Management: Problem Analysis

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This model of the Research Report addresses the case study of Andrew Bartlett's plumbing business in Western Australia. See attached copy of the case, taken from ‘Andrew Bartlett: Managerial dilemmas'. In Bartol, K., Tein, M., Matthews, G. & Martin, D. (2005). Management: A Pacific Focus, McGraw-Hill and Irwin, p.p. 471-2

Introduction
[1] Team-structured organisations are becoming increasingly popular in many different industries and in situations where companies have geographically distributed offices. Jehn and Mannix (2001, p. 238) note that work teams provide many benefits to an organisation, including increased innovation and discussion of ideas, knowledge-sharing and commitment to goals. However, teams have also been negatively associated with conflict within organisations. While some conflict within teams is now considered beneficial, it is essential that it be managed effectively to avoid problems (De Dreu & Weingart 2003, p. 741). [2] The high level of conflict that exists in Andrew Bartlett's business is a serious managerial problem [3] because the negative effects of conflict can result in low employee morale, leading to reduced productivity and effectiveness, and staff turnover. [4] In this report, I will argue that this conflict is due to poor communication and a lack of structured work processes in the Bunbury office. In order to address this problem, [5] Andrew Bartlett must restructure the Bunbury office by appointing an administration manager to handle non-technical matters and by introducing a structured communication process to deal with issues as they arise. Implementation of this strategy will result in an improvement in both team effectiveness and employee satisfaction.

Problem Identification
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[5A] The Australian plumbing industry is currently facing major changes with the introduction of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005. The Act is aimed at improving occupational health and safety practices, reducing unlawful behaviour, and protecting employees within the industry (MPMSAA 2005). In addition, the Institute of Plumbing Australia is emphasising the importance of technical training and establishing career paths for individuals in the industry (Swift 2005). Despite the focus on industrial relations and training, there appears to be little attention in the industry to education on business and people management. The recent trend toward work teams, together with the fact that managers now spend more than a quarter of their time dealing with conflict ([6]Thomas & Schmidt cited in Meyer, Gemmell & Irving 1997, p. 1), means that conflict management is vital within an organisation. [7] As such, the conflict occurring within Andrew Bartlett's business is a significant managerial issue.

[8] Dysfunctional conflict has been found to have extremely negative effects in an organisation if the issue is not addressed. In particular, lowered employee morale due to conflict is known to lead to reduced productivity and effectiveness resulting in the quality of work completed by employees suffering (De Dreu & Van Vianen 2001, p. 310). [9] As appears to be occurring in Andrew Bartlett's organisation, this leads to unsatisfied customers and, ultimately, the business suffers financially. In addition, increased staff turnover is a major consequence of workplace conflict (Medina, Munduate, Dorado, Martinez & Guerra 2005, p. 220). [10] In this business, staff turnover is an explicit problem as several employees involved in the conflict have already threatened to resign. If the cause of the conflict is not resolved, not only will it result in the loss of current staff, but it is also likely to be repeated with future employees. Replacing staff is not only an inconvenience to the business but also very costly due to recruitment and training expenses. For these reasons, addressing this issue immediately is crucial to the organisation's continued success [11].

Critical...
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