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Manufacturing Roles

Part 1 of 5


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Roles. We all assume them: sometimes we even play them; and at times we change them and we're not even aware of it. We all have a preferred role as a leader and as a follower, and as long as situations are stable, we tend to operate within those roles. However, if the formality of the orga­nization changes or if the pressure changes, there is a strong tendency for our roles to change. Role interaction among peers is important, but the vertical interaction through the chain of command is crucial to our success, and for that reason this presentation will deal only with the leader/follower interaction.

Organizational life, both business and social, has long been explained through the use of behavioral types. We've been exposed to Theory X, Theory Y, and Theory Z. Behavioral scientists have explained Type A - Type B to us. All this information has been presented in the hope that by detail­ing a set of behavioral traits we can understand human interaction. Unfortunately, human beings cannot be so easily categorized, because their behavior is dynamic, not static, and it is dependent on those with whom they are interacting. The organizational roles that we will explore may have names that are new to you but I am sure you will recognize the characters.

We will discuss three leader roles and three follower (subordinate) roles. These roles will represent the end points and the mid-point of each respective behavioral spectrum. The characteristics of each role will be discussed prior to examining the dynamics of each possible role interaction. However, it is critical to first understand the primary criteria for role selection. This criteria is the individual's view of POWER and OBLIGATION. Our perspective of these two concepts, more than anything else, causes us to select our preferred roles. Before discussing the actual roles themselves, let's improve our understand­ing of these two concepts.

Power—The Control of Resources

A. Initially, power would seem to be related to the posses­sion of money or resources, or to the capability of forcing one's will upon others. Notice how this super­ficial concept can be enlarged by the following defini­tions.

1. Power is influence upon the choice process of others. We exert social power upon others if their behavior can be controlled. Influencing decisions often involves inducing others to change their order of priorities. This kind of influence is ac­quired and maintained by controlling rewards and punishments.
2. Power is the control over decisions. The more decisions an individual controls, the more oppor­tunities he finds for completing his tasks success­fully. Every time a decision can be made without
asking permission, power is gained. Likewise, if permission is asked by others, power is gained. While control of behavior is the ultimate goal, controlling decisions is an important first step.
3. Power is the ability to effect change in situations where change otherwise would not occur. Like the wind, it cannot be seen directly, but its influence can be gauged by the bending of huge "trees." Power makes things happen in visible and predict­able ways.
B. Sources of power are those forces which tend to redis­tribute power.
1. Power is derived from physical strength and size. This is often found to be a characteristic of leaders.
2. A more rational source of power is expertise and intelligence. Competency and wisdom are ulti­mately respected, irrespective of the degree to which they are utilized by the organization.
3. Knowledge is power. Knowledge of processes make it possible for a manager to determine when to intervene. The active manager anticipates decisions before they become problems.
4. The most important source of power is the general ability to met the needs of others. In our "psycho­logical economy," this ability becomes a solid base for power.

To be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02


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