Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Marie-Josée Demers : Office Space

1. Question : The conversation Joanna had with her boss (Stan) about her pieces of flair refers to which communication approach?

The conversation that took place in the restaurant between Joanna and Stan about the fact that she should wear more pieces of flair is a good example of the strategic control approach. Her boss never directly told her that she had to wear more but the way he was talking obviously suggested what she should do. He was trying to manipulate her. He was using this approach to make her feel embarrassed about her lack of pins and buttons so she would change her behaviour. He never required her to wear more because she was respecting the minimum, but he was using his position as a boss to pressure her and perhaps make her realize she could do more. What he did not think about –and the reason why he did not succeed with his manipulation- was that her employee might not see the pieces of flair as a first priority, as he does, and that she could have the courage to stand up to him, even though he is in a dominating position in relation to her.

2. Key quote : “Peter, most people don’t like their jobs”. – Joanna

The whole movie was, on one hand, a good representation of people who don’t like their jobs, and, on the other hand, a good demonstration of the reason why they might not like them. Indeed, the movie showed that managers have an effect on employees’ motivation at work. They are in a position to exercise power on employees. This having been said, if bosses keep seeing their employees as the human beings are described in the Theory X, it is probably why motivation in the company is very low, and why obviously people don’t like their jobs. In other words, self-image is build through the others’ perception of ourselves. If employers assume that their employees are lazy and irresponsible they won’t trust them and won’t reward them positively. However, this lack of trust is harmful for productivity because it is a waste of potential. To illustrate this point, we can take the example of Peter. He was a bad employee that always did just the minimum not to get fired. He wasn’t motivated. But went he got the idea to collect the little amount of money that were thrown away by his company, he showed good proofs of leadership, rallied his friends to his project and found solutions to his problems in the way. He didn’t totally hated to work in general, he just hated the job he had at that time and the way he was treated.

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