6015 Organisational Behaviour

6015 Organisational Behaviour

6015 Organisational Behaviour

Case Study: Returning Home To A Different Employee

It had been 12 months since Stronghold, a medium-sized US Investment Bank, had set up its largest overseas office in Shanghai, China. The Shanghai office was part of Stronghold’s long-term strategy of expanding its domestic investment bank into a global organization. This strategy had so far proved to be highly successful. Over the past 10 years, Stronghold had set up offices in London, Edinburgh, Utrecht, Sydney and finally Shanghai.

One of Stronghold’s ’employee development’ policies has been that employees promoted into their first management position undertake two weeks of intensive management training to assist them in their new role. This included training in leadership, the philosophy and values of the company, personality testing, emotional intelligence, 360-degree evaluations, conflict and negotiation skills and career development. One of the novel aspects of this training was that it was conducted at Stronghold’s Sydney offices instead of the company’s headquarters in Chicago. After the Sydney office opened it was chosen as the bank’s official training destination because of the good weather, beaches and nightlife, and because the majority of its in-house trainers were Australian-based managers.

This training was highly rated by its trainee managers as an important step in their management development and for their success within the company. Trainee managers came from all of Stronghold’s international offices as well as those based in the United States, so it was not unusual to have a mix of nationalities in any one training group. Some of the feedback on the training found that the trainee managers greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet and get to know Stronghold staff from other offices, with whom they stayed in regular contact, forging new and important business relationships.

Since the recent opening of the Shanghai office, Stronghold Sydney was about to host its first Chinese trainee managers. Five newly promoted Chinese managers joined six trainee managers from the United States, four from the United Kingdom, two from the Netherlands and two from Australia.

As the training began, the trainers noticed the Chinese managers were not wholeheartedly participating in the sessions and exercises. They rarely asked questions about the content of the sessions or answered questions about their own working experiences; they only ever offered their opinions when prompted to do so; and they tended to shy away from leading the group even when they were formally asked to take on this role. During breaks, rest periods and lunch, the Chinese participants were found generally to congregate with each other, whereas the other nationalities were quick to mix and get to know each other better.

At first the trainers put this reticent behavior down to language, despite the excellent English skills of most of the Chinese managers. They were also sensitive to differences in culture and felt the Chinese managers just needed some extra time to adjust. In order to assist with the adjustment the trainers decided that a night out at a pub and restaurant with the whole team would help to break down some of these barriers. The night proved to be a success because the next day the Chinese trainees were willing to participate a little more and seemed to feel more at ease mixing with their international peers.

One of the highlights of the two-week training was a visit by Reg Arnold, the CEO of Stronghold, who led an afternoon session with the trainees. In this session Arnold gave an outline of the history of the company, its strategy for the future, the values and philosophy of the Stronghold Company and what it expected of its managers. In his highly engaging manner Arnold talked about how he expected his mangers to show leadership and initiative, to be highly dynamic, competitive and assertive, to be innovative, to question the status quo and always be looking at new and better ways of doing things. At the completion of his presentation and for the rest of the day there was a buzz among the group. In fact, Arnold’s session seemed to have its greatest effect on the Chinese trainees because the next day head trainer Australian Mike Darcy remarked that they were slowly coming out of their shells and that by the end of the two weeks they were likely to become Stronghold management material after all.

Four weeks after the training was complete, Mike Darcy sent out his feedback questionnaire to the trainee managers as well as a questionnaire to the trainees’ direct management supervisors. This was usually one of the most enjoyable parts for Mike because the feedback as generally glowing as the two-week training usually made a big difference to the performance of the trainee managers, particularly in terms of building their confidence. However, this time things turned out differently. Mike received a very troubling response from the Chinese supervisors and even the general manager of the Shanghai office, who was moved to not only fill out the questionnaire but to write a long email to go with it.

The email stated that since returning home the Chinese trainee mangers had lost respect for their supervisors’ authority and that their behavior had become rude. It noted there had been occasions when the trainee mangers had made changes to established work practices without permission, they had questioned direct instructions from their supervisors, that at times they had behaved aggressively and that they had freely given their opinions to everyone in the workplace when they weren’t asked for them.

Written feedback on the questionnaire from one of the trainee managers painted a similarly factious picture:

Since returning to Shanghai I have found it difficult to put into practice everything Mr Arnold and Mr Darcy talked to us about in Sydney. For example, I decided to change the weekly form in which traders record their trades and then submit to their first-line managers such as myself. There is a lot of information on the form that is not needed and which is never formally recorded in our computer system; noting down this information creates a lot of unnecessary work. However, when I told my supervisor what I had done he became angry and upset, and said that I hadn’t asked him first whether it was Ok to do this. I was surprised at this because my supervisor is concerned only that the main information is recorded in the computer, which it still is. I also felt that given what Mr Arnold had told us about using our own initiative and looking at new ways of doing things, what I had done was in the best interests of the company.

After reading this feedback Mike Darcy realized that changes to the management training would need to be made in order to avoid problems like this in the future for the Shanghai office.

Question One

Describe the five factor model of personality. Applying this model to the Case Study, how would you describe the Chinese trainee managers’ behavior on the course?

Question Two

Referring to research and theory based on values across cultures, how would you describe the values of the Shanghai office? Give examples to support your analysis.

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