s nothing new about all this. One thinks of Cleopatra and the problem she had in her military campaigns. She used to give gold to messengers bringing good news, but executed those bringing bad news. It is not surprising, therefore, that the information she received was unreliable!

 

One way of reducing social distance – and improving communications – is to cut down on status symbols. It is possible, for example, to have a common dining-room for all staff. It is worth noting, too, that in Japanese companies, it is common for all the staff to wear uniforms.

 

Physical surroundings and physical distance limit or encourage communication. Studies show that the further away a person is, the less he/she communicates. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Thomas Allen studied the effect of location on communication in engineering and research departments. He showed that if people were more than ten metres apart, the probability of communicating at least once a week was about 8%. When they were five metres apart, the probability was 25%.

 

The physical layout of an office must be carefully planned. Open-plan offices are designed to make communication easier and quicker. However, it is interesting to note that employees in such offices will often move furniture and other objects to create mini-offices.

 

Excellent companies use space to create good communications. The Corning Glass Company in the United States installed escalators, rather than lifts, in their new engineering building because they wanted to increase the chances of employees meeting face-to-face.

Another important barrier to communication is selective perception. Put simply, this means that people perceive things in different ways. The world of the sender is not the same as the world of the receiver. Because their knowledge and experience is different, sender and receiver are always on slightly different wavelengths. Therefore, a manager will say something, but the employee will interpret his meaning incorrectly. The message becomes distorted. For example, the manager said, “Your people seem to be having some problems getting their work out on time. I want you to look into this situation and straighten it out”. He wanted his subordinate to talk to his people and find out what the problem was and then jointly solved it. But the subordinate heard, “I don’t care how many heads you bust, just get me that output. I’ve got enough problems around here without you screwing things up too”.

 

Communication problems will arise, from time to time, in the best-run companies. However, to minimize such problems, managers must remember one thing. Communication should be a two-way process. Managers should encourage staff to ask questions and to react to what the managers are saying. Feedback is essential. The most useful question a manager can ask is “Did you understand that?”

 


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