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Kirby’s Hardware Supply
At Kirby’s there were six people in the Office Support Unit (OSU). They were a designated organisational unit located in two different, though nearby, workspaces. Three of the group (Karli, Kellie and Kadin as their supervisor) served the Finance staff and three served the Purchasing/ Supplies staff. The OSU workers were all relatively equal in status, pay and roles. In general, the group operated effectively and members from each of the two subgroups frequently shared jobs, fixed problems or swapped locations in response to any unforeseen circumstances or new procedures. Because they had relatively little contact with the public, customers or suppliers, they were able to go to morning tea and lunch together, leaving their phones to take voicemail messages. Kadin was the newest member of the group. As he grew familiar with the company, he formed a friendship with a group of other male employees who wanted to go for a run at lunchtime to get fit. Some of these were office workers but some were higher level professionals. Since he had joined the running group, Kadin had felt less than accepted by the others in the OSU. He thought this might have something to do with coming in as a supervisor from outside the organisation, but he did not think anyone else in the group was really interested in taking on the extra responsibility of the job. He felt the others saw him as ambitious, since his wife also worked in a senior position in a related organisation. He was studying Spanish at a community college at night, planning to be prepared should she get a much-hoped for position in Barcelona.
Despite these small tensions, there was little obvious disharmony and everyone got on well together. After working in the group for more than two years Kadin was asked to spend six months seconded to another position in the office of the CEO. He was to work as an assistant to the CEO, since the CEO was overloaded in the midst of a key negotiation for the acquisition of another small company. Kadin happily accepted the appointment, and Dudley was brought in from another agency to fill in his role for the period. Dudley was very experienced but had little interest in staying long term. Kadin was in frequent contact to answer any questions Dudley had about the job, and he had drinks after work with the Office Support group every three weeks to keep in touch.
After the six-month period was over and the acquisition successfully negotiated, Kadin returned to his old job. However, Kadin noticed more hostility than he had before. When he had to ask Karli or Kellie to do some group assignment that was out of the ordinary (most of their tasks were regular daily activities), they found excuses. Alternatively, they responded with direct questions such as ‘Why don’t you have time to do it? You’re very efficient’ or ‘I’d like to but I am very busy. I am not a superstar like you.’ He felt that the tension towards him had grown but found little success in ignoring it or being polite. He had tried to laugh off the comments with responses like ‘Come on, I’m just one of the team’, but nothing changed. When he walked in to morning tea and lunch with the whole group he often felt the conversation change suddenly as if they had been talking about him. More and more he found himself confiding in members of the lunchtime running group, and he had been having a drink after work with them as well. While the office work was done, the levels of happiness in the office had declined seriously and Kadin’s personal morale was very low.
Questions
1.    How effectively are the six people operating in OSU as a group?
2.    What are the causes of the group’s problems?
3.    What can be done to fix the group’s problems?


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