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August 24, 2009
For this exercise I would like to compare two different organizations that worked for. I described them in one of my previous blog entries. First of them is Tax Ministry, second is IBM. Using the Purcel's classification (Purcell, 1986) Tax Ministry has a traditional management style and IBM applies sophisticated human relations style in management. From the perspective of Storey's classification (Storey J. 1992) the HR departments play the Regulators and Advisors roles in Tax Ministry and IBM respectively.
The work environment in Tax Ministry was very formal. One of the most straight forward indication of that was the obligatory usage of the middle name (very formal refer in Russian language when you use the middle name, usually used in schools when the pupil refers to a teacher or in the army for example) when you refer to your colleague. The opposite situation is in IBM where you refer to the colleagues only by first name, even to the General Manager.
Among the other differences I can point the strict presence at the work place at any working hour in the Tax Ministry versus the Home office concept that exist in IBM when the employee can work from home using the secured connection to the IBM intranet via internet.
Any employee's absence in Tax Ministry should be documented by the evidence paper from the hospital or any other document that confirms the reason of the employee's absence. At the same time in IBM it is enough to have the verbal agreement with the first line manager to take a kind of emergency off or sick leave.
Thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of these setups I can point the following:
- the formalism that exists in the Tax Ministry gives better control over the employees, and each first line manager can check and control where is his employee and what is he doing. Vice verse in IBM employee can use this "freedom" to use the work time for the personal needs;
- from the other point of view the formalism in Tax Ministry increases the dissatisfaction of the employees and consequently increase the absenteeism so the productivity falls. In IBM the employee that has some emergency at home or some difficulties with the health can still work from home and do his tasks completely or partially.
- the strictly fixed hierarchy in Tax Ministry ensure the fast order path top-down, but more informal matrix IBM environment enforce the employees to give their feedback to the managers which is very important not only for the employees' satisfaction, but also for the company competitiveness in the current turbulent economic environment.
Summarizing all what I mentioned above I would like to give my personal opinion. From my point of view I would say that IBM's approach brings more employees' satisfaction, better productivity and easier feedback from the field to management through all the levels. This type of management style and interpersonal relations is better for the commercial organizations.