Classical Management Perspective was constructed based on the management theories proposed by American Frederick Taylor, Frenchman Henri Fayol and German Max Weber. They focused on maximizing productivity and profit for organization. And as a result they did not focus on the human factor. The employees were treated as any other machine or resources, they were replaceable. Managers considered the employees to be lazy and unmotivated, hence they were micro managed with reward-punishment tactics. Bureaucracy gave birth to top down management and communication, where employees were supposed to do whatever they were instructed by supervisors. As a result supervisors mistreated and abused employees. And the organizations failed to maintain productivity and growth.
Human Relations Perspective focuses on what was missing from classical management perspective that is the human factor. The managers treat employee as valuable counterparts, assuming them to be responsible and motivated. Employees are encouraged to share ideas and take part in organizational decision making. And that is how human relationship motivates employees and boosts productivity. This is elaborate form of “Hawthorne effect”, employees enjoy the attention they get from management, they feel cared for and they feel motivated to do more and be more productive.
Human resources perspective is better than human relations perspective. Human relations perspective talked about making employees feel like they are cared for, but that does not make the management actually care about the employees. Human resources perspective was designed to support flat hierarchies, increased employee participation, quality control and teamwork. Employees actually got involved in decision making process along with the management.
System perspective acknowledges an organization to be a system and communication is actually the organization (Eisenberg & Goodall). Communication among participants in an organization help make sense of unpredictable situations. To make an organization exist it is critical to maintain the interactions going. The communication is more important that the message or the meaning. Systems theory focuses on the interdependence of the people / employees in an organization and the outcome of the communication among them.
Cultural perspective is bit different from the systems perspective. It focuses on the climate of the organization. This climate is result of shared values and beliefs, common practices, skills and actions, rules and some organization wide assumptions. Climate is more about the mood employees have and the parameters are diverse, such as satisfaction with the pay, satisfaction with coworkers, supervisor and it is subjective, might vary employee to employee. As Gibb identified the better climate is supportive and lead to member satisfaction.
- What theoretical perspective did the last organization (I worked for) take towards its workers?
After studying all 5 theories I could see some similarities with the “Cultural perspective” but mostly I could relate with “human resource perspective”. But I think all organizations would be able to relate to or use System or cultural perspective of communication to some extent. So, the organization I am part of or was part of, have cultural and systematic communication. I work in an IT consulting firm and I am part of a team. And as a team member I think we have more of human resource communication day to day.
As part of the team with a manager, we follow a MBO and we have a quality control in place to make sure we deliver quality product. In our regular meetings everyone is encouraged to share status of assignment and share ideas or solutions. So we as employees feel more comfortable and valued. Mostly these are the major similarities. Until the project is over keeping the team in place is also somewhat critical for smooth execution of the project.
For bigger projects we interact with other teams within organization or outside of our own organization, we follow certain protocol but to achieve a common goal, in most of the cases to deliver a product for our common client. And without the interaction, it would be impossible to deliver anything. For example, the applications would integrate with each other and regardless of which organization we belong, the teams working on the projects would have to interact. In this cases, I can see some similarities with system communication.
And when we join the organization we went through onboarding training that gave an overview on the company and the culture. For example, we were specifically told not to make any joke as I work for an MNC and people from different countries and cultures work, so one might find a joke offensive. So my current organization has a culture of not making crude jokes. Or another example from my previous company, being mindful of accent, it was an MNC too and people might find it hard to follow any heavy accent. These are small examples of cultural perspective of communication in organizations.
What was it like working within the boundaries of that perspective?
Personally, I have found bureaucracy to be frustrating at times as it slows the processes down. Say for example, I apply for a vacation at it goes to my manager for approval, and unless my vacation days are approved, I cannot use the vacation days that I earn. But I do realize the importance of it, as a manager, it is important for supervisors to make sure that all employees do not go on vacation on same time.
Another example would be I have worked in teams where managers took a top-down approach and team members working in those teams did not have much say. The climate becomes suffocating. And it is hard to change such climate in a team where managers are autocratic. I would not say this was a cultural problem, not all the managers were same in the organization, it depended on the manager mostly.
Gibb, Jack. (1961). “Defensive Communication.” Journal of Communication, 11, 141-148
Eisenberg, Eric, & Goodall, H. L. Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2001. Print