Monday, October 15, 2007

Michelle Harrington-Office Space

Question: How does communication differ between coworkers, supervisors and friends?
The best example of how communication differs in the workplace is with the character Michael Bolton. We first learn his name when a coworker brings him a report of some sort. Michael responds annoyed and answers her questions but does not attempt to further the conversation. He is mildly cold but attempts to maintain a working relationship. This type of communication is definitely information transfer. Michael is only communicating with her as much as necessary. His two friends, Peter and Samir, observe this conversation and question him further when the other coworker leaves. They ask why he doesn’t just go by Mike. Michael shares his true feelings with them about the name and about the singer. He is the most transparent with his friends compared to when he puts on a semi-nice face for his coworker.
Later in the film, he is being interviewed by some consultants who have the ability to recommend whether Michael will be fired. Even though they are not his supervisor, they are in a position of power so he communicates with them in the same way he probably would a supervisor. When they ask if he likes the singer, Michael appeases them and leads them to believe he is a big fan. Since he wanted them to be happy with him, he communicated what he thought they wanted to hear. This type of communication would be classified as transactional process. Michael was decoding the message and sending the message he thought would line up with what they wanted. While Bob and Bob did not really do a good job decoding, both sides were sending and receiving messages simultaneously.
Michael’s response to each of these groups was quite different. With his friends, he was willing to be the most honest. With a coworker, he only answered the questions vaguely so she would move on. Finally, with someone in power, he was willing to say whatever he needed to in order to appease them. This reflects the fact that the organization as a whole is operating under the classical approach to management. Michael did not feel he could be honest, even if he was kind in the way he said it, thus reflecting the lack of emphasis on relationship over productivity.

Quote: “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I don’t care.” –Peter Gibbins
This quote is great first of all because it expresses how many of us feel but would never say to our boss. Unlike Michael, or any of the other employees, Peter goes in and says exactly what he is thinking. This quote also addresses McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y approach. Peter has been working in a control-oriented bureaucratic style of management and he responds back in the same fashion. Since Peter is not under ‘proper conditions’, he does not seek to learn or become more efficient since he was not motivation to do so. Peter is also not committed to the company or company objectives so he does not exercise self-direction to achieve them. McGregor’s Theory Y outlines a set of assumptions about employee motivation and behavior. Since Initech’s management does not operate using McGregor’s Theory Y approach which gives employees more freedom and involvement, employees are not able to work to the best of their ability. This quote reflects how employees can feel disconnected from the company’s goals and are not lazy as management assumes them to be.

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