Organisations are comprised of unique individuals usually working in collaborative arrangements. Think of some of the people that you have worked with on one or more projects in an organisation. Referring to theory, in what way did they, through their unique characteristics (such as preferred roles, personality, perception, behaviour, values and attitudes, cultural background, abilities or skills) assist or hinder the organisation in achieving one or more of its goals? What are the implications for managers?
The study of individual differences in the workplace is not a new phenomenon. Difference between individuals has been the norm since human existence (Diamante & Giglio, 1994). Understanding individual differences is to acknowledge the varied perspectives and approaches to work, which members of different identity groups evoke (Ely & Thomas, 1996). Behaviours, roles, personalities, perceptions, values and attitudes are different for every employee. Recognising these diverse skill sets among employees and matching them to the most appropriate position is critical in assisting or hindering the achievement of organisational goals. Since individuals are diverse, it is not surprising each individual perceives and operates in different ways. The key for organisations and management is approaching individual diversity as a true opportunity and converting it into a competitive advantage.
A major downfall for individuals and organisations is their tendency to stereotype people as categories, and not recognise the benefits of respecting individual diversity in terms of needs and behaviours, often resulting in conflict. Diversity has the ability to positively impact on the business outcomes achieved by teams. Katz' (1982) study found that diverse teams often take longer to perform than less diverse teams; however the outcome is of a higher quality. Managers must recognise the critical impact diversity of individuals has upon productivity. Managers achieve the best results through understanding the complexities of individuals and team behaviour (Cox, Lobel & McLeod, 1991).
Today, sporting organisations often set the benchmark on dealing with diversity. To remain competitive in the marketplace sports organisations recruit, develop and retain employees with diverse behaviours, cultural backgrounds, values, attitudes and perceptions. Grant Thomas, head coach of St. Kilda Football Club since 2001, identified success in the Australian Football League (AFL) is highly dependent on embracing employee diversity as an opportunity. Capitalising on the advantage of workplace diversity was essential, despite the turbulence and frustrations synonymous when recognising diversity in an organisation. Implementing an employee management paradigm acknowledging the unique talents of each individual offered aimed to deliver long-term success. In 2003, the St. Kilda FC witnessed various individual and behavioural differences requiring immediate management. In-depth analysis illustrates the theoretical symptoms triggering individual differences and the style of management implemented to resolve the individual differences.
The Individuals and the Events
Rotational Captaincy/Leadership Policy
A diversity of opinion between a team leader and a manager over an organisational policy needs to be addressed immediately. In 2003 St. Kilda FC introduced an annual rotational captaincy program specialised in fast tracking a young team to develop leadership skills and qualities. The policy was introduced to overcome a heavy reliance on experienced players, however it created a divide between the captain, Aaron Hamill, and the coach. The divide symbolised a power struggle. The coach was branded a severe reputation from the captain through an individual difference. Hamill believed his status within the organisation was in jeopardy and attributed the potential loss of status...