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MAN212 Organisational Behaviour

tag 0 Download 10 Pages / 2,480 Words tag 13-07-2021


One day, Anand and Pauline were in a meeting room discussing an issue that had arisen with a Mãori community in the Bay of Islands. A plan to develop a new community centre had fallen foul of local council regulations because of concerns about the safety of the site on top of a cliff. The two lawyers had become firm friends since joining the firm within the same week two years ago.

‘This has been a fantastic career move for me’, enthused Anand. ‘Working for a distinguished law firm really opens doors. Mark and Cathy have been really supportive and winning some of the cases we have taken on is incredibly gratifying. I recall that time we won the case over the toxic fertilisers used on a farm near the Waikato River. Both Mark and Cathy came to court in Hamilton for a week to give me a hand.’‘I am not so sure’, responded Pauline. ‘I was happy when they agreed to pay off my student loan when I joined. That really helped, so I should be more grateful. Working with Mãori communities and businesses is great but sometimes I get the feeling that I am just a token representative. There are only two female lawyers here too—it still feels like an old boys’ club to me. I have never been invited to the O’Connell Club for drinks with the grumpy old men, though they seem to take all the male lawyers there. But I am not even sure I want to go. 

There are only a few women or Mãori members.’‘Well, I’ve never been invited either’, replied Anand. ‘And I would not go. I don’t drink alcohol. And I heard Brian complain that he went a few times on Fridays but felt awkward there, and he didn’t like it that he felt he couldn’t leave till 9 p.m. His wife really moaned at him. I must say, they do demand a lot from us. I had to miss my son’s soccer tournament last weekend.’‘Well, I don’t seem to have time for much of a social life myself’, Pauline remarked. ’I seem to get out of here well after seven most days and I have spent a lot of time out of town on business this year. I have asked for some help on cases, but when I spoke to Jack about it he was very curt with me. Said we were too short-staffed. Yet when the partners need more staff they even hire temps.’

Communication issues
Meanwhile, after a meeting, a few of the paralegal staff had stayed behind in one of the meeting rooms to talk about their jobs. Anna Ivanova was clearly unhappy. ‘When I joined I was told that that I would get a salary increase if I had a good performance review. So how good is 4 per cent? That is barely above the cost of living increase everyone else got. And since I got that contract for my brother’s property company, you would think I would have been given a bonus for that alone. Telling me I had done a good job is one thing—being properly rewarded is quite another.’ What she did not say was that she had given her brother some confidential information about one of his competitors, who was also a client of the firm. 

Jack had suspected this but could not prove it. He had, however, voiced his opinion to Owen,who had said nothing about it to Anna.‘So you think that is bad!’ exclaimed Mai. ‘I got no increase except the 2 per cent everyonegot. You don’t even know what they expect from you or how you are going to be judged inthese performance reviews. In mine Mr Wynne said that I was too slow to process contracts and that I make too many mistakes. When I asked him what mistakes I had made he said hehad seen quite a few but had just corrected them himself. I don’t know whether to believehim or not. And when I asked if I could handle the McArthur contract myself he told me I did not have enough experience. He did not say one nice thing about what I have done.
He just dumps work on me then goes off to play golf!’ Candy chipped in, ‘I don’t think things are so bad here. We have a lot of fun. The Sunday hike and picnic was a great idea of Cathy’s and it was really funny when they put ants down
Pauline’s top. Boy, did she squeal.’‘Well, she was really angry’, Anna remarked, ‘and embarrassed too. She didn’t think it was so funny. And Anand did not like it when someone made a joke about the food he had brought.’

However, nine months later, John was still managing only four of the staff and the restructuring of the firm had not taken place. Owen had said this was on hold until people had settled into the new offices, but after three months in the new premises, despite several inquiries, John was still not convinced it would go ahead. He had also believed that when he had enrolled for an MBA his fees would be paid by the law firm. He based this on a conversation with Jack, also in the club, about supporting him financially. However, when Jack saw that the qualification would cost over $30 000 he said he had never agreed to pay such a high amount. He said that as far as he knew university fees were usually only about $6000 p.a. and that is the most the firm would pay.
Discussion questions
1. a. Identify the reasons for employees resisting the change to an open-plan office approach.
b. Explain what the partners might have done better to have minimised the resistance.
2. a. Analyse the barriers to communication (‘noise’) that appear to exist in the law firm.
b. Discuss how they could be overcome.
3. a. Discuss the sources of power the partners and others appear to have and the impact this may have on other employees.
b. What influence tactics have been used by some of the partners and employees and how effective might they have been.
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